Walking around CPAC and talking to faces familiar and new, I think the good news for conservatives and Republicans is that a negative agenda — opposing a change you don’t like — is easier than a positive agenda — enacting a change you do like. For every faction in the conservative coalition, Obama and the Democratic-led Congress are attempting to push through legislation they oppose. For pro-lifers, there’s the Freedom of Choice Act.
(Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said, “The Freedom of Choice Act is the most dangerous piece of legislation we face.”)
Libertarians who groused about runaway spending under Bush find themselves with a president determined to exponentially expand the scope and cost of government. For small businesses, there’s the Employee Free Choice Act. For those who listen to talk radio, there’s the persistent push on Capitol Hill about the Fairness Doctrine, and FCC commissioners who seek to hinder opposing voices through back-door regulations. For those who think the Constitution means something, there’s the D.C. Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Eric Holder, fresh off declaring us “a nation of cowards,” is talking up the assault-weapons ban. Even if you’re a skeptic of big business, you’re probably staring in disbelief at taxpayer dollars being ladled out to American automakers. There was probably a time when pro-gambling groups were unthinkable at CPAC, but I didn’t see too many folks complaining about their presence this year.
If conservatives need a broader coalition, the combined agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid might be enough to drive folks into the conservative fold.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., had just enough time to give a quick address. Among his remarks: “There is this smorgasbord of issues for us to deal with that are important to our country.”
Another bit of good news is that CPAC attracted a surprisingly young crowd, with lots of College Republicans or even younger. (Well, they look younger; I might just be getting older.) But from the stage in the ballroom, it’s tough to ignore that many of the leaders of the organizations that make up the participants at CPAC are getting a little long in the tooth.