Cracking Up at CPAC

This is the last day of CPAC. They go by so fast. And so often. CPAC is supposed to be annual but it feels as if they have one every other month.

CPAC’s chairman, Matt Schalpp, has been accused of grabbing the crotch of a male Herschel Walker staffer, which may be why there are empty seats at the current event. It’s being held just outside Washington, DC, I understand, so filling the seats shouldn’t be that hard. See The Sad, Desolate Scenes of CPAC 2023 at The New Republic.

On Friday, Donald Trump Jr. attempted a “Willy Wonka” moment by telling people there were candy bars with golden tickets under some seats. They were VIP tickets to his father’s reception today. After people checked under their own seats they checked under the empty seats around them. Apparently the stunt didn’t elevate the prevailing sour mood.

Nick Fuentes was removed from the convention yesterday.

“We removed Nick Fuentes from his attempt to attend our conference. His hateful racist rhetoric and actions are not consistent with the mission of CPAC,” Matt Schlapp said in a statement posted on Instagram.

I don’t know why they bothered. They aren’t fooling anybody but themselves. After Fuentes was kicked out his supporters hung out outside the convention center and heckled the attendees.

Outside the event, based on videos he posted on Telegram, Fuentes’ supporters walked the streets around the venue and hurled bigoted vitriol at prominent CPAC attendees.

“You work for Jews! What’s wrong with you,” they shouted at one man.

“You’re on a gay date!” they yelled at another.

Oh, and Nikki Haley was heckled by Trump supporters.

Usually anyone thinking of running for POTUS as a Republican would be at CPAC. ABC reports,

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who are seen as possible 2024 hopefuls, are among those staying away — with some opting instead to attend a donor retreat hosted by the anti-tax Club for Growth.

“Ten years ago, [CPAC] was an opportunity to test your messages to conservative leaders and influencers all over the country and to have a big audience get to know you from the podium. And I don’t think that’s where it is today,” said one aide to a possible 2024 candidate. “Last time I was there, it almost felt more like a college crowd than it did a serious thinker crowd.”

Possibly the biggest headlines of the convention were made by Steve Bannon, who declared war on Fox News.

Nobody likes Fox News right now. Unfortunately, Fox’s ratings are doing just fine. At the same time, there are reports Trump is now “shadowbanned” at Fox News. Matt Stieb writes at New York,

According to four Trump aides who spoke with Semafor, the former president is now facing an unofficial ban at Fox News, with the network refusing to book him or even talk much about him in the context of the Republican presidential primary. “It’s certainly — however you want to say, quiet ban, soft ban, whatever it is — indicative of how the Murdochs feel about Trump in this particular moment,” said one aide. Another said they’ve heard directly from people at Fox News that the policy exists.

While the network did not respond to a request for comment, the approach is playing out on television: Trump hasn’t been on Fox News since September, when its hosts rallied around him in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago raid and he told Sean Hannity that he could declassify documents by “thinking about it.” They even skipped his trip last week to East Palestine, Ohio — a major talking point in the debate over the environmental disaster. Meanwhile, future 2024 also-ran Vivek Ramaswamy has been on the network four times in the ten days since he announced his run. By the metric of showing up on TV, Florida governor Ron DeSantis appears to be the favorite, appearing on Fox shows four times in three days this week.

There was a time it seemed everyone on the Right spoke with one voice, as if they all received the same talking points of the day and stuck to it. In 2001 they were all saying the outgoing Bill Clinton staff vandalized the White House, for example. Saddam Hussein ordered the 9/11 attacks. Democrats politicized Paul Wellstone’s funeral. John Kerry lied about his war experiences. It doesn’t matter that none of those things were true; the righties got the memo, and they all sang the same tune for days on end. But they can’t pull off that kind of unity any more. And I don’t see them pulling together anytime soon.