A Night on the Tiles at CPAC

by Tim Cavanaugh

Who says Democrats have all the good parties? Here are tens of CPAC attendees tripping the light fantastic this evening.

Beyond the carousing and wassailing of bon vivants, the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference gave some hints on 2016 presidential hopefuls. Of those, Florida senator Marco Rubio seemed to get the warmest welcome from the audience, while Texas senator Ted Cruz brought the most devout following.

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre got the longest and most rousing ovation, but since he’s been content to stay at veep level at the NRA for 23 years, we could call him a 2016 dark horse at best.

Utah senator Mike Lee is rarely considered a presidential hopeful, sort of like the way people tend to overlook Ernie Hudson as a Ghostbuster; but he won this reporter over by starting off with an Emo Philips reference that was met with absolute incomprehension from the audience (I’m with you, Mike! Emo still kills me); and also for telling a group that seems to get ever more Gipper-gaga, “Stop talking about Ronald Reagan and start acting like him.”

Sentimental favorite: The populist stemwinder from Life Inside the Bubble author Dan Bongino. The former Secret Service agent’s nut sentence, “We’re the party of the little guy,” is not strictly an accurate statement (let’s face it: neither party is for the little guy). But it packed some truth: that the Democrats are a bunch of Fancy Dans who will never get a firm grip on America’s essential cussedness.

That said, CPAC Day One did not give the impression of a party raring to go. Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan and highly anticipated New Jersey governor Chris Christie both phoned in their speeches — though to be fair, phones have lots of cool features these days. Given what an emotional and economic shambles the United States is under the Democrats, and an election cycle that will almost certainly favor the opposition party, you’d expect the Republicans to be offering a stronger brew than the 3.2 percent they were serving today.

Maybe tomorrow will bring out the Friday funsters. The National Weather Service is calling for yet another winter storm, possibly bringing hail and ice. Because of global warming.

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