We’ve been fans of alicublog writer Roy Edroso for years. Is there anyone who understands the angst of conservatives better than Roy? He’s our man on the ground at CPAC — Ed.
The crowd loves Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who once sassed Obama and is now mentioned, at least by this website, as a Presidential contender. No wonder: He gesticulates like other politicians, but no matter how much his arms wave his voice remains sweet, gentle-sounding, almost hushed.
Carson wanted to set straight some “lies” progressives were telling about him. “I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Carson, and when the applause died down continued, “and because I happen to mention that nobody gets to change the definition of marriage… progressives say I equate homosexuality and bestiality.” (They also say he apologized for saying whatever it was he said, but that can’t be true, since he said nothing offensive.)
Nor, Carson said, did he ever say “Obamacare and slavery are the same thing.” What he said, according to the Washington Post, was, “Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery“; but what he really meant, Carson patiently explained, was that the government “has shifted the power that was given to us, it’s the most massive shift in power in America that has ever occurred,” which is not slavery. Also, Carson said, “In Germany people did not believe it what Hitler was doing and they didn’t speak up,” which was not the same thing as “progressives are Nazis” even though he was explicitly talking about Obama and America. Yet progressives “repeat these lies because they cannot argue the actual facts.”
The punch line: Carson then accused progressives of “demonizing” conservatives.
Carson also said that some people were boycotting his supporters because they believed Carson was spreading “poison,” and he asked, we believe rhetorically, “I wonder what poison that would be? Would that be the poison of self-reliance and self-respect? Would that be…” Then he named a lot of other nice things which progressives maybe think are poison.
Other tidbits from Carson’s speech: “I know there are a lot of people in that 47 percent who are decent, hardworking people.” On the condition of America today: “The ship is about the sail off Niagara Falls and we’re all going to be killed.” Carson also asked supporters to go out and get old people to vote, even if they say, “I’ve given up on America, I’m just waiting to die.”
Craig Bergman was walking around in the lobby at CPAC with this poster, trying to get people to see a documentary called UnFair, which promises to “reveal the truth about the abuses of power, the cover ups, and expose the IRS as a blatantly unfair and corrupt entity which is unable to be reformed and therefore must be abolished.” He’s also the film’s producer and the interlocutor, appearing throughout as himself, a muckraking documentarian. He’s never done a movie before, but “hey, if Michael Moore can do it…” he says.
I saw part of the film, in which Bergman’s interviews of conservative politicians like Trey Gowdy and Mike Huckabee are interspersed with interviews of common folk who have had bad trouble with the IRS — not just the famous tea-party non-profits, but also apparently non-political outrages like the $50,000 fine a Round Rock VFW post got for soliciting donations for a charity event. Though Obama seems to have had nothing to do with the VFW fine, images of him and his wife are stuck onto that section so people know whom to hiss. There are also some found-footage inserts that are humorous, or at least were found so by the crowd. It’s either a reverse or a Bizarro Michael Moore thing, depending on your POV.
How does a picture like this get sold? “Well,” said Bergman, “you go to events like CPAC and you show it to people.” If they think they can make money on it, added Bergman, they invest. You mean they don’t just expect to get the message out — they expect to make money, too? “Absolutely,” said Bergman. He says he’s working with John Sullivan, a producer on Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America,, which is one of the most successful documentaries of all time. “The industry standard is 15 percent, 20 percent return on investment,” said Bergman. “It’s not a donation.” He picked up his poster and headed to the pitch.
There are some little tech breakout sections at CPAC, offered by vendors on the theory that some of these folks want to do actual politics and will see the sense of rectifying the notorious digital gap between Democrats and Republicans with products. Sometimes the salesmen try to speak the native lingo, as with the “Beyond Politically Correct: How to Configure WordPress for Success” session competing for CPAC gawker attention with a workshop on organizing tool NationBuilder conducted by “Certified NationBuilder Expert & Architect” Ian Patrick Hines (pictured).
Hines is a little bundle of technerd who knows how to work it for the suits. “NationalBuilder does not do consulting — this is super-super important,” he stressed. What it does is help you sign up supporters, campaign workers, and donors. A slide comes up that describes NationBuilder as a “community organizing system,” and no one walked out, though it’s “not a term you hear very often in the right-of-center universe,” said Hines, because community organizing is not just an Obama joke — it’s also what they want to do.
I only caught one little sop to the nature of the event in his pitch: Hines claiming that some of his fellow techies were appalled that he was coming to CPAC, because (he related in a goofy voice) “only liberals should have access to this technology, you’re betraying the cause.” Hines countered that this is “a non-partisan political tool.” None of the handful of potential buyers responded at all to this: Silly-liberal jokes mean one thing in the big hall, and nothing at all wherever making money is being discussed.