CPAC begins in less than an hour. I’ll be covering the speeches that matter (as least to me) and the panels that are relevant (see previous).
Since I’m a one–man news team, I can’t make everything, but I’ll do my best to be your eyes & ears.
SEN. TED CRUZ
This is my first time for an in–person Cruz speech. Not sure he needs a microphone, Cruz really projects.
He began by pointing out the obvious under an Obama administration. Liberty is under assault. But the question is how do we win?
Cruz wants to mobilize the country starting with the young who have the most to risk. He explained the two Republicans that appealed most to younger voters were two of the oldest candidates: Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul.
According to the senator, They didn’t do it because they were young, too. Their appeal was based on a strong and principled stand on the issues. Their vision appealed to younger voters, not their chronology.
Cruz wants to follow in their footsteps and to do it he outlined a 10–point program designed to “tell the truth.”
1. Defend the Constitution
2. Abolish the IRS: Simple,flat tax
3. Expand energy in this country & create high–paying jobs all over America.
4. Expand school choice
5. Repeal Dodd–Frank
6. Audit the Federal Reserve
7. Pass strong balanced budget amendment
8. Repeal every single word of Obamacare
9. Stop the lawlessness in the White House
10. End the corruption
The tenth item is where Cruz earns his reputation for not playing nice in Washington. “Ending the corruption” offends all the insiders, starting with the GOP. He wants to “eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism.” Which offends the Chamber of Commerce. Then Cruz proposes a lifetime ban on lobbying for anyone that has ever served in Congress, which includes past and current colleagues.
He completes the trifecta of tribulation for the political class by calling for a Constitutional amendment establishing term limits for Congress. Serve in Congress? Win a lifetime ban on lobbying. Which includes most of those the first two items left out.
Cruz says the DC consultant’s choice of stand up for principles and lose versus keep your head down and let the Democrats defeat themselves is false.
Cruz intends to win by taking strong stands and making a “clear distinction” between the two parties. He hopes the CPAC conservatives are with him.
Ryan speaking after Cruz is unfortunate scheduling for Rep. Paul ’The Compromiser’ Ryan, because his speech embodied “the DC consultant’s choice” Cruz was warning against: Keeping your head down and letting the Democrats defeat themselves, instead of giving voters a clear and distinct choice.
Ryan’s speech was more about the Obama failings in the news everyday and much less about what Republicans should stand for to win. He was more for broadcasting Obama failings rather than giving voters a clear choice. The Ryan option: Vote for us, because we aren’t charge of this disaster.
His speech was also a chance for the audience to catch their breath after the Cruz address. No standing ovations until Ryan left and his jokes only received polite chuckles.
The congressman admitted “we have our internal disagreements, but I prefer to think of it as creative tension.” He called it a dispute over tactics and not principles. The problem with that is the election is only eight months away and it’s time to make a decision.
As Cruz pointed out 30 minutes earlier, playing it safe has been beating Republicans for decades.
Ryan is optimistic. Ironically, he used his budget work as an example of conservative progress. “In 2008 my budget only had eight co–sponsors.” Now he’s passed three budgets in a row, but what he failed to mention was his latest budget “compromise” that reversed the sequester cuts and increased spending and the deficit.
Ryan said the “left offers a full stomach and an empty soul.” His speech filled the time allotted him but left the audience empty of inspiration.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell comes on stage brandishing a flintlock rifle. I wouldn’t have been more surprised if he’d come out dressed in a loincloth.
My first thought was isn’t it a little early in the program to be announcing items left in the Lost & Found? Shouldn’t Mitch just send the rifle to the Charlton Heston estate? Besides, in Maryland – site of CPAC this year – that rifle might qualify as an assault weapon since men in uniform have fired it at the enemy.
McConnell is a back room operator, a legislative technician. I could see him proudly sporting a quill pen, that’s in character. McConnell is not Ronald Reagan. Heck, Mitch isn’t even Clint Eastwood’s chair. His persona doesn’t lend itself to dramatic symbolic gestures. He says something to Sen. Tom Coburn as the senator from Oklahoma leaves the stage. Maybe the transcript, if it ever appears, will clear up this firearms mystery.
McConnell starts praising Coburn, who is leaving the Senate even before his self–imposed term limit takes effect. It seems each morning when he arrives at the office, Coburn empties his pockets and goes through the metal detector like every other regular taxpayer who visits the Hill, rather than flashing his Senate I–don’t–have–to–endure–petty–annoyances card. McConnell likes this common touch and says Coburn is the only senator that does this.
Evidently he doesn’t realize the contrast between him and Tom Coburn does not work to his advantage. On the previous panel Coburn had stressed the importance of term limits to restoring the Republic, while McConnell personifies the time servers who help grow big government.
McConnell, still tone deaf, then tells the audience how much time he’s spent filing briefs at the Supreme Court trying to thwart Obama. Which is one of the problems of his ‘leadership.’ Separation of Powers means co–equal branches of government, which means in turn that McConnell and Boehner shouldn’t be running to daddy supreme every time that bully Barack takes his lunch money.
McConnell then assures us he won’t let us down. But he already has. Mitch likes Coburn’s example. He just won’t follow it.