by Taylor Marsh
I moved to the D.C. area just in time for CPAC. Saturday didn't disappoint, in that watching the circus go by sort of way. (Tweets here)
I got there in time for Ann Coulter who delivered a performance of one liners with little in between. That's not my review, but what I heard around me: "No substance, but she's comical." But she delivers it effortlessly. Talking about the names Lincoln was called back in his day, Ann brought it up to date: "If only Al Sharpton was around (Lincoln) would have known he was a victim of racism." When talking about President Johnson, Coulter stopped in mid-sentence, remembering the youth of the crowd, telling the "whippersnappers" they'd have to look him up, but it was a doozy. Stating that most in the crowd don't even remember Bill Clinton. Then it was back to Obama: They keep comparing him to Reagan. Evidently they don't have a Democratic president to compare.
Coulter was followed by David Horowitz and company ranting about Hollywood, including Robert Davi, who was introduced as an actor whose career was in jeopardy because he's a right-wing conservative. No one told the CPAC crowd that Davi's career ended a long time ago. But who knows, maybe he can do for himself what turning full wingnut did for Dennis Miller.
The hilarity began early, especially when David Bosse paid insulting tribute to Michael Moore, then credited Moore with giving him a career. That's when the "recovering European" duo of Ann McElhinny and Phelim McAleer went into a diatribe against Al Gore trying to hawk the film they'd completed, which amounted to showing clips of pure fiction where global warming is concerned. I thought their segment would never end, especially once they started using English school children to sell their celluloid.
But it was when Niger Innes took the stage that the big ring circus lights came on. Not only was he prepared with lots of juicy Dem hating red meat, but he paved the way for the main attraction, Rush Limbaugh.
If anyone was wondering who is the Republican beacon of the Republicans, watching the CPAC crowd react put all doubts to rest.
For the first ten minutes Rush was on fire. He posted the script, but it hardly gives the atmospherics, which tilted towards the bizarre almost immediately. Whatever polish Ann Coulter provided, Rush delivered none of it. Maybe she can give him some pointers if he does this again, which he seemed to hint at at one point in the speech. But it sure helps when the crowd adores you so that whatever faults you have are ignored.
Like almost immediately something manifested that looked horribly wrong. Rush was sweating profusely and fidgeting like he was about to come out of his skin. The room was very cold, with people around me shivering, putting on their coats, while Rush proclaimed how hot it was. It's doubtful the lights on Rush made the difference. It had to be nerves. Well, why not? He sits in his EIB studio bubble every day. Now he's in front of everyone, including being televised on cable, as he mentioned continually until not even his audience was laughing at the joke anymore. He was actually face to face with real, live people. But whatever he delivered it wasn't a speech. More like a steam of conscious babble, just like he does on radio, though there were no commercials to mercifully break the blather. Honestly, I expected much more.
But one moment was utterly stunning. It was when Rush and the entire CPAC audience took the time and effort to malign John Kerry's service to this country, even laughing at the mention of Vietnam. Rush's disrespect for the military dripped off the very mention of Kerry's name. It was disgraceful. For a crew who professes to respect the military, at every turn Republicans reveal their disdain for our troops, especially if they're Democrats. It's the same with Republican military policy, which has strung our forces out and depleted our reserves.
But I'm really at a loss of what to make of Rush's performance on the whole. It was a rambling, sometimes incoherent, self-indulgent mess. There was something pathetically insecure about the lack of structure to the speech, but also Rush's herky jerky, sweat wiping, water drinking, fist bumping, awkward pauses, note looking, never ending regurgitation of what Rush thought everyone had to hear. Because he was addressing the nation, you know, which he repeated so many times he even got sick of it.
Still, make no mistake about it. Being on the outs fires people up and the CPAC crowd, most of them college students, were definitely fired up.
But who's going to lead them? Rush, who won the media straw poll? Mitt Romney, who won the candidate poll?
The only loser was Sean Hannity. Glenn Beck beat him out for media favorite, placing behind Rush. Glenn Beck. Ouch.