CPAC reminds conservatives that beliefs still stand

""We may be at that toilet bowl retching because we went to a party, but we will make it because we know tomorrow will again be morning in America,"" Glenn Beck said at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, which I was lucky enough to attend among 10,000 others. Imagine sitting through Beck's speech, which was pregnant with alcohol and sickness references, through head-pounding dehydration as a result of sitting in reserved seats for several hours without drinking any water, and you'd be me.


Beck explained that this country is experiencing tough times in all senses of the word, yet it remains the United States of America at the end of the day, and for this, we should all be grateful. I may have been nauseous and parched for the duration of Beck's 45-minute-long speech, but I was still at CPAC, which I hoped would promote more responsible government spending. Whether you're a staunch Republican, moderate conservative or political leftist, there's a lot you can take away from CPAC, if nothing more than great stories.

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Media outlets and blogs such as the Daily Beast, the San Francisco Chronicle and CBS News have all been talking about Beck's keynote speech, even though he was only one of the dozens of CPAC speakers at the three-day conference. It would be impossible to describe all aspects of CPAC, but I'd like to cover more than just the heavily discussed Glenn Beck performance.


Scott Whitlock of News Busters reported the shocking speech by Ryan Sorba of Young Americans for Freedom, ""Sorba denounced CPAC for allowing a group of gay conservatives to participate in the event. Sorba screamed, ‘I'd like to condemn CPAC for bringing GOPRIDE to this event! Bring it! Bring it! I love it.'""


Whitlock did not report, however, that the CPAC crowd broke out into cacophonous boos and jeers after Sorba said this, and they kept at it until Sorba left the podium. It's important to note that many CPAC'ers, myself included, were highly uncomfortable with and disgusted by Sorba's homophobic message.  This sort of intolerance brought unwelcome negativity to CPAC.


Ann Coulter gave a 10-minute speech, which drew laughter from the audience, especially when Coulter said, ""Keith Olbermann is a girl."" It was slightly off-putting that she seemed so eager to leave the stage, however. ""I have a flight to catch!"" she repeatedly told the crowd as people raised their hands to ask something.


After interrupting a woman who had a long-winded question, Coulter walked away from the podium to apparently hop on an airplane. Coulter was the only speaker to display this kind of diva-like behavior, which came across as disrespectful to the audience members. 


Dick Cheney, who was not scheduled to come to CPAC, made a surprise visit on Thursday. The crowd went nuts and a series of people cheered, ""Run, Dick, run!"" in hopes that Cheney will run for presidency in 2012.


Cheney reminded everyone that this is not in the cards. Just days later, he suffered severe chest pains which reportedly resulted from a mild heart attack. Clearly, he's in no shape for the commander-in-chief position.


CPAC had a lot of excellent panelists and memorable lesser-known speakers. Ann McElhinney, director of Not Evil Just Wrong, received a standing ovation at the end of her speech, which entailed her calling Avatar a ""beautiful, idiotic film."" I still haven't seen the film, but it's not something I'd pay to watch, especially considering the whiny viewers who want to kill themselves because they can't live in a perfect society like Pandora. This naive attitude gives new meaning to the phrase, ""cry me a river.""


It was slightly amusing to watch some of the cocky college student speakers crash and burn as they boasted about their marginal campus accomplishments. CPACers chanted ""Ron Paul"" or ""Dick Cheney"" as one student jokingly said into the microphone, ""I know you're all really here to see me.""


Lesson to all college kids: Don't be so obvious about your pomposity if you have the opportunity to talk at one of the biggest political conferences in the world.  Humility, particularly in this setting, is golden, particularly when speaking alongside pundits like Glenn Beck and politicians such as Scott Brown.


Overall, CPAC reminds all types of conservatives that their beliefs and ideas are not completely dead in this country. I commend Glenn Beck for telling the Republican Party that it has had spending problems in recent years, and I hope that this constructive criticism will ultimately strengthen the GOP. Perhaps President Barack Obama could even take this advice so the United States as a whole would be better off.



— Laura Donovan is a creative writing senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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