Sadly, the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference is over. And while none of the speakers used Super Big Gulps as props this year, the level of stupid reached all new depths. One speaker after another proved that far-right conservatives are more interested in thoughtless applause and bumper-sticker slogans than serious policymaking. For example, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson delivered a speech in which he talked about sexually transmitted diseases. I give you CPAC science, by Phil Robertson:
I mean, I'm reading this stuff from the CDC and it says, 'how many sexual encounters does one have to have to catch a sexually transmitted illness?' It said one. I'm figuring the out the odds on that one. How many seconds does it take to get genital herpes? It said 30 seconds. I'm like, whoa, that's pretty quick.
"Which is awesome for me, because I usually finish in less than 20!"
He didn't really say that last thing.
The only speaker who wasn't as well received was the would-be 2016 Republican nominee Jeb Bush, who was booed on several occasions. A gaggle of attendees went so far as to march out of the auditorium -- one of whom was "a man in Colonial garb who was carrying a yellow 'Don’t Tread on Me' flag." Shocker.
This year, whether by design or coincidence, CPAC successfully covered all its bases by featuring dumbstupids spanning three generations. Who were these multi-generational representatives of the increasingly marginalized far-right brand?
Generation X'er Sarah Palin
Just off the heels of her bizarre speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, leading many of us to question whether she was in the last throes of Syphilitic dementia, Palin was invited to deliver the opening night address. Her remarks centered around the troops and war (what else?), but after some predictable yankee-doodle-doofery she segued into a section about the brutal length of a typical Iraq or Afghanistan deployment -- 45 months, compared with a 13 month deployment for Vietnam -- and the toll that such deployments have taken on the troops.
"The longer someone's deployed, and then redeployed, well, the more likely they'll suffer PTSD. And about half a million of our returning vets, they suffer some form of it. They suffer disproportionate unemployment numbers. And the average divorce rate, it's around 80 percent. And worse, aw friends, worse, the suicide rate -- the suicide rate among our best and our brightest is 23 a day."
Naturally, she went on to blame Obama and the Veterans Administration for this, when the common denominator here isn't either one, it's two wars and the administration that established those outrageously long deployments. By the way, given the divorce rate, shouldn't the pro-marriage people be a little less gung-ho about rushing to war? It's also worth noting that the Senate Republicans filibustered numerous bills designed to help veterans returning from war. To name a few:
H.R. 466 - Wounded Veteran Job Security Act
H.R. 1168 -- Veterans Retraining Act
H.R. 1171 - Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization
H.R. 1293 -- Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act
S.3457 -- Veterans Jobs Corps Act
Your "support the troops" party, ladies and gentlemen. Later, Palin was treated to a standing ovation when she said, "The only thing standing between the savages and us is the red, white and blue -- the United States military." So, just after blasting the terrible cost and consequences of war (PTSD, divorce rates, suicides) she announced that we ought to send our clearly exhausted military back to war against ISIS (which it is already), and even Boko Haram in Africa. What could possibly go wrong?
"It's said that old men declare wars, and then they send the young ones to fight 'em. So, it's the duty of he who sends them to actually make sure that we can win those wars. And it's our duty to elect an honorable commander-in-chief who is willing to make the same sacrifices he sends others away to make."
I'm pretty sure it was she who just said "honorable" presidents ought to have military or even war-zone experience. This is weird, of course, because none of the early contenders for the GOP presidential nomination have military experience. In addition, Ted Nugent, who's Palin's best friend right now, reportedly smeared feces all over his body in order to get a draft deferment.
Palin went on to note that in the past, our leaders stood up to Nazis and fascists with "moral clarity." You know what those leaders also had at their disposal? Every able-bodied man, 18-years or older. One way to ease the number and length of existing tours would be to reinstitute the draft. Someone should ask Palin if, considering the rate of suicides and divorce, whether she'd be up for supporting it. I think we can predict her response.
Millennial TV host Tomi Lahren
In what was clearly an audition to be the next blonde bobblehead on Fox News Channel, Tomi Lehren (who?) successfully made Palin look like an elder statesman, and I wouldn't be shocked if that was the goal. At 22-years-old, Tomi, who until a few months ago probably dotted the "i" in her name with a tiny heart, appeared as a token GOP Millennial. And frankly, if I was a Millennial, I'd be personally offended that CPAC considered her to be explicitly representative of my generation.
Regardless, Tomi's job was to debunk the stereotype that all conservatives are old, rich, white men, so she pointed out that she's none of those things -- except white, of course, and she insisted she had no intention of apologizing for her whiteness (for more remarks like this, check out the Stormfront website).
She wrapped up her speech with a zinger:
So, I think we’ve gone through this: Old, rich, white males. I want to remind you, let’s look at the top three Democrats for 2016. You’ve got Hillary, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden? Old, rich, white, and if the pantsuit fits, male too?
I don't -- huh? Are pantsuits masculine? I think Tomi was going for a "look at how manly those old ladies are" joke, but again, show me a male politician who wears pantsuits. Doy.
Baby Boomer Donald Trump
Proving Tomi's point that conservatives aren't just old, white, rich guys, Trump -- the whitest, old rich guy ever -- was a featured guest over the weekend. Even though Trump has zero political aspirations -- or, at least, zero serious political aspiration -- he somehow keeps getting invited back to CPAC. This time, in addition to delivering a speech, Trump was the subject of a Q&A moderated by Sean Hannity.
At one point, Hannity asked Trump what he would do about Iran's nuclear program and what actions he'd take "to defeat ISIS because I don’t hear you saying ‘degrade them’ (like President you-know-who). I hear you saying ‘defeat them’." His answer might surprise you:
Part of the problem we have, Sean, we have people that are diplomats doing our (negotiating). They know nothing about negotiating. All they know how to do is keep their job. They know nothing about negotiating. If we had the right people, we could solve the ISIS problem and we could solve the Iran problem and a lot more quickly than you’d think.
Did you catch that? President Donald Trump said he'd negotiate with ISIS. He'd negotiate with terrorists. And what exactly would Trump offer ISIS in return for ending its crusade? What concessions would he make? Let's hear it. If ISIS is such an existential threat -- worse than the Nazis according to Sarah Palin -- shouldn't Trump tell us more about this magical negotiation tactic that he'd use to end the war with ISIS "more quickly than you'd think?" Of course he won't tell us because it doesn't exist. But it's hilarious that during a convention of far-right conservatives, one of their top-shelf celebrities said we should negotiate with ISIS.
Worse, he also suggested we negotiate with Iran -- the very trespass the congressional Republicans are crapping their cages about, so much so they've invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session where it's assumed he'll scold Obama for, yes, negotiating with Iran.
All told, this is supposed to boost the conservative brand. And it probably did, but only with the far-right choir. I refuse to believe that such nincompoopery works on anyone outside of the CPAC epistemic bubble. So far.