Monday, February 13, 2012

Obfuscating CPAC

With CPAC finishing Saturday, many people are trying to pick winners and loser. Actually, I should put that differently, many people are trying to spin winners and losers, Politico included. And boy are they wrong!

Santorum the Winner? Politico declared Santorum the big “winner,” even though he came in second to Romney, because last year he had only 2% support and now he has 31%. This is ludicrous.

Let’s start with the obvious fact Politico skipped: Romney won. That makes him THE winner. Indeed, the real story here is that in the “anybody but Romney” world of conservatism, Romney should not have won this straw poll at all. He should have come in dead last. Instead, he won by 7% (38% to 31%) topping last year’s score of 22%. That makes him THE BIG winner.

If you don’t think that’s true, then ask yourself why Ricky went out Sunday and whined that the vote was rigged? He wouldn’t do that if this loss hadn’t hurt him. (As an aside, note that once again a “conservative” is playing into liberal smears by attacking other conservatives as vote riggers.)

And why did this hurt Ricky? Because with his huge margins of victory in Minnesota and Missouri, anything less than a 50% total among a gathering of 10,000 of the country’s most highly conservative activists must be seen as a declaration of a lack of faith in Santorum. That makes this a HUGE loss, and it means the real winners are Romney (as stated above) and Newt. Why Newt? Because this result tells us that Santorum can’t seal the deal and become the “anybody but Romney” guy. To the contrary, this vote shows a tremendous amount of unease among conservatives with Santorum.

That unease, by the way, was encapsulated by Christine O’Donnell who accidentally said into an open mic, “Santorum’s fiscal record is more liberal than Romney’s social record.” That plus some conservatives fear the whole Torquemada thing won’t sell.

Obama the Loser? Politico also declared Obama a CPAC loser. They claim his contraception policy controversy couldn’t have happened at a worse time because it “galvanized conservatives at the conference.” Give me a break.

Let’s play Devil’s Advocate. Isn’t the timing a win for Obama? With one well-timed policy, he’s got all the CPAC lemmings worked up into a tizzy over abortion. They will now go home, full of rage, and tell all their friends that abortion needs to be THE issue for this race. That means supporting Reverend Ricky, the weakest candidate in the field. It means spouting a LOT of rhetoric that will freak out the straights. And it means taking their eyes off the real issue -- economics. Indeed, on Tuesday, Obama will unveil a new budget with a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit which lavishes money on his crony friends and raises taxes on everyone. . . but these CPACers will be busy foaming at the mouth over abortion.

Call me crazy, but it sounds like a brilliant bit of timing by Obama.

The real problem for Obama on the contraception issue is that the Catholic Church has declared war against him, and they have a lot of power in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where CPAC has less influence than a jelly donut.

Politico also ignored something else that was significant vis-à-vis Obama and CPAC, even after mentioning it in their article. To stop Ron Paul from winning their straw poll, CPAC made it much easier for everyone to vote. And guess what? They still got 300 fewer votes than last year. And that’s despite this being an election year with a highly contested primary. That’s a sign of trouble for conservatives. Win for Obama.

Palin the Winner? Politico declared Palin a winner because she drew a large crowd. From this, they concluded she would be “a major figure on the right for decades to come.” Ok, but keep this in mind. Despite claiming to be neutral, she unofficially endorsed Newt right about the time polls showed that he would win South Carolina. He did win, which was no surprise. Then he got his butt handed to him in Florida by Romney and then by Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Which is more telling of Palin’s power, that a group of activists crowded around her celebrity-style at a conference or that conservative voters in four states ignored her endorsement?

Ron Paul Loser? Politico says Paul lost because he did much worse in this straw poll than the last one, which “shows the limits of his support among conservatives.” Wrong. This completely misjudges Ron Paul’s goals.

There are many forms of winning. Paul knows he will never win the White House. That’s not his goal. His goal is to get the Republican Party to adopt his views. And with guys like Jim DeMint saying the Republican Party better listen to his views, Paul is riding a heck of a winning streak. Judging him on a straw poll he did not contest (at a convention he did not attend) is as stupid as judging Palin’s political reach on her ability to draw a crowd at CPAC. This is insta-nalysis and it’s crap. This is analysis designed to create a trend rather than expose a trend.

Anybody But Romney Tantruming. Finally, Politico along with several conservatives are attacking Romney over his statement that: “I was a severely conservative Republican governor.”

See, it turns out that no conservative would say this, just as no British secret agent would order red wine with fish. Said a shocked Rush: “I have never heard anybody say, ‘I’m severely conservative.’” Added the always-perfect Newt, “Some things are too funny to comment on.” Several others called for an “explanation.”

The meme behind this is that conservatives shouldn’t trust Romney because he “doesn’t speak the language” of conservatism. This is ridiculous. Splitting hairs over a poor choice of words is not reasoned analysis, it’s a prejudice desperately searching for validation.

But I guess they’re right. How can we trust a man who would say “I’m severely conservative” in an off-the-cuff comment. We should instead put our faith in genuine conservatives like Newt who says conservative things like calling deportation of illegals “heartless” and “inhuman,” who pimped global warming as “settled science,” who attacks “bad capitalism,” and who supported RomneyCare and TARP because everybody was doing it. Or we should support genuine conservatives like Ricky Santorum who supported the creation of new entitlements, gun control, higher taxes, higher spending, a healthcare mandate (i.e. RomneyCare), and illegal immigration, and who also disapproves of “bad capitalism.” Why? Because Rick’s a real conservative, and he would never misspeak, like he did about women in combat this weekend.

My point is this. Conservatives need to stop playing these games. Disagreeing over the importance of particular aspects of the candidate’s records is fine, trying to invent things to dislike is not. Stop parsing words and crowd size. Stop trying to turn mirages of molehills into mountains. Let’s use our brains, not our knee-jerks, and demand that conservative talkers start using theirs as well. . . assuming they have them.

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