Guest Editorials

A gay CPAC experience

by Craig Ogan

The Conservative Political Action Conference of 2012 is the winter festival of conservative bloviating (used in the fondest meaning possible), held in Washington, D.C. each year.

The very idea of sending a reporter from QSaltLake to the enemy camp is both delicious and horrifying. Luckily, I’m a long-time conservative and, according to most gay politicos, self-loathing.

The three-day trip to D.C. was to hobnob with the likes of Mitt, Newt, the Ricks, Michele, Speaker John, my dear Sarah and Ann C. Even Utah’s own freshman Sen. Mike Lee had a chance to pontificate. However you react to their politics, they are having an effect on U.S. politics.

Oliver North

The clean-cut, medal-wearing Marine colonel testified before a Senate committee while he served in the Reagan administration. He was involved in something not technically illegal, but very improper. The lawmakers were loaded for bear, they wanted him to be contrite and apologize for the policy indiscretions he had made. He went in as a decorated Marine and didn’t back down, and didn’t apologize.

He made a strong, if fact-light and emotion-heavy, case for his actions.

The committee backed off.

That was North and how he operated. He has gotten under the craw of a lot of folks ever since.

North presented the American Heroes Award at CPAC and his voice was gravely still as he spoke with military self-confidence. His presentation was reminiscent of an NFL highlight reel. The music was dramatic and the film of war footage was more sensational than any clash of fullbacks and defensive lineman.

He gave a tour d’ horizon of the recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq. He profiled members of the military serving, average age 21 and with 13 years of education, young but not dumb. The privations and hardships the individual members of the military face in those places are daunting.

North’s talent as a military raconteur, however, was most evident in his explanation of a photo he shot of a Marine medic carrying a wounded man to safety. The photo shows the Marine carrying the wounded soldier on his shoulders, out of a fire fight in Iraq to a helicopter ambulance.

As North told it, the Marine went on to the field of battle, dressed the wounds and picked up the soldier and carried him to the helicopter, all while under fire.

The Marine returned to the field of fire and someone (North says it was a Reuters News correspondent) called to the Marine, “Why did you do that? Didn’t you notice that that was a Republican Guard?” He meant it was one of the Iraq Elite Corps of Soldiers.

The Marine’s reply, “Didn’t you notice that he was wounded? He needed help. We’re Americans, that’s what we do.”

Noble lie? Most likely.

Great story? Yes.

Ann Coulter

She spawned look-a-likes at CPAC. Countless long-haired, leggy, 20-something blondes in the black, sleeve-less Coco Chanel-like, little black dress. Perched on impossibly high stiletto heels, they run the vendors booths, order coffee and pose in the lobby.

The role model showed up with long hair and dressed in black – but not the traditional little black dress. Rather, knee-high suede boots, mini-skirt and a black “bolero” top.

Is she Mort Sahl redux? Those who remember his Playboy columns and his stand-up on Ed Sullivan will see his delivery in Coulter’s 20-minute bit.

She sets up the joke the same way – she starts with a topical narrative, gets some rolling laughter in the exposition, then she zings the punch line by either playing off the direction she was setting up with an outrageous  allusion or going in the opposite direction.

The CPAC audience cheers, hollers and laughs as she takes the stage — they know her shtick. Her bon mot on the difference between Republicans and Democrats —“Republican candidates all try to convince the voters that they are the next Reagan. No Democrat ever campaigns to be the next Carter.”

She does a riff on Obama, naturally, getting laughs about what he promised and what’s he’s delivered.

She does a Pelosi joke, big laugh. But it led to an especially uncomfortable riff about the physical differences between conservative women (who she said were all “babes”) and liberal women she condemned to a life of dowdiness because they had to date “liberal men” (raised eyebrow, we all know what that means). She claims all women are “right-wingers” because they don’t want to pick up the check for dinner.

The gravamen of her routine, however, was not Mort Sahlesque.  It was how much she likes Mitt Romney and disdains Newt Gingrich. Instead of a black pencil skirt, she should have had a Brigham Young University cheerleader outfit.

She said the big criticism against Romney is that he is “square.” Her simple applause line returned, “Well hip has bankrupted this country so let’s try square for a while.”

Her Q-and-A session with the audience leads to some good impromptu lines, including, “With the federal government in charge of health benefits, no plan will be approved unless it meets the approval of the San Francisco City Council.”

She’s pretty, in a self-aware way, and she’s pretty funny. However, unlike Sahl, (maybe I mean Joan Rivers, I don’t know) she seems to want to make you laugh and agree, not laugh and think.

Skin in the Game

Pundit and shock-jock journalist Andrew Breitbart is a complete conservative version of a Hollywood hipster. His so-called solutions to problems are nothing more than a reach for attention.

His lack of skin in the game gave him the ability to rouse the CPACers with his mix of bravado, gratuitous assertion, invective, mannered vulgarity and enthusiasm. They jumped to their feet when he claimed:

•             Bill and Bernadette Dorn-Ayers have plotted since 1995 to elect Barack Obama.

•             Obama is a Manchurian candidate positioned by radicals to destroy capitalism and the Catholic Church.

•             Obama and liberals look down their noses at the country and conservatives.

•             The United States Constitution is shredded daily by the White House.

•             College professors are “totalitarian freaks.”

•             Occupy is a well-funded and organized extension of the anti-war and anti-capitalist movement pushed by billionaire capitalist George Soros.

•             There are two paths: the conservative, which furthers American Exceptionalism and the other leading to destruction.

The crowd cheered when he called for all conservatives to unite behind whomever the GOP nominates.

“Anyone who stands with me in the fight against the left—black, white, Latino, Asian, gay or straight—is my ally,” Breitbart said.

That got him a standing ovation from a group who just expelled GOProud, a conservative gay group from their midst. The irony of the moment was stifling.

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