Today marks the opening of the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Regardless of where you may stand on internal debates about some of this year's co-sponsors, there's no denying that for nearly four decades its been an enduring legacy of conservative political activism.
But to liberal journalists like Time's Adam Sorensen, CPAC is casually dismissed as a "three-day carnival of Republican ladder-climbers and red meat throwers."
"Tea Party or no, red meat is always the entree du jour at these kinds of events," Sorensen noted later in his February 10 Swampland blog post. "In a year before a presidential election, speeches from potential candidates promise heaping helpings."
While there's a little something to that criticism, CPAC is far more than red-meat speeches from presidential hopefuls and Sorensen has to know that.
By contrast, while there is no purely analogous liberal answer to CPAC, the Netroots Nation conference of lefty bloggers is close enough. Yet when it comes to that gathering, Time magazine has been far kinder.
Writing in 2006, Perry Bacon Jr. likened Netroots to "the Democratic Party's equivalent of a punk garage band--edgy, loud and antiauthoritarian."
Two years later, Time's Alex Steed described how a tentative Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed a skeptical crowd at Netroots Nation:
Nancy Pelosi probably knew that the crowd was not going to be friendly. She may be the top Democrat on Capitol Hill, but on Saturday morning in Austin, Texas, she was the featured guest at a Question and Answer session at Netroots Nation, a yearly blogger conference organized by Daily Kos, the influential political blog founded by Markos Moulitsas. These liberals have not been happy with the Speaker of the House's recent decision to table the issue of impeaching George Bush in Congress.
Criticism of her appearance in the blogosphere had been so high in the lead-up to the event that Gina Cooper, an event moderator, preceded her introduction of the Speaker with a warning against any agitation.
For Pelosi, the potential for trouble at her Q&A session at the Austin Convention Center was everywhere. Codepink, an anti-war group organized by women, had its activists, some clad with pink spandex, capes and masks, lined up in front of the entrance, chanting slogans about impeachment. Several members of the audience, which numbered about 2,000, stood, waving copies of the U.S. Constitution in the air. When Pelosi was finally introduced, she was greeted with a standing ovation. She jokingly said she hoped the applause would establish the tone for the Q&A.
A room full of people who think Nancy Pelosi may not be liberal enough? Talk about a crowd ravenous for red meat!