I’ve been covering the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for a couple of years now, and I’ve never seen them this mad, and this scared.
Somehow, even with all the power there is to be had in government, the House, the Senate and even the presidency, they’re still acting like they’re losing. They reveled in mocking the resistance, they attacked the few Democrats that exist in power, they mocked socialist Bernie Sanders continually.
That’s all not that surprising, it’s what they do. They need to build the fear of the other, whether that be “illegals,” “abortionists,” “Islamists” or Democrats. If they don’t do this, they’ll lose their grip on the terrified.
There’s a whole new brand of fear that the old school CPAC’ers are terrified of. The once far right, CPAC has now become the norm. When the President of the United States speaks at your conference two years in a row – you are now the main stream. They know, that fear has no basement, there is no end to its depth.
Last year it was white supremacist Richard Spencer that got kicked out, but they had Nigel Farage of the nativist UKIP speak. This year, they invited Farage back, but at a less prominent time and gave an early-in-the-day slot to Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the niece of France’s National Front party founder Marine Le Pen.
France’s National Front is a historically fascist political party (many would argue it still is) and shockingly – and proudly – Islamophobic and anti-immigrant.
Sarah Kay, a European human rights lawyer, told me that the blonde Fox News friendly Marion Maréchal-Le Pen is someone to be worried about. “She is the Richard Spencer of this continent: physically amenable, younger, less tied to old conflicts, works well in different environments, but what she has to say is baffling, breathtaking…” Sarah didn’t mean breathtaking in a good way.
Even a later CPAC panelist found the invitation of Le Pen more than troublesome. In a NY Times op-ed, Mona Charen wrote this about Maréchal-Le Pen:
“Matt Schlapp, CPAC’s chairman, described her as a “classical liberal” on Twitter. This is utter nonsense. Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen is a member of the National Front party, and far from distancing herself from her Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic and racist grandfather, she has offered him a more full-throated endorsement than her aunt has. ‘I am the political heir of Jean-Marie Le Pen,‘ Maréchal-Le Pen told the Washington Post last year. ’He was a visionary. He was right about a lot of things.’”
But it’s not just the imported hate that became more extreme.
It came from the some of America’s largest political groups – mainly the National Rifle Association. This year, the back to back speakers from the NRA were Dana Loesch, who just came back from her appearance on CNN’s special, and the increasingly unstable Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre.
They didn’t just go after the media like they usually do, but went after the media they did. Loesch, after making up a story about her being attacked at the CNN town hall, claimed that we in the media love mass shootings…
“I’m going to say something that some people are going to say is ‘controversial.’ Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. I’m not saying you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold… And notice I said crying white mothers because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend and you don’t see town halls for them do you?”
Loesch also mocked the police that wouldn’t go up against the shooter with a AR-15, they ripped the Sheriff of Broward County a new one and they threw the FBI under the bus. This year at CPAC was surprisingly anti-law enforcement.
This wasn’t a new movement toward reform in law enforcement of course, not an NRA meets Black Lives Matter… this was all in defense of the one thing that they care for. And no, it wasn’t the children of Parkland.
It was the Second Amendment. Well, they claimed it was the Second Amendment, but it wasn’t the principled document that our fore fathers wrote that they were defending, it was the gun the companies that fund their fetish and perpetuate the fear that sells guns.
There’s a reason why gun sales were down under Trump, the fear of the black man in the White House coming for your guns isn’t there anymore, so they need to figure out something new.
That’s why NRA’s VP Wayne LaPierre’s speech focused not on the gun-grabbers, but on socialism, and how it was killing family values.
In a long winded speech that sounded more like the ramblings of a man trying to sell a cause that even he knew was already lost, he went after the billionaires that all happened to be Jewish. George Soros, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg – they are the ones that are making this country more dangerous. He added “Obama may be gone, but their utopian dream, it marches on, and President Trump’s election, while crucial, can’t turn away the wave of these new European-style socialists bearing down upon us.”
The audience was quiet though, unlike so many of the other speeches. Even his compatriot Dana Loesch’s speech had it’s rabble rousing, stand on their feet moments.
LaPierre, though, blamed the the silence on the crowd being worried. “You know I hear a lot of quiet in this room,” pointing at the younger members of the audience in the front rows, “and I sense your anxiety…and you should be anxious, and you should be frightened.”
President Trump opened the next day and continued the theme: more guns, more fear, even more guns for everyone, and blame everyone but yourselves and the people on this stage.
Trump ended his confusing speech (confusing even for him), that at one point took a two minute side track where he talked about his hair (I’m not kidding), with a parable about the old woman and the snake.
It’s one I’ve heard before on the road, back in 2016, before this mad man had control of the nuclear codes. It was odd, but interesting in that slow motion train wreck sort of way, but it broke up the monotony of campaign stump speeches.
Trump’s version of the story is slightly different than the one that I knew growing up, but it still ends with the kind old lady getting bit by the snake.
It was the one honest moment during his speech. One that we should all remember the next time people start to think that Trump promises to do something for us.
But if I hadn’t brought you in by now, surely you would have died.
She stroked his pretty skin again, and kissed and held him tight.
But instead of saying thank you, that snake gave her a vicious bite.
Take me in, oh tender woman. Take me in for heaven’s sake.
Take me in, oh tender woman. Sighed the vicious snake.
I saved you, cried the woman. And you’ve bitten me, heavens why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die.
Oh, shut up, silly woman, said the reptile with a grin.
You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.