So, we have CPAC, which it seems like half the Republicans in the nation were not invited to, and which a good many conservatives were also not welcomed. At gatherings like this, everyone has their own advice, and when a multiplicity of conflicting advice is offered, the result is chaos and confusion.
With this in mind, we will not go into details as to how Rand Paul urged the GOP to become more libertarian. Given his
hostility to social conservatism nuance on social issues and high regard for the 10th Amendment, and advocacy of foolhardy isolationism wisely considered non-interventionism, Paul cannot be thought of as the libertarian/conservative heir to Ronald Reagan, but rather the Libertarian heir (with a big “L”) of Ron Paul. Rand Paul wants to saw off two of the three legs of the conservative stool, but such a stool will not stand. Or win elections. We liked the filibuster, but that was about it.
Nor will we go into details as to how a participant wanted to bring back segregation. Oddly, he was wearing a Santorum sticker. (The Think Progress post at the link claims that participants defended slavery, but that does not appear to be the case at all.)
Nor will we go into details as to how the great toe-sucker of the political world, Dick Morris, proposed that the GOP put social conservatives adrift in a life raft with a Bengal tiger.
Finally, we will not go into details as to how erstwhile presidential contender Mitt Romney told the GOP that it must learn from his mistakes, and become more liberal.
All of the above falls wide of the mark. The true prophet at CPAC was non-conservative pollster Pat Caddell:
Pat Caddell, the Fox News Contributor and Democrat pollster who engineered Jimmy Carter’s 1976 Presidential victory, blew the lid off CPAC on Thursday with a blistering attack on “racketeering” Republican consultants who play wealthy donors like “marks.”
“I blame the donors who allow themselves to be played for marks. I blame the people in the grassroots for allowing themselves to be played for suckers….It’s time to stop being marks. It’s time to stop being suckers. It’s time for you people to get real,” he told the audience that included two top Republican consultants …
“When you have the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee and the political director of the Romney campaign, and their two companies get $150 million at the end of the campaign for the ‘fantastic’ get-out-the-vote program…some of this borders on RICO [the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations,” Caddell told the crowd. “It’s all self dealing going on. I think it works on the RICO thing. They’re in the business of lining their pockets.”
“The Republican Party,” Caddell continued, “is in the grips of what I call the CLEC–the consultant, lobbyist, and establishment complex.” Caddell described CLEC as a self serving interconnected network of individuals and organizations interested in preserving their own power far more than they’re interested in winning elections …
As a Democrat, Caddell said he could tell the truth about the failings of the Republicans 2012 campaign efforts since “I have no interest in the Republican Party.” He compared Republicans unfavorably to Democrats.” In my party we play to win. We play for life and death. You people play for a different kind of agenda…Your party has no problem playing the Washington Generals to the Harlem Globetrotters.”
Caddell left no doubt he is not an admirer of Mitt Romney’s campaign management skills. He called Romney “the worst executive I’ve seen” when it comes to leading a political campaign. Romney’s failure to attack Obama’s Benghazi debacle during the foreign policy debate was “cravenness” that came about because his consultants told him “we don’t want to look warlike.”
Caddell also said Romney failed to back his campaign with his own money when it was most needed. “My question for Romney is, you spent $45 million [of your own money] in your 2008 campaign where you didn’t have a chance. Why didn’t you give your campaign a loan in the spring instead of letting Obama define you?”
Romney, Caddell said, was not on top of his game when he failed to anticipate attacks based on his business career. “You didn’t know Bain was coming? Ted Kennedy used it against you.” Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Senate election in Massachusetts.
Caddell was equally caustic in his evaluation of the Republican consultants who managed Romney’s campaign. “Of course this election could have been won. It should have been won,” he said. “The Romney campaign was the worst campaign in my lifetime except for ninety minutes [in the first debate] thanks to Barack Obama.”
“There was a failure of strategy, a failure of tactics, a massive failure of messaging. Most of all there was a total failure of imagination.” Caddell singled out Stuart Stevens, a key figure in Romney’s campaign, in a particularly withering critique. “Stevens had as much business running a campaign as I do sprouting wings and flying out of this room,” he said to an audience that applauded.
Caddell said that Romney inexplicably allowed Obama to define him without fighting back. If Obama had a 50% favorable rating on election day, he had an 80% chance of winning. If he had a 45% favorable rating on election day, he had a 90% chance of losing. On election day, Obama’s favorable rating was 51% because, Caddell said, “Republicans failed to hold him down.”
“A majority of the people wanted to repeal Obamacare, [an issue that] the Republican Party abandoned,” Caddell noted. He added that “on the issue of bigger or smaller government, one-third of the people who want smaller government voted for Obama.” …
Caddell predicted that the Republican Party, unless it became the anti-establishment, anti-Washington party, would become extinct, like the 19th century Whig Party. “These people [in the consulting-lobbying-establishment complex] are doing business for themselves. They are a part of the Washington establishment. These people don’t want to have change.” …
When an audience member asked Caddell why he, a Democrat, was offering Republicans advice that would help them beat his own party, his response was met with huge applause. “I’m not a fan of Barack Obama,” Caddell said. “My first allegiance is to my country. I have paid a huge price, and when I watch you people screwing up I’m offended.”
Indeed. We are offended as well. The GOP establishment (including Rand Paul) is playing conservatives for saps, and has been for a long, long time.
Conservatives need to wake up and take back their party, and then their country. This will not happen because Obama and the liberals fail–it will only happen through a long slog of hard work, through a rejection of the conmen and demagogues running things within the party, and through reaching out to minorities, poor people, and people in blue and purple states with the conservative message. This message won in 1980, and it won even in blue states. It can win again. But it has to be tied to a hope that our nation can become great once again, a shining light on a hill, where everyone can find liberty, and opportunity, and success.