Friday morning, I woke at 4:00 a.m. from a slumber peppered with strange, anxiety-fueled dreams. I don’t know if it’s the CPAC or just the—no, nevermind. It’s definitely the CPAC. Even deep in REM sleep, my brain knew I had to go back for round two.
I returned to the Potomac ballroom just as Glenn Beck was about to speak. I’m old enough to remember when Glenn Beck employed Tomi Lahren. Glenn has one of those amazing speaking voices that booms across the stage and it was booming about the unofficial theme of CPAC 2019: the dangers and evils of socialism since the “evils of socialism” is the unofficial theme of CPAC 2019. You may recall that this line—America First versus socialism—has already been established as President Trump’s main theme for the 2020 election. So I can’t really fault the conservatives here. They’re just staying on-brand.
After Beck it went to the (other) future of the Republican party, Candace Owens. Say what you want about her grasp of history, but Owens is actually a really compelling speaker. And because she’s from Trumpworld she also sells merch with the “Blexit” logo on it.
The idea of Blexit is that African-American voters are about to leave the Democratic party in droves because, Trump. This seems . . . unlikely? If you take Trump’s net approval rating—which is right now only -9 (that’s very, very good for him) and slice and dice it across a whole bunch of cohorts, you see that among African-Americans he is a staggering -64.7.
I want to take a minute and put that into some perspective for you. Pick a group of people that you think are really, super-duper anti-Trump. Maybe people who live in cities? They’re a net -29. Okay, maybe people with post-graduate degrees? They’re -30. There is literally no other measurable demographic group that thinks as negatively about Trump as African-Americans.
But wait—there’s more! The best part is that Trump’s approval rating among African-Americans is actually dropping. In January of 2017 he was “only” -47. Since then he’s dropped by another third. Which means that since Candace Owens started selling Blexit gear, African-American voters actually became even more anti-Trump than they already were.
I mean, if you believe the polls. Candace Owens has another theory about what’s going on, as Caleb Ecarma explained in Mediaite: “Owens also gave a historically-questionable account of how Democrats have won over black voters —à la, Dinesh D’Souza—and it all has to do with the entertainment industry.” And the entertainment industry is no match for the powers of Trump. Obviously.
In the programming break after a Devin Nunes cameo—he’s got to be worried about Matt Gaetz taking his place in TrumpWorld, right?—we’ve got some commercials. There were ads for the Heritage Foundation, which were strangely hypnotic commercials and made Heritage sound like a mobile carrier, or a logistics company. And Judicial Watch played promos featuring Hillary Clinton’s emails. I was . . . surprised? . . . that the CPAC crowd still cared about Clinton’s emails. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. When Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton—who has the most enormous biceps I’ve ever seen in my life—came on stage to talk, he promised that there was going to be “more accountability for Hillary Clinton.”
It made me wonder how long conservatives will take comfort in dreams of locking her up. I’ll set the over-under at November 2028.
The crowd got a Very Special Appearance by Vice President Mike Pence who stayed on message: “It was a freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars and stands today as the beacon of hope for all the world.”
In truth, there wasn’t a ton of excitement on Friday, unless you count Senator Josh Hawley getting served with a subpoena as he left the stage or Laura Loomer.
You’ve probably heard of Laura Loomer. She likes to confront people on video and occasionally handcuff herself to the front doors of tech company offices. She’s a perfectly normal, rational person. At CPAC she was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of herself on it while she confronted other credentialed media members. (Loomer also had CPAC press creds.) When asked what she was up to by Washingtonian, she explained, “I was ‘Loomering’ Oliver Darcy.”
Part of what makes Loomer so animated is that she claims that she has been “deplatformed” because of her beliefs not only by Twitter, but by Uber and Lyft. As I said: Perfectly normal and well-adjusted and exactly the sort of spokeswoman conservatism should want.