UPDATE 11:22p EST: You must watch these two videos of Andrew Breitbart. The man was one of my and Matt's favorite speakers last year at CPAC and he's had a great 2009, helping James O'Keefe & Hannah Giles to break the ACORN tapes. This video is classic Breitbart and exposes the liberal media.
UPDATE 6:29p EST: I'm just going to state right up front: I do not understand the appeal of Ron Paul. People chant "End the Fed" throughout his speech and... what do they propose to do once they accomplish this pipe dream? Ron Paul's speech? He revises the last 150 years of American history in favor of his brand of libertarianism/conservatism.
This isn't to say that there isn't some stuff to recommend Mr. Paul. For example: I stand with him in his defence of the Constitution. I just can't abide his more outlandish proposals, like ending the Fed.
The best speakers we listened to today were, in no particular order, Mike Pence, John Ashcroft, and Viet Dinh. Mike Pence delivered a speech that some people described as the best in CPAC history. I wouldn't go that far as there've been a lot of good speakers here over the year, but it was very good. Pence could very well run for and win the Presidency in 2012. I would not be shocked.
John Ashcroft (see my tweets) delivered a passionate defense of Bush-era legal handling of enemy combatants, etc. Given that Obama has mostly continued the Bush legal legacy, I'd say Ashcroft and co. have mostly been vindicated.
Viet Dinh was the man we did not know who delivered the goods. He was involved in a debate about relationship between liberty & security and he soundly (to my mind) whipped Bob Barr. Dinh's knowledge of relevant legislation and American legal history was on full display. I suggest you do a Google search and read what you can by Mr. Dinh.
The biggest disappointment, for me, was Tim Pawlenty. As the Old Man said, "the message was right, the delivery just left something to be desired." He did not have the charisma, presence, and speaking ability of Mitt Romney or Mike Pence. Granted, these largely superficial things are not everything, but it would be nice to have someone who can make a more compelling case for conservative principles. His speech was largely a rambling stream of consciousness that was at times too self congratulatory. This is the type of thing that bothers me from Obama. It bothers me no less when the person is a Republican. If a candidate is going to speak about his or her life, I want it to be in a self-deprecating manner. They should let someone else talk them up.
I begin today's CPAC blog post the same way I ended yesterday's, with a link to a Politico article about Mitt Romney.
Everyone who ever writes or talks about Romney's chances in 2012 always pounds on his Massachusetts healthcare plan and rightly so. It has elements of a government takeover of healthcare that conservatives to not like. Romney pitches it as an issue wherein states ought to be able to choose what they want to do, rather than the federal government. This is an interesting response, using the conservative argument for federalism to defend his unpopular-among-conservatives healthcare plan.
CPACers are a hard charging bunch. They conference hard during the day and party hard through the night and then somehow, many of them make it up the next morning in time for the 8:30a speaker.
Rather than going to one of the many CPAC-related soirees, we went to dinner at Pot Belly, a local's favorite sandwich establishment and followed that up with the Syracuse vs Georgetown men's college basketball game--a game won by Syracuse. We were collectively struck by how well Syracuse traveled for the game as they literally occupied the entire upper portion of the arena and the Orange was spread liberally throughout the rest of the Verizon Center. The only problem was, none of us AT&T users could get our cell phones to work. I don't know whether to blame Verizon or AT&T.
Like yesterday, the best CPAC coverage from us and everyone else is on that Twitter. Click here for me, here for Matt, and here for the #CPAC10 aggregator.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.