As Ronald Reagan might say, “there they go again.”
As CPAC gathers in Orlando amid the COVID and cancel culture, the liberal media is zeroing in.
Here’s this headline from Fox News on my former CNN colleague John King:
CNN's John King trashes CPAC as the 'Trump Sycophant Society’
'Inside Politics' host accuses former president's supporters of living in 'parallel universe’
The story says:
"CNN anchor John King blasted the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Monday, describing it as the "Trump Sycophant Society.”
Former President Donald Trump will be speaking on Sunday at the country's biggest conservative convention in Orlando, marking his first public appearance since leaving office last month.
On Monday evening, while discussing scheduled CPAC sessions regarding the integrity of the 2020 presidential election, King suggested that Trump's base is living in a ‘parallel universe.’”
‘Look, what happened today? America marked this horrific, horrific milestone; 500,000 of our friends and neighbors and relatives dead from COVID. Most of that is on President Trump, who walked away from science, walked away from common sense, ignored a pandemic on his watch,’ King told his colleague John Berman.
Um. No. And I’ll return to this. But John King wasn’t alone in going after CPAC.
There was ex-George W. Bush aide Michael Gerson in The Washington Post. Gerson’s headline: "There’s nothing conservative about CPAC."
“For decades, the fondest hope of the kind of agitators attracted by this annual event has been a Republican president who shares the breadth of their grievance, the depth of their anger and the fervor of their conspiratorial delusions. In Donald Trump, they finally found their man. He will be welcomed this year — as he will be for the rest of his life — as the god-king of Crazy Town.
…Views espoused by an extremist at CPAC merely reinforce the views of other extremists. Views declared from behind a lectern with a presidential seal on it are at least partially normalized. If we believe that moral leadership can improve a country, it follows that immoral leadership can debase it.
…With many of the sessions premised on the big lie of a stolen presidential election, young attendees will certainly be taught that truth is infinitely malleable in service to ideology.
From the attendance of eager presidential hopefuls such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, they will learn that exclusion, deception and the maximization of White grievance are the future of the GOP, and that encouraging sedition is not a shameful disqualification for the Oval Office.”
Also in The Post was the lefty Paul Waldman. Waldman writes:
“Outside of some panels on China, there’s precious little policy discussion on the agenda....there will be no fewer than seven panels rehashing the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.”
“The internal party divisions were laid bare by an awkward moment at the U.S. Capitol earlier in the week. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, said that Mr. Trump “should” speak at CPAC as a party leader. Moments later, Representative Liz Cheney, who is the No. 3 House Republican and who backed Mr. Trump’s impeachment last month, added that ‘I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of the party.’”
Then there was this laughable sub-headline from MSNBC on the CPAC focus on the 2020 election: "Didn’t America already learn what happens when we perpetuate dangerous conspiracies?"
That headline comes from a network that spent the Trump years pushing what host Joy Reid called “Concrete and corroborative evidence” of Trump/Russia collusion. Aka the Trump/Russia collusion hoax.
I could go on with more in the way of the liberal media pile-on of CPAC. But let’s go through the ones listed above.
First, CNN’s John King said that CPAC “used to be an organization born of William F. Buckley, about conservative ideas, about rebels, about challenging the establishment. Now it's the Trump Sycophant Society.”
Ahhhh…no. First of all I decided with COVID raging, my unvaccinated self would stay home this year. So I have been watching on television all day, the agenda for the conference at hand. Here it is.
As is plainly evident the CPAC agenda is, from start to finish, exactly about “conservative ideas, about rebels, about challenging the establishment.” It is, contra The Post’s Waldman, exactly about policy.
There is one speaker or panel after another talking about COVID lockdowns, the Bill of Rights, the various freedoms governed by the First Amendment - speech, religion, the press, and the freedoms of assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The cancel culture was discussed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. There was a discussion of the censorship practiced by Big Tech.
There were panels on China, Israel, South Korea, national security, education, energy, race and the nuclear family, the crisis at the US southern border, abortion and Roe v. Wade, crime, the Second Amendment and more. Oh so much more. And oh yes, there was indeed discussion of the 2020 election and voter fraud, this panel featuring longtime elections expert Hans Von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation, as well as Deroy Murdock, the Fox contributor who has studied and written a great deal about the election.
The idea that CPAC is now nothing more than a “Trump Sycophant Society”? It is a fact that the former President’s stands on so many of the issues on the CPAC agenda are in agreement with the speakers, panelists and many of the attendees. But as a veteran CPACer myself, there is nothing in the least unusual about this.
In 1974 I attended the very first CPAC. And the speaker who received a raucous standing ovation was…California Governor Ronald Reagan. He became a regular CPAC star. In 1975, after the GOP disaster that was the
1974 elections (not to mention the resignation of President Nixon), Reagan stood at the CPAC podium and challenged the GOP Establishment:
“Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?”
Eventually the conservative movement helped elect Reagan president, and throughout his presidency he was there at CPAC. As with Donald Trump today, he was a CPAC favorite. A star. Reaganites were everywhere in evidence. But no one said that CPAC had become the Reagan Sycophant Society. Then and now, whether Reagan or Trump, their respective popularity was built on their respective policies and conservative beliefs.
Which is exactly why The Post’s Michael Gerson’s CPAC column is so hilarious. Says Gerson:
“For decades, the fondest hope of the kind of agitators attracted by this annual event has been a Republican president who shares the breadth of their grievance, the depth of their anger and the fervor of their conspiratorial delusions.”
Got that? All we Reagan supporters who regularly attended CPAC when Ronald Reagan was the star? Or as Gerson might have called him had he been there “the god-king of Crazy Town”? We Reaganites were nothing more than “agitators” who had the audacity, like Reagan himself, to challenge the GOP Establishment as today perfectly represented in that Times story mentioning Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney. With a remarkable lack of self-awareness Gerson has exemplified exactly the mindset of the sniffy GOP Establishment that led agitators Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley Jr. and others to create and support CPAC in the first place. And led another agitator named Donald Trump to similarly support CPAC.
Note as well the unawareness in saying, as Gerson does, that Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley were all about “the maximization of White grievance.” Newsflash? Senator Cruz is Hispanic. And it will doubtless surprise speakers with names like Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Deroy Murdock, Leo Terrell, Gordon Chang and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson that they are there to support “the maximization of White grievance.” Newsflash? CPAC was and always is filled with people of all races.
The bottom line here? These media CPAC critics are nothing more or less than the representatives of Establishment liberal media. Their journalistic ancestors hated CPAC star Reagan and CPAC’s Reagan supporters. And their job now is to smear CPAC star Donald Trump and his supporters by smearing CPAC itself with flat out untruths.
Newsflash? They won’t succeed.