Photo by Gage Skidmore
Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll
We saw so many good signs for the state of "conservatism" and the Republican Party at CPAC this weekend. To begin with, Ron Paul actually won the CPAC presidential straw poll. This is a long way for the self-described conservative movement to come from actually supporting Mitt "socialized medicine" Romney for the past three years.
It's also a long way for the Ron Paul REVOLution to come. Going from winning every single poll there is on the Internet (thanks to his very web-savvy, and extremely dedicated supporters) to actually winning a "real" poll of the major movers and shakers in the conservative movement at CPAC, is encouraging to say the least.
Michael Steele is Ron Paul's Newest Fan
Even RNC Chairman Michael Steele kowtowed to Ron Paul and his vision of monetary sanity in his best-selling book End the Fed at CPAC this weekend:
It would seem that the true libertarians in the Republican party and conservative movement are finally stepping it up, playing the game, getting involved, and yes- taking over *huge grin*
We're all libertarians now
Mike Huckabee even sat out the CPAC convention with a bad case of sour grapes, saying: "CPAC has becoming increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year." Well, Mr. Huckabee, if you don't stand for liberty, I pray fervently that the Republican Party knows better than to stand for you in 2012.
This is how it needs to happen. The socialists, fascists, and Fabians hijacked the U.S. Democratic Party over the last century to accomplish their political agenda. I am not unconvinced that the libertarians need to do the same with the Republican Party.
Actually- not all of us...
While all these signs are certainly encouraging, there were many, many discouraging signs from CPAC, so libertarians had better stay on their toes and keep working hard. To begin with, when Ron Paul was announced as the CPAC straw poll winner, there were several audible boos mixed in with the cheering.
Dick Cheney's Surprise Speech, Standing Ovation
Then there's the fact that they actually gave a standing ovation for Dick Cheney's surprise speech at CPAC. He joked that "A welcome like that almost makes me want to run for office," and actually received more thunderous applause. The guy who "vice presided" over eight years of the most radical growth in Federal size and power ever gets that kind of reaction from all of Huckabee's crazed "libertarians?"
I wish their middle fingers had given him a standing ovation.
John Ashcroft's Bogus Award
Then former Attorney General John Ashcroft actually gets the Defender of the Constitution Award at CPAC. Yes, John Ashcroft. Defend of the Constitution Award. The guy who supported the Patriot Act. I guess it could have been worse. I guess if they were really, really trying for a headline that could have been from the Onion, they could have given that award to Alberto Gonzales.
Mitt "socialized medicine" Romney Defends Bush
Then last, but not least, was the reaction to Mitt Romney's defense of the Bush Administration. The Cato Institute's David Boaz put it best (H.T. United Liberty):
What did tell me something very disturbing about the state of conservatism was Mitt Romney's speech at CPAC. It was a well-written and well-delivered speech, and I agreed with much of what I heard on C-SPAN Radio. But after all the talk about how Republicans have learned their lessons, how they know that they went badly awry during the Bush-Hastert-DeLay years, Romney drew cheers for saying, "I am convinced that history will judge President Bush far more kindly—he pulled us from a deepening recession following the attack of 9-11, he overcame teachers unions to test school children and evaluate schools, he took down the Taliban, waged a war against the jihadists and was not afraid to call it what it is—a war, and he kept us safe." And then he drew wild, foot-stomping cheers for going on: "I respect his silence even in the face of the assaults on his record that come from this administration. But at the same time, I also respect the loyalty and indefatigable defense of truth that comes from our “I don’t give a damn” Vice President Dick Cheney!" (text)
I am reminded that in February 2008, after seven disastrous years of overspending, federal intrusion, entitlement expansion, civil liberties abuses, and foundering wars, President Bush spoke at CPAC, and the assembled conservatives greeted him with chants of "Four More Years!"
Really? You wanted more of that? And you're still cheering it in 2010?
Conservative leaders may have restated principles of long standing, principles that reflect the philosophy of Buckley and Reagan rather than the practice of Bush. And Tea Party activists may be demanding that both parties get control of spending and stop expanding government. But in 2008 and 2010, it appears that when you get committed conservatives together in a room, they display no regrets about the Bush disaster. No wonder the public is rapidly losing confidence in President Obama and his program (Romney: "the gold medal in the downhill was taken away from American Lindsey Vonn. It was determined that President Obama is going downhill faster than she is."), but voters are not yet ready to embrace Republicans.
Absolutely well said, Mr. Boaz!
Conclusions about CPAC
In the end, the tone and results at CPAC should give libertarians hope. They are making inroads. Ron freaking Paul won the presidential straw poll at America's foremost gathering of conservatives. But CPAC shouldn't give libertarians too much hope or the impression that they have arrived and can safely rest on their laurels.
We have a long, hard road ahead.
..and now your moment of zen: