Once a year, conservatives from across the country gather in some manner of subterranean hotel ballroom or windowless conference center to talk about what matters most to them and why. It's called the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, and it's usually a complete and utter zoo; Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will be there, along with Rep. Paul Ryan and his former running-mate, Mitt Romney.
But CPAC isn't just a showcase for the party's brightest stars and biggest ideas; it also offers a close-up view of the underbelly of the conservative movement—the hacks and hucksters that helped lead Republicans astray in November in the first place. (Last year I found a booth dedicated to exposing the secret alliance between George Soros and Fox News.) Here are some of the panels and speeches at this year's conference that promise to entertain:
- "Dick Morris, author and political commentator": Morris lost his gig as a Fox News commentator, with cause, after predicting that Mitt Romney would win the presidential election in a landslide. He also projected that Republicans would pick up as many as 13 seats in the Senate, including races in New York and Oregon. (Quick, name last year's Republican Senate candidate in Oregon!) Dave Weigel wasn't the only person to dismiss Morris as a "con artist." Naturally, he was slated to speak on Thursday morning.
- "Benghazi and its aftermath: US Middle East and Southwest Asia policy," moderated by John Solomon: It's not entirely surprising that CPAC would devote an on-stage panel to what Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called "the worst tragedy since 9/11." But Solomon is most famous—or infamous—for his work as a journalist, ably chronicled here by Mariah Blake.
- Wayne Allyn Root as a featured speaker: Here, I'll just quote from a 2012 article by the former Libertarian Party presidential nominee:
I am President Obama's classmate at Columbia University, Class of '83. I am also one of the most accurate Las Vegas oddsmakers and prognosticators. Accurate enough that I was awarded my own star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. And I smell something rotten in Denmark. Obama has a big skeleton in his closet. It’s his college records. Call it “gut instinct” but my gut is almost always right. Obama has a secret hidden at Columbia—and it's a bad one that threatens to bring down his presidency. Gut instinct is how I've made my living for 29 years since graduating Columbia...
If anyone should have questions about Obama's record at Columbia University, it's me. We both graduated (according to Obama) Columbia University, Class of '83. We were both (according to Obama) Pre-Law and Political Science majors. And I thought I knew most everyone at Columbia. I certainly thought I'd heard of all of my fellow Political Science majors. But not Obama (or as he was known then- Barry Soetoro). I never met him. Never saw him. Never even heard of him. And none of the classmates that I knew at Columbia have ever met him, saw him, or heard of him...
I can only think of one answer that would explain this mystery.
Here's my gut belief: Obama got a leg up by being admitted to both Occidental and Columbia as a foreign exchange student. He was raised as a young boy in Indonesia. But did his mother ever change him back to a U.S. citizen? When he returned to live with his grandparents in Hawaii or as he neared college-age preparing to apply to schools, did he ever change his citizenship back? I'm betting not.
- "Should we shoot all the consultants now?," featuring Pat Caddell: Finally, a Democrat! Except it's Caddell, a former Jimmy Carter pollster who now plays the part of the Good Democrat on Fox News. In the run-up to the 2012 election, he repeatedly argued that President Obama should remove himself from the presidential race and be replaced by Hillary Clinton. We don't think Pat Caddell should be shot, but it'd be tough to find a consultant who offers worse advice.
- "Stop THIS: Threats, Harassment, Intimidation, Slander, and Bullying from the Obama Administration," with Ben Shapiro: In which the Breitbart.com reporter behind the "Friends of Hamas" smear accuses someone else of slander.
- Screening of Hillary the Movie: This 2008 film is something of a historic artifact, given its central role in the 2009 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. It's also totally nuts. Among other things, the movie alleges that the former First Lady murdered a cat.
- "The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution," featuring Bill Norton of the National Center for Constitutional Studies: Come find out how the Founding Fathers were descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel!
- Donald Trump, chairman and president of the Trump Organization: Trump, whose birther crusade made him a (short-lived) front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2011, was last seen all-but-endorsing liberal activist Ashley Judd for Senate in Kentucky. His entire political existence appears aimed at trolling us all:
- Mitt Romney: Congratulations!