Posts Tagged CPAC
I’m writing this post with two things in mind. For starters, I’m one of dozens of people to pen a tribute to Andrew Breitbart, with whom I was privileged enough to meet and speak with on several occasions. With that, I know this write-up will get lost in cyberspace and join a slew of other items on the end of Breitbart’s wild life, but I think it’s important to note the impact he had on me and my former colleague/dear friend Matthew Boyle in our first year out of college and as professional journalists.
Several weeks ago, I attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC. Believe it or not, that was my idea of a vacation, or “nerdcation,” so to speak. I had just quit my job, and though I’d been applying for my current position at The Jane Dough, nothing was set in stone. After a week and a half of puttering around my apartment (that may not seem like a long time for you, but it felt like years to me), I was ready to head down to Washington, where I could reunite with friends and coworkers who helped me grow professionally and personally right out of school. Though my political views have changed considerably over the past few years, CPAC seemed like the perfect event for me to attend, as it attracts much of my DC social circle each year. It also hosts some very dull speeches, so not all aspects of the three-day gathering are all that riveting.
In the media room, I remember being really underwhelmed by nearly all the speeches I heard, even that of Gingrich, who is known for saying silly things. But I lit up when Breitbart hopped on stage, not because I admired him (for the record I disagreed with a lot of what he preached), but because he was ridiculously amusing. After hours of boredom with the other speeches, here is what I tweeted about Breitbart: “I’m relieved @andrewbreitbart is speaking because he’s funny and entertaining. All the other speeches today were dull! #CPAC”
And you know what? He was funny and entertaining that day. He was the only speaker I could actually listen to. He was engaging, but I knew that already. I’d met him at the previous CPAC.
In fact, the 2011 conglomeration was the most memorable CPAC I’ve experienced yet. It was where I met my good friend Andrew Staroska. It’s because of Breitbart that Andrew and I even met. Andrew tells the story well in his own Breitbart tribute post:
“I was lucky enough to meet Andrew Breitbart at CPAC 2011. I was a young conservative who had just started this site. It was [finally the] day and I was wandering around the Media area at CPAC hoping to snag an interview with someone in hopes to jump start my site. Sure enough here comes Andrew Breitbart. I ran up to where he was and waited until some big reporters finished their questions and asked him if I could get a picture and interview him. Luckily enough for me he agreed to both. I was lucky enough to have met Laura Donovan and Matt Boyle of the Daily Caller who were following him who were nice enough to snap a picture of us. As the time finally came to interview Andrew he asked me a random yet funny question. He asked, “Can you walk backwards down an escalator?” I was confused yet said I think so, why? He said I have to go down stairs but if you can do that you can grab a quick interview. Sure enough I did and got my interview.”
Had Matt and I not been hanging around Breitbart that day, I never would have gotten to know Andrew, a person I have really grown to appreciate and value over the past year. It started when I called Matt at around 8:30 on Saturday, the final day of CPAC 2011. The call went straight to his voicemail, but we met up at CPAC before ten so I could shadow him on his interviews. At that point in time, I’d been a Daily Caller staffer for less than two months, so I was still of the intern mindset, as I’d interned at the office for three months before being offered full-time work. During the short period in which I’d interned at TheDC, Matt had taken me under his wing and given me tons of advice on interviewing, reporting, knowing where and how to look for stories, and writing news briefs. We’d reported on the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally together in the fall and had many conversations about how I could best move forward in journalism, so working with Matt was always very rewarding to me.
Unlike me, Matt was completely fearless in all his endeavors, so I knew it would be wise to study his techniques at CPAC. At around 10:30 a.m., we met with Breitbart for Matt’s scheduled interview and wound up spending about four hours with the guy. I followed both Matt and Breitbart all day, both exhausted from running to keep up with them and shocked by the number of people that approached Breitbart to chat. We were literally stopped every minute, and after a while, I was both frustrated by all the halting and slightly charmed. Breitbart took time to talk to anyone who approached him, and not all famous people would do that. It wasn’t until that day that I realized exactly how big Breitbart was (hence, his “Big” sites). Though peculiar, he was no diva, and the same cannot be said about his elitist arch rival Alec Baldwin.
At some point, Andrew Staroska, who would become my good friend, introduced himself to us and requested a photo with Breitbart. They had their interview as well, and Andrew and I got to talking soon after the aforementioned escalator incident took place (Andrew had to hustle just as much as I did to keep up with Breitbart) and decided to stay in touch. I’m so glad we did, and feel thankful that Breitbart was there that day to plant the seed.
Breitbart made me laugh several times that afternoon, mainly because he said whatever he wanted and had an uninhibited goofy streak. Towards the end of the day, he became restless and decided to pose on a random table in the middle of the conference hotel to see what would happen. I included the photo in my Daily Caller CPAC slideshow as well:
My caption, written last February, reads, “Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart was more than just a CPAC attendee, he was a speaker, but this photo definitely belongs in our Superhero gallery. After all, approximately 20 people surrounded him after he posed like this, and only superheroes can attract crowds as rapidly as Breitbart did.”
On the last day of CPAC 2011, I tweeted that I’d been “following Matt and Breitbart around like a puppy for hours,” and soon after I posted that to my account, Breitbart followed me on Twitter. I didn’t think much of it but reached out to him later that year, when I decided to write a piece about Alec Baldwin making fun of him.
I emailed Breitbart at around 8 p.m. ET on June 9, only to receive a phone call from him shortly before midnight in DC. After leaping out of bed, I picked up my cell phone and saw a 310 area code number flash across my screen. Having lived in southern California, I recognized the area code as from the Los Angeles area, so I knew Breitbart was on the line.
That evening, we talked for a solid half hour. As Dave Weigel wrote earlier today, it was impossible to get Breitbart off the phone. He loved to talk, even when he was making zero sense. At first, I attributed his nonsensical remarks to the fact that he was talking to me on his blue tooth and on the freeway. The reception was fine, however, he was simply stringing words together with little meaning. A lot of what he said to me was incoherent, and I remember telling him several times, “I’m not sure I follow you,” but the things that were clear made for excellent article quotes.
One of the things I’ll never forget about Breitbart was his need for reporters to get their stories straight — at least with regards to articles about him. Twenty minutes after our first phone conservation that night, he called again to shed more light on the issue. The next morning, he called to tell me that I’d misquoted him.
“You said that I said that Alec Baldwin made a ‘blah’ comment about me. That’s inaccurate. I said it was a ‘bleh’ comment, not a ‘blah’ comment,” he said.
Upon laughing and asking if there was a difference between “blah” and “bleh,” (he said there was, by the way), I fixed the quote, and here’s how it reads now:
“I expect more from him, it’s sort of a bleh insult,” Breitbart said. “I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a room of ’30 Rock’ writers working for you.”
To this day, I still don’t understand why “blah” and “bleh” aren’t interchangeable. I should have questioned Breitbart about it when I still had the opportunity, but for obvious reasons, I had more important things to ask. Was it odd of him to correct my bleh/blah error? At the time, I thought so, but now I see why he was so insistent on the change being made: If a story was being written about him, he wanted it done correctly. Though busy with all his “Big” sites and family, Breitbart almost always responded to media requests and was committed to getting the story straight no matter how small or insignificant it may have been.
The next time we corresponded was via Twitter, when I complained of being pale and sunburned as a result of my Irish heritage. He tweeted back that he was the same way: Pasty and Irish in California, where the sun is not kind to fair-skinned people like us. Though he was adopted, Breitbart was of Irish descent, so he knew my pains of being a misplaced Irish person in a state with year-round sunshine and dry heat. Sunlight is great for your soul, but not for your health if you’re anything like me or Breitbart.
For the first time in weeks, I slept nine hours last night. I’d gone to bed at 10 p.m. and woken up at seven. Though I felt well-rested, I woke up on edge. I’d dreamed that actor Mark Wahlberg died and that news of his passing had exploded on the Internet. As soon as I got up in the morning, I realized it hadn’t really happened, but checked my Twitter feed for big news items. The only thing I saw were tweets about Justin Bieber’s birthday, so I figured I’d gotten myself worked up over nothing. Of course, two hours later a colleague would inform me that Breitbart died.
I thought my coworker was joking at first, even as I clicked over to BigJournalism.com and saw their tribute to Breitbart as the lead story. After all, he’d just spoken at CPAC, where he famously shouted at “Occupy freaks” to “stop raping people.” Some had ventured to say that outrageous line would oust “don’t tase me, bro” as the laughingstock of American catchphrases, but I doubt that’s going to happen now.
It wasn’t until I scrolled to the bottom of the page and found no hint of sarcasm that I concluded it was real. Breitbart was gone, and the conservative movement everywhere had lost one of their big champions. Media writers lost a great source of material and entertainment. A wife became a widow. Worst of all, four children lost their father.
Though saddened for his kids, my priority this morning was Matt, who viewed Breitbart as a mentor and good friend. I immediately began mauling him with questions about his well-being via Google Chat, where he was only slightly responsive for a while, understandably so. We ended up talking some more in the afternoon, after he published a moving piece on Breitbart, and told me that there’s now a huge void in our political discussion. Someone is going to have to fill it, whether conservative or liberal. I have trouble believing that anyone, however, could be as funny or engaging as Breitbart, who was full of life.
Today, I was mostly concerned for Matt and Breitbart’s family, but I am also sad that a dynamic figure has departed us before his time. CPAC will never be the same again, and this loss will be felt among right-leaning folks for a very long time. I’m lucky to have corresponded with Breitbart and that he challenged me on my work, as innocuous as my initial error may have been, but mostly I’m happy to see that he had such a powerful effect on so many people. Love him or hate him, he made his mark in this world, and not everyone does.
When I wrote about CPAC 2012 a few weeks ago, I compared the experience to returning to high school after a long summer break. You’re thrilled to see old friends again…that is, if you have a thriving social life. If CPAC were a high school, I wrote, “Ann Coulter is Homecoming Queen, and Andrew Breitbart and Matt Lewis are on Homecoming court.” He was like the big man on campus who suddenly has to transfer schools or move across the country, and while the second coolest guy below him steps in and sort of works as replacement, he’ll never acquire quite the je ne sais quoi that his predecessor had. I have a feeling it will be a long time before the GOP community has another cool kid.
Maybe I’m speaking too soon, but it appears that New York has completely cheated winter. Think I’m wrong? Well, March is nearly here and we are in the high forties and have just a handful of snowstorms under our belt this season. As that silly woman says in Miss Congeniality says, “all you need is a light jacket,” and it’s not even April 25 yet!
Though I’m much less averse to bad weather as I was a year ago, I must say, it’s much easier avoiding the drama and chaos of snowstorms than having to swaddle myself in multiple layers of clothing before stepping outside.
You’ll have to excuse my language, but life has been pretty damn good lately. My friends in DC and beyond have been happy to hear that. The other day, I had a rather pleasant phone conversation with Nikki, my buddy from last last summer, and she mentioned that this was the first time since September that we’d talked like we used to. The past few months, our few and far between discussions have revolved around our stresses and personal problems, and after a while, we realized these bitchfests weren’t all that rewarding or even cathartic. Our chat the other day was great though, and I have a feeling that the majority of our future phone calls will be just as fulfilling.
This is a post of good news, so here are some cool updates from my end: I’m now working at The Jane Dough, a site in the Abrams Media network, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back in a newsroom, where I’ve always belonged. I am very lucky to be surrounded by tireless, news hungry, creative reporters again and feel I can learn a lot from each of these folks. In a nutshell, I’m home
As I wrote blogged last week, I was on Clash Radio on February 17 to discuss the CPAC dress police hoopla, so if you’d like to listen to my segment, click here and track down the 2-17-12 show. I’m towards the very end of the clip.
I promise to publish a longer post soon, but I don’t have too much to report now other than my current state of contentment, and another word on that will make you want to strangle me. So, until next time, take care and enjoy the warm weather.
I’m both overwhelmed and intrigued by the reception for my recent blog entry on CPAC “slutshaming,” which I adapted into a column for Townhall Magazine today. It’s also nice to see I’m not the only one who disagreed with the petty reaction to the female attire at CPAC: Towhall editor and my good friend from college, Katie Pavlich wrote a piece in “defense of women who want to look like women,” stating:
“As I said before, in defense of women who want to look like women, I for one think it’s time to embrace conservative feminism, not tear our own women apart for being attractive. Also, let’s take a look at a harsh reality. Attractive people do well on television. Not everyone gets a trophy in the category of good looking.”
Though some have said it’s time to stop talking about the way women — in particular, Hot Air’s Tina Korbe — looked at CPAC, I’m going to be discussing the problem of CPAC wardrobe police tomorrow on Clash Radio. Tune in at 11:45!
As noted over the weekend, I had a pleasant experience at this year’s CPAC, which gave me the opportunity to listen to top presidential contenders shed light on the state of our country and catch up with old friends. Though some might argue that I shouldn’t use a political event as an occasion to meet up with friends, I’m glad to have shared the experience with people I care about.
According to several conservative bloggers, people like me should be set straight for having fun at the three-day conference. Keeping with the Valentine’s Day tone, Erick Erickson writes of his concerns with the way many young CPACers carry themselves during the annual GOP gathering:
“Being the good, intrepid blogger, I ran across the street to a CVS to buy a notepad, having left mine in my office back in Macon, GA. There in line were a half dozen young men, each with CPAC credentials around their necks and each buying condoms.”
And what is the problem with protected sex? Better the men come prepared than use unsafe methods, impregnate women, or spread disease. Nevertheless, Erickson continues:
“That is part of life on the college circuit. Young men, regardless of political persuasion or ideology, are intent on having sex, being boys, getting drunk — doing what young men in college often do. All to often there are also a few young ladies willing to shame their parents if their parents only knew.”
Who cares if the “18 to 21 year old set” Erickson describes is going all the way? They’re adults, and if this bothers their parents, their families need a reality check. These aren’t kids here, but “emerging” grown-ups, as the New York Times puts it.
Erickson goes on to criticize the post-graduate men-children of CPAC for behaving as if they are still college boys and have an excuse to be irresponsible:
“[T]he twenty and thirty somethings who just can’t seem to grow up. It’s like they started out at CPAC this way in college and each year at their CPAC reunion descend back to their freshman year rush week…Unfortunately, too many treat CPAC like spring break. More than a few of the twenty and thirty somethings who go to CPAC seem to treat it like an extension of their college days doing their best to hook up before passing out. It’s not the majority to be sure, but it is a noticeable minority.”
Having witnessed a large number of young folks burn out before reaching age 30, I see nothing wrong with a three-day reunion with friends. It’s not as if they’re taking a 6-week trip to Cancun or quitting their jobs to booze it up in Prague. They take a few days off work to attend a political conference and be part of history. Sure they have fun in the process, but some of the monotonous, dry speeches warrant a little extra excitement and stimulation in the evenings.
Though I disagree with much of the article, which suggests future CPACs aren’t far from turning into giant fraternity parties, I applaud Erickson for noting the importance of maintaining chivalry:
“Eat, drink, smoke, be merry, but be chivalrous too. There really is, regardless of your age, no need to play the cad at CPAC to score points with conservative ladies…We should accept that duty as the opportunity to do what is right, not as license to behave like fools.”
I like Erickson and feel he articulates himself well in this piece, much more so than another blog post that likens CPACers to the cast of “Jersey Shore.” The writer, a female named Melissa, gripes about the apparel choice of CPAC ladies:
“Women will be future leaders, too, and I was dismayed to see how many of them either looked frumpish or like two-bit whores.”
First of all, what’s so wrong with dressing frumpy? Unless you’re superhuman, you should know that the east coast is freezing right now. It snowed in D.C. this weekend. It’s also February, one of the coldest months of the year. We’re entitled to some frumpiness. I thought I escaped the New York City fashion police during my CPAC trip, but I guess I can’t even avoid shallow style criticism in D.C., which I thought was considered “Hollywood for the ugly.” Too bad that’s no longer the case.
Really though, why label CPAC females as “whores”? When did it become acceptable for women to talk about each other like this? I’ve always found Tina Fey to be a bit overrated, but she’s spot on in “Mean Girls” when she tells her catty female students, “You have got to stop calling each other ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’…It just makes it okay for guys to call you ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’.” Let’s not send that kind of message into the world, Regina George.
Here’s another unfair, mean-spirited swipe that I find offensive:
“[H]ave women so internalized feminist dogma that they see themselves in only two ways? Butch, men-lite wannabes or 3rd wave sluts who empower themselves by screwing every available horndog man?”
Again with the name-calling. Not cool. Her instructions for proper CPAC grooming, however, floor me:
“Skirts no more than three finger-widths above the knee. Why do I even have to write this? Well, because someone is allowing these girls out of the house with mini-skirts that reveal too much.”
Is this Catholic school?
The article becomes more and more malicious as you scroll down the page, and does nothing more than preach to women about why they’re failures and damaged goods:
“Young women, you degrade your own value by dressing and then acting the ho.
I cannot even tell you how many girls have told me that all they want is to get married and have babies. They do not seem to make the connection that a young man is not interested in getting married and making babies with a girl who is so easy as to have a one-night stand over a CPAC weekend (or any other weekend.)
You know what a guy thinks when you slut-it-up? He thinks: If she’ll do that with me, she’ll do that with anyone.”
It disappoints me to see women tear each other down over something as petty as clothing. Take it easy, ladies, no one showed up to CPAC naked. Of course, Melissa isn’t the only woman to blast fellow CPAC gals. Other female bloggers were quick to slutshame. LonelyConservative writes:
“In case any of you dear readers were wondering – no – I was not among the scantily clad ladies at CPAC. I’m a happily married woman, and even when I was single I always tried to dress in a way that would not embarrass myself or my parents. Here’s a passing thought that’s probably unrelated – when Red State ran the bloggers lounge I was granted access. If I were to dress up like a ho and post photos of myself prior to the next CPAC will I be allowed in?”
While I respect the authors of these blog posts, I resent the default labeling. So what if women want to reject the Hillary Clinton pantsuit look? Let’s not kid ourselves: Business attire is unflattering, uncomfortable, and dull, so I support the women who want to have some fun with their appearance. As long as they’re comfortable and not revealing any cleavage, I don’t see the issue with ditching the soul-crushing corporate look.
As earlier stated, I respect these bloggers and am sure that they intend to look out for today’s youth, but talking down to CPACers won’t make them listen to you. You can start connecting with them by refraining from hurling derogatory words their way and disparaging them for being young at heart.
This weekend, it boiled my blood when a former intern told me that an old man who identified himself as a Tea Party member pulled her out of a crowd to tell her she looked like trash. He said she did not know herself and that she needed more class. Then he had the audacity to claim that his daughter would never dress like my friend. For all he knows, his sweet high schooler was smoking opium at that very moment. I’ve seen plenty of blissfully ignorant parents hop on the “not my little girl” high horse until she gets into serious trouble. Besides, my intern looked fine. She was wearing a long black dress and tights. God forbid women break away from loose-fitting blouses, oversized slacks, and blazers. Could she have gone for a more professional look? Yes, but she was neither skimpy nor revealing, and it should be known that unsolicited remarks like that creepy man’s are inappropriate and could even be categorized as sexual harassment.
So, rather than slam CPAC women’s wardrobe or tell twenty-somethings to tone it down, take note of the hostility and unwarranted judgment in the above posts. It’s much more disturbing to watch women smear each other over clothing than to bump into a college girl whose skirt is above her knee. Let’s quit with the cyber attacks and instead present each other with constructive criticism.
Regardless of your views on CPAC, there’s no denying the feeling of community —positive or negative— that it can bring. It reunites old friends who share similar ideas and beliefs, can make you feel really well-liked or out of place, and lends itself to both pleasant and awkward run-ins.
Upon being stopped by old friends and colleagues every couple of minutes at CPAC, Kyana and I determined that the gathering is similar to the first day back at school after a long summer. For us, CPAC is like high school because we enjoyed those years and always looked forward to starting each new semester, which allowed us to get back in the swing of things with our respective social circles.
For those who dislike CPAC (perhaps journalists with centrist or left-wing outlets who are forced to cover the event), it’s more like the first day of middle school, which I’m fairly certain is universally horrendous for all. You are a pariah and dread bumping into those with whom you have a bad history. You don’t want to be there, but you have to attend. You cope with this thing by writing away in your journal, or in the contemporary world, your blog, and tweeting about your problems with the cream of the crop folks.
Though I don’t identify with a political party, I liked the first day of CPAC. It was a nice reunion with my former interns, coworkers and bosses, and DC friends. You have the chance to see how they’ve changed over an extended period of time and what they’ve been up to lately. You may even be on the lookout for a former flame. A friend of mine was scoping out CPAC attendees all day in search of his ex-girlfriend. I’m glad I didn’t spend my day worrying like that. Oh, the tangled web of nerd love.
Thankfully, all my interactions have been positive. I even met some of my Twitter followers, and the encounters made me think of high school students who instant message each other constantly but never interact in person. I’m not here for the politics, but to be with my friends and feel a sense of community, which I’m still lacking in New York. It’s like spending a lonely summer at home and being so thrilled to return to school, where you can actually hang out with people all day.
While CPAC 2012 encounters were just what I needed to remind myself that I have a strong social network, I know plenty of individuals here who would probably rather be with a different crowd. After all, CPAC undoubtedly has a hierarchy. It’s the adult equivalent of a high school cafeteria. The really popular speakers get the Marriott Ballroom for speeches whereas the lesser valued folks are only granted the Marshall Ballroom. The media is divided into tiers as well. Those from big time news organizations get a large room, free coffee and snacks, and a pink media sticker while bloggers are limited to a tiny seating area with too few extension cords. The popular people give short speeches and make themselves scarce because they’ll get mauled if they don’t keep a low profile. Some just dodge the area as much as possible to minimize the number of uncomfortable moments they’ll have. Sarah Palin is the superintendent you always hear about but never see. Speaker Boehner is the likable principal you want to befriend but know is too busy to meet with you one-on-one. Ann Coulter is Homecoming Queen, and Andrew Breitbart and Matt Lewis are on Homecoming court. Mitt Romney is student body president and Newt Gingrich is his charming rival who rubs many the wrong way and simply isn’t diplomatic enough to dethrone the current leader. Rick Perry is the football star who not so long ago seemed to be on top of the world and Homecoming King material, but lost his appeal overnight. Herman Cain is the wannabe cool kid who has a few acquaintances in the in-crowd but is always last to be invited to big events and parties. Gretchen Weiners, anyone?
Then there are those who seem to have less-than-grand CPAC stories. Though I have absolutely no clue what he thinks of CPAC, Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher published a hilarious tweet Thursday that reads, “@andrewbreitbart just almost knocked me down [the] escalator.” It’s all too reminiscent of the generic insufferable school days in which nothing seems to go in your favor. Maybe someone whacks your textbooks out of your hands or accidentally spills his/her lunch on you in front of the whole student body. My only comparable experience took place at the end of sixth grade, when one of my bullies kicked my rolling backpack (thanks, mom and dad for making me an even bigger nerd by making me wear that) with so much force that the wheel broke, provoking laughter and hysteria from passersby and even some callous teachers. We all have stories like this, and while they probably don’t occur at CPAC, it’s
easy to feel like an outsider at this conference.
It’s been awesome to get together with good people this week, even though I’ve had to sit through some really dull, underwhelming speeches (read: boring classes!) throughout the experience. Like in school, there’s no shortage of excitement here, especially with the Occupy protesters chanting outside. As long as I have the chance to see people I care about, I’m fulfilled enough, regardless of what happens on stage. I took the same approach to education: My most valuable experiences were not born in the classroom, but in the presence of classmates and friends.
Two weeks from today, I’ll be covering CPAC, the annual conservative political action conference, in Washington. My political views have changed immensely in recent years and months, especially since moving to New York City and observing the shameless, disgusting spending habits and greed of northeasterners, but I’m thrilled nonetheless to reunite with friends and former coworkers. What better place for that than a nerdfest?
CPAC is going to be particularly intriguing this year. For one, Palin has finally agreed to make an appearance. Occupy Wall Street will be a hot topic — and undoubtedly criticized. There’s also that whole upcoming election to take into account. Mitt Romney, who will likely be the GOP candidate, is signed on to speak at the event (it’s unlikely that he’ll announce he’s dropping out this time around, but if he does, conservatives are most definitely screwed). Herman Cain, Andrew Breitbart, Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, S.E. Cupp, Ann Coulter, and a bunch of other big name conservative commentators will be there. CPAC is a worthwhile experience no matter what your ideology, and I know I’ll come out of the experience with tons of funny stories and awesome new memories.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing all my friends again and covering the highly anticipated speeches. I’m sure a lot will go down at CPAC, too. I met some awesome people there last year and am glad we’ll have another chance to hang out. You couldn’t pay me to leave New York, but DC is home to some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had, and for that, I cannot totally poke fun at its bureaucratic vibes. Countless good memories were made here, some of which are best described in photos. Here is what I think of when DC comes to mind:
The 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference was memorable, hilarious, and loads of fun. This was my second CPAC, the first being my visit to last year’s conference. I was a college kid back then and I remember thinking I was cool for traveling all the way from Arizona to D.C. for a conference. As it turns out, more than half of the attendees are university students.
On day one, I met Michele Bachmann. As soon as I arrived at the conference, I headed to the information desk and asked where Bachmann’s scheduled reception party was supposed to take place.
“Well I’ve heard rumors that it’s actually not real,” the woman told me.
“Really? Then why is it confirmed on the agenda?” I asked.
“I’m not sure…”
But, upon consulting my trusty colleague Matt, I found out Michele Bachmann would be in room 8290 (or something along those lines). Twenty minutes later, I shook the congresswoman’s hand. She looked gorgeous in person, and she was also very gracious. I felt like a giant standing next to her because she’s short.
Later on, a bald guy came up and said, “Do you have a sister in Massachusetts?” Nope.
I also saw Pat Caddell, a public opinion pollster that appears on Fox from time to time. I did a double take of him and then smiled and waved, and he was friendly,so I felt bad for having previously laughed at his beard and stern expressions with interns. He was very sweet.
On Friday, I walked past the Pajama’s Media TV area, where Ann Coulter was seated. Some guy using his cell phone said into the receiver, “I’m standing a few feet away from Ann Coulter, and right now, I’m beside a red-haired girl who is practically an Ann Coulter clone.”
He poked my arm and I laughed, but I wasn’t flattered. That wasn’t the first time I’ve been told I resemble Ann Coulter.
Speaking of Ann, she seemed exhausted during her speech. I remember her 2010 CPAC appearance as much more energetic and pithy than what we saw this year.
Saturday was excellent, although I accidentally ruffled a few feathers in the morning. I unknowingly sat down in the media room next to a complete nut-case freelance reporter. All was fine until the old guy opened his mouth and began spouting Hiroshima conspiracy theories. I nodded for a few minutes as he explained his ideas, but began to worry when he talked about the threats he’d allegedly made against people.
He said some woman at NBC accused him of threatening her with anthrax. Apparently, he’s banned from NBC and a few other news outlets. Whether or not he actually threatened anyone with anthrax, there was no reason for him to share this story with me.
Believe it or not, his batshit insane theories and stories weren’t what ultimately drove me to move to another chair. At the start of the CPAC speeches, he decided to listen to the radio on his laptop. Everyone looked over at him, seeming to hint that he should be quiet so they could, you know, report on and listen to the speakers.
I had to be the one to tell this man to turn off the radio, but he wouldn’t listen to me.
“I can’t,” he said.
I asked him multiple times to stop listening to music in the media room, but he ignored my requests, so I got up in a huff and found another seat. Here’s to hoping someone threw him out of there. It’s incredibly rude to do that in the media room.
A few minutes later, I heard someone boasting, “Yeah, it was all because of my retweet.” Oh, boy.
After Andrew Breitbart spoke, Matt and I followed him around all day. It was fun, and he attracted lots of attendees. I enjoyed meeting the people who wanted to come up and chat with Breitbart. What a good way to make connections at CPAC.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in the media room with Monique and Alec, both of whom made me laugh all day. At one point, Monique said to me, “Some guy just walked right up to you, checked you out, stared at your iPad, and left.” I totally missed out on that entire incident, but it’s probably better that way. I loved getting to know some of the other reporters, bloggers, and writers at the conference. If there’s any place for conservatives to nerd out, it’s CPAC. The atmosphere is always an exciting one.
On my way back, I stumbled upon an NRA life member who screeched in a high-pitched voice, “That was my favorite sticker and now it’s ruined!” I definitely don’t hear that sort of thing every day.
Who needs a boyfriend when you have a magical roommate like Anna to make you dinner-plate sized brownies? I’m going to have to steal her from her man Peter, who she’s visiting this weekend. The bastard.
In all seriousness, I’ll enjoy the rest of the brownie myself and set a goal for Valentine’s Day 2012. Here’s to hoping I’ll be engaged to Jesse Eisenberg by then, or at least dating one of his many clones.
My Daily Caller low-cut neckline slideshow was incredibly hilarious to make, and I loved receiving this message from a military guy:
“OK, so I am shallow…and overseas, far from America. Thanks for the slide show of female celebs w/ nice racks!”
It’s the least I can do for a serviceman!
Just got back from CPAC 2010, which surpassed my expectations in every single way. I’d recommend that every conservative attend at some point. CPAC is an exciting environment, and anyone even moderately conservative will feel welcome and at home.
(SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOLDED ‘SPEAKERS’ TITLE TO BYPASS MY PERSONAL ANECDOTE BELOW)!
Kendra and I arrived in DC late on Wednesday night. I’ll remind you that I lived in northwest DC during summer 2008, so I’m very familiar with the area. I stayed at American University while interning in northern Virginia, and it was legitimately the best time of my life. I was 19 years old, excited to be on the east coast, and in complete adoration of my new friends at American University.
I felt right at home in D.C. Sometimes I feel I should have been born there or New York rather than in California, which has been, for most of my life, an uninspiring place for writing/journalism. D.C. is basically the ideal place for me with regards to writing opportunities. Maybe that’s why I just fell in love with D.C. two summers ago.
There was snow on the ground, but the weather wasn’t super chilly. Thank God for missing the big storms.
Thursday was the most exciting day at CPAC.
I stood a few feet away from Mitt Romney, met Tucker Carlson, caught up with Mary Katharine Ham, who I briefly worked with while interning at Townhall, and chatted with the other Townhall workers. I worked at Townhall two summers ago, and that was also a phenomenal experience for me. I’d really love to be employed there once I graduate, if they’ll have me, and believe me, I’ve been bugging them like no other!
The speakers were great, for the most part. I was really proud to see CPAC’ers boo an anti-gay college guy off the stage.
I liked seeing Marco Rubio, who I hope will win senate in Florida. Michele Bachmann spoke for 45 minutes instead of her slated 15 minute slot. These individuals made fun of Arlen Specter a lot, and for good reason! Traitor. There was minimal Obama-bashing, to my surprise…I feel like the jokes have gotten so old and dull for everybody.
The crowd had a mixed, mostly negative reaction to the speech by Ron Paul, who isn’t necessarily popular with conservatives. His foreign policy theories make me and many others cringe. The entire audience booed when the poll results showed that Ron Paul was voted the favorite CPAC 2010 speaker. For the most part, Ron Paul probably has a few hardcore followers, but the majority of CPAC’ers seemed pretty displeased with his presence, even though he was the final speaker on Thursday. CPAC typically leaves the most anticipated speaker for the end of the day.
It was awesome when Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to the stage. His daughter Liz was scheduled to talk, and she brought along her dad. “Run Dick, run!” everyone yelled, to which Cheney responded, “KNOCK IT OFF!”
Cheney basically flat-out told everyone that he won’t be running for president in 2012. It’s cool.
Scott Brown spoke as well, but I missed it because I was in the VIP room right next to Romney…for five seconds.
I also liked seeing Newt Gingrich speak, and there were of course a few interesting unknowns up at the podium. The panels on Climategate and college campus indoctrination presented fascinating points.
Though I can’t remember her name, a wonderful Irish woman called Avatar a “beautiful, idiotic film.” I still haven’t seen the movie, so I cannot comment, but I do know that I would never pay money to see it or support James Cameron.
Ann Coulter took the stage at noon on Saturday. I’ll admit that I was feeling sick to my stomach right before her speech, and I was dehydrated for the duration of Glenn Beck’s performance. Not fun, but I’m so glad I sat through my discomfort to watch them, they were the most memorable and inspirational, particularly Glenn Beck as he talked about hitting rock bottom as an alcoholic.
I’m really disappointed that Ann Coulter spoke for less than ten minutes. Way to short change us all. She was ready to leave as soon as she marched up to the podium, and that’s unfair to CPAC. I don’t agree with half of what she says, but I cannot doubt that she’s riveting and entertaining. You can’t take your eyes off her when she speaks. I don’t like that she’s so hard on gays and non-Christians, but she has good points on fiscal responsibility.
She seemed in a rush to get off stage, and that was off putting. “I need to catch a flight!” she repeated a million times, and it just seemed really disrespectful to everyone who showed up at CPAC. Yeah, we know you’re busy, but you were the ONLY speaker to seem so eager to leave. It’s a privilege to ralk at CPAC…
More than anything, I was unsatisfied that I couldn’t see more of her. Do I agree with everything she says? Not at all, and I hate that she’s so mean to gays and non-Christians, but she’s definitely fascinating to watch. I like Keith Olbermann’s show for the same reason. He’s a total lunatic, but he’s hilarious and fun on camera. I can’t get enough of these pundits, whether or not I see eye-to-eye with them.
Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker, was the most entertaining speaker and certainly the funniest, and I’ll admit that I cried when he talked about the time when he lay in the fetal position on his apartment carpet 15 years ago, feeling he destroyed his life and tore apart his family as a result of his alcohol abuse.
“I can either die, or fix my life,” he said, and he chose to live and overcome alcoholism.
He’s an excellent advocate for making change in one’s life, and he reminded us all that to worry and to suffer is a choice. We can let ourselves be miserable, or we can be pro-active. As conservatives, we should always be looking for ways to sort through our issues rather than just cry about all that’s going wrong for us. Kudos to the promotion of self-reliance and inner strength. We are all in the driver’s seat of our lives. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
I’m actually unfamiliar with his TV show and background, but he made me laugh several times during his speech. He kind of made excuses for Tiger Woods, and that wasn’t cool. Tiger Woods is an absolute disgrace. He destroyed his family, disrespected his wife, and thought he could get away with everything. Cheating is never warranted, but perhaps one instance is more understandable than what Woods did. If he wanted to sleep around, he never should have gotten married. I have no problem with men who do this as long as they remain unattached. You can’t have it all, though. If you want to have a good family life, don’t cheat on your wife with multiple women.
Don’t get me started on Tiger Woods…
With that, Glenn Beck was amusing. I still wish he didn’t discreetly excuse Tiger Woods, though. He didn’t exactly EXCUSE Tiger Woods. He mainly said, “Of course Woods is sorry, he got caught!” Beck also said something along the lines of how much fun Woods must have been having until it all had to be over. I don’t think that there’s anything positive to be said about Tiger Woods and I was frustrated that Beck would even remotely defend this selfish jerk.
A bunch of college kids got up and spoke on Thursday, and some of them were extremely arrogant, especially considering how unimpressive and average they were! Trevor and I spent a lot of time laughing about this. The UA College Republican club has done a lot more than some of these college speakers, and we would never be so boastful at CPAC. I’d be polite and thankful to get up on that stage. What’s with college kids and this embarrassing sense of entitlement?
It was kind of funny to see them get booed after saying things like, “I know you’re all really here today to see me.” An audience member would immediately yell “RON PAUL!” or “GLENN BECK!” That’s the ugly truth. Be humble or don’t blabber into the microphone. CPAC’ers do not take kindly to braggarts, especially bratty college boys who don’t know a thing about life.
Memory Lane (All about my summer 2008 D.C. experience, you may want to skip over this if you don’t want to read my sentimental thoughts).
I had a nice time wandering around the city with the others. On day two, I dragged the two Kendra’s to Tenleytown, where I lived during DC summer 2008.
I actually showed them the residence hall that I lived in at American University-Tenley campus.
Call it dorky, but that place brings back incredible memories.
That’s just about the worst living condition I’ve ever experienced, and it was the greatest time of my life so far. The building was over 80 years old, the showerheads barely exerted any water, the bathrooms were perpetually disgusting, and the rooms were spartan, but I had so much fun with the people I met and hung out with.
The Kendra’s and I traveled to my old dorm room, which is now a room for three boys instead of two girls. The girl’s bathroom, which was inconveniently located at the end of the hall, is now a men’s restroom. The men’s restroom, which was placed RIGHT next to my bedroom, is now the women’s bathroom.
I miss summer 2008, but I can sort of have the same experience again if I move to DC, which I absolutely love more than any other city in the world. Everyone is well-informed, there is so much going on, the weather isn’t too horrible, the people are interesting in different ways, etc. I want to be back in D.C. I went into a major funk at the start of junior year because I missed D.C. so much.
Tribute to the UACR Club
Anyway, I did a lot of great things this week, and it was a much needed break from school, Tucson, etc.
Thank you to the UA College Republicans for being such awesome people and so unbelievably fun to be around. I definitely want to attend more club meetings this year as well as see everyone on a regular basis.
Everyone stayed up pretty late each night, and it was awesome that we all got so close. It’s not always easy for me to feel 100% comfortable with a huge group of people, but I felt completely welcome with everyone in the UACR’s, all the time.
Plus, we got to talk politics, and that’s always fun for me. I don’t share the exact same views as everyone else, but we had interesting discussions about a myriad of topics. Yay for intellectually stimulating conversation.
I didn’t want to stay out too late any evening. I definitely went out every night, but I wasn’t up until 5 a.m. like certain others. This trip was supposed to be restorative for me in some ways. I wanted a break from all sorts of conflict and complication, and getting enough rest was a good way for me to stay healthy, nice, and apathetic to any minor issues that would otherwise trouble me.
I was, however, happy for my younger CR friends who barely slept because they were having such a good time hanging out with the others. It’s good to see my friends do well. There’s nothing that makes me smile more than that.
At 4:20 a.m., Kendra and Coty had to walk the other Kendra to her shuttle. They waited outside my hotel door, which they’d left wide open. I woke up and got confused as to why the door was ajar, and I immediately flipped out and assumed that someone had walked into our room while I was asleep. I got disoriented, leaped out of bed, and, in my half-conscious state, yelled at the Kendra’s and Coty for being loud. The looks on their faces were priceless and will forever remain in my memory. It was really hysterical. I was totally not awake, yet I was being so rude in my cat pajamas (I have two pairs). Ten seconds later, I realized what I’d done and ran back to bed.
It’s nice to be surrounded by people who aren’t weirded out by odd behavior like that. We laughed it off. We’re all tolerant and patient with each other, and nothing shocks us. I’m grateful to have been part of the UACR’s for four years. I’ve met some of the coolest people ever in that organization. I feel the same way about the Arizona Daily Wildcat staff as well, but I’ve been a CR member since day one of freshman year, so I will always be indebted to that club for providing me with awesome friends back when I was a loner freshman crying myself to sleep every night. Thanks Ry Ellison, Dyanna, Brice McCoy, Nasira, Blake, Mikey, and Joey Chadwick for having my back in the CR’s back then <3
This week, I've learned that I spend a lot of my time defending my political views to my friends and family, and this is ridiculous. No one should try to change me, nor should they make me feel bad about my views. I don't go around calling them socialist communists, even though I totally could. If I want to enjoy watching Fox News and believe that capitalism is the best option for this country, let me be and don't make personal attacks.
I will always love my friends and family, but I am beyond fed up with them shaming me for this. It should not be this way at all.
Besides, life would be so boring if we all agreed on everything.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's back to the grind tomorrow. CPAC is an awesome event, and it's worth going to, even in the snow.