By Craig Shirley
John McCain’s presidential campaign manager from four years ago, Steve Schmidt, has compared the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to the “Star Wars bar scene.”
Reflecting on the dysfunctional 2008 freak show that passed for a campaign against Barack Obama, Mr. Schmidt would know.
The conference’s problem, for many longtime participants, is not the diversity and raucous freedom one might expect to find in a social club on an alien planet. The quandary is that what is now the largest gathering of conservative activists in the nation has wandered far from its original intent, which was a rejection of the status quo.
In the old days, the event represented the best intellectual revolutionary elements of the conservative movement. Panel after panel would argue and debate issues such as abortion, foreign aid, spending policies and about what the true Holy Grail of conservatism entailed – defending institutions or individuals?
The conference was always separate and apart from the GOP establishment, even in the Reagan years. Today it no longer represents a joyous insurgency but is instead part of the Washington political establishment.
Indeed, CPAC was as much about taking on the GOP statists as anything.