Friday, February 11, 2011

Day Two at CPAC - The Blue Suited Nation

In the Exhibit Hall at CPAC today.
Just back from Day Two of CPAC, the annual gathering of "conservatives" from all over the United States. It was a mob scene, no question - with clearly more people registered than could fit in the ballroom to hear the main speakers. But have no fear - flat screen monitors were everywhere so one could just stand where one was, keep chatting and exchanging the business cards, and still hear what was going on in the ballroom. From my vantage point, however, it just seemed like one blue suit after another - and not just at the podium, but everywhere you looked was a sea of blue.

The main group that apparently did not get the business dress memo were the energized Ron Paul Entourage who were busy walking the hallways handing out buttons and stickers and looking far more like refugees from my Creative Writing classes. It was hard to pass by without taking a sticker (though I did refrain since I haven't actually read his most recent platform) just because they dared to be different.

Dr. Stephen Bird and staff of the NJC at CPAC today.
Took a spin through the Exhibit Hall and made sure to stop by the National Journalism Center table. I interned at the NJC the summer of my senior year in college and it was great to check in and say hi. As it happened, another alumni from my class had just stopped by a few minutes earlier. I had a great time that summer doing the internship. It made such a huge impression on me that I made up my mind that when I finished my last class of college that same year, I would pack up the car and move to DC. And that's what I did.  It was so good to catch up on what NJC is doing now and to learn that the work continues training up future writers and reporters.  Hope to see them again soon!

Listening to presentations at a CPAC seminar on Friday.
Later this afternoon, I attended a very spirited seminar aptly called Freelance Writing for Freedom.  I must say the word "Freedom" appeared nearly as often as the name "Reagan" on posters, stickers, and booths through the hotel.  The panelists at the seminar were Jill Lacy, Bill Mattox, Susan Moeller, and William Owens who is now the publisher of The Tea Party Review.  The presentations focused on freelance writing in an internet age and the moderator was old friend Julie Duin who is now the religion blogger at the Washington Post.  After the presentations she surprised me by introducing me and my work here at and that was very kind.  It was great to meet all the folks who were there and listen to their stories.

There is certainly lots of buzz and energy at CPAC this year, but I am not sure any particular people have risen above the fray to speak for either the future of the conservative movement or how the Tea Party fits in for the future.  There is still another day to go and perhaps that person(s) will show up tomorrow.  What is clear that it was almost Déjà Vu with the pictures and videos of Ronald Reagan all over the place.  It was as if I was streaming back into time - why, even the blue suits and power ties are all back as well.  Seeing the videos of Ronald Reagan, though, is a constant reminder that his voice - that brought together both Republicans and Democrats with a gentle wit and optimism - just hasn't be rediscovered yet.   But what is also clear is that many in the room seem to know it.


Anonymous said...

Looks like the Republicans have found their candidate, and it isn't Sarah Palin! It's the Donald, who will run on the slogan,

"You're Hired!"

John said...

The Donald and Ron. A dream ticket.