On February 8th, I stated on Twitter that “CPAC isn’t worth anyone’s time. It’s nothing more than an anti-defense hatefest feat. libert.[arian] loons.”
That statement cost me a friend who was very friendly to me 15 minutes before I said this, and after I wrote that tweet, she started to hate me.
I sincerely apologized for it TWICE, but after learning a few days ago what I have learned from John Ziegler, I have discovered that I was right about CPAC after all.
Firstly, why did I state that in the first place? Because a paranoid, conspiracy-theory-peddling, extremely anti-defense group called the Committee for the Republic, led by Bruce Fein (himself an implacable enemy of a strong defense) was allowed to stage not one, not two, not three, but FOUR events at this year’s CPAC, including one at the very beginning of the conference, on its first day at 9AM. These events featured none other than Bruce Fein and his fellow Committee members James Henry and John Henry. These events were intended to mislead CPAC attendees (the vast majority of whom are young and therefore prone to disinformation and manipulation) that the US is a militaristic, aggressive, oppressive empire that invades other countries at whim, is occupying over 100 countries with hundreds of thousands of troops, is run by a military-industrial complex led by a cabal of defense industry execs making themselves richer, and spends $1 trillion or some other astronomical sum on the military per year. All of these claims are lies, yet this was the misinformation the Committee peddled to young conservative activists at this year’s CPAC. If it hadn’t been for the pro-defense analysts and figures who attended CPAC as well, and for three young pro-defense Republican politicians who delivered landmark speeches there (Rubio, Ryan, and Palin), CPAC’12 would’ve turned into the same nasty anti-defense hatefest as last year’s CPAC.
I wondered why was this anti-defense, anti-conservative group (which chastises conservatives on its website for refusing to believe that defense is a Big Government program, which it isn’t) allowed to stage any event at CPAC at all, let alone four. I wonder who or what caused it to be allowed to do so.
Thanks to John Ziegler, who opened my eyes and provided me with first-hand knowledge of the subject, I now know the answer.
Ziegler was a cosponsor of CPAC’09, where he staged an event promoting his film, Media Malpractice. As such, he was invovled in the planning of the conference and has first-hand knowledge about who and why gets allowed to stage events at CPAC. Says Ziegler:
“The most significant truth people need to understand about CPAC is that, like far too many entities in the conservative realm, it is business pretending to be promoting a cause. (…) Mike Huckabee has described CPAC as a “pay for play” organization and he is absolutely correct, except he understates the inherently corrupt nature of the event.
When I was a co-sponsor I sat in all of the planning meetings to determine who would speak when and about what topics. At the time (not yet having gone through the maelstrom that would be the effort to promote Media Malpractice), I was remarkably naïve. I actually thought that speakers were chosen based on their credibility, loyalty to the movement, accomplishments and ability to give a good speech. I might as well have thought that the contestants in Trump’s Miss Universe pageant are selected purely based on their SAT scores.
Instead, it was extremely clear that speakers were chosen based only on who could do the most for CPAC/ACU as an organization. The hierarchy of qualities to qualify one for a prime speaking slot seemed to be, in reverse order of importance: friendship with the organizers, sponsorship of the event, and the ability to create positive publicity for the conference.
So, in reality, it isn’t really “pay for play,” but something which is even worse. One’s celebrity within the movement or ability to get coverage for the conference, as well as one’s personal relationships with the ACU, are what really rule how the conference operates. If it was purely based on “pay for play,” at least then everyone would at least know what the rules are, but this is not the case.”
So in order to get to speak, or stage events, at CPAC, it doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative or if you are devoted to the conservative cause. Nor does it matter if you have done anything to further it (the Committee has done nothing; in fact, it is harming it). All that matters is ability to get publicity for the conference, donations, and friendship with the organizers. And how did the Committee for the Republic get to stage FOUR events at CPAC?
I didn’t see any coverage of their events, or of the group itself, in the media at the time of the conference, although admittedly, I didn’t look hard for it, so maybe there was some. So the only possibilities are that the Committee made a huge donation to the ACU (which hosts the annual CPAC) or is friends with ACU leaders, or both.
David Keene, who, until last year, was ACU’s chairman, does indeed have ties to the Committee: he has signed its anti-defense petitions and may be a member (or even a leader) of it. He is also known to be a member of some of Ron Paul’s libertarian groups, a supporter of Paul’s loony national-security policies, and a guy who is calling on Republicans to accept Ron Paul supporters within the GOP’s ranks.
But that, by itself, could not have been enough to get the C4TR permission to stage FOUR events at CPAC, when most groups are allowed to stage only one.
So the only possible explanation is that, while Keene’s ties to the Committee may have helped, the Committee made a huge donation to the ACU prior to this year’s CPAC, and THAT is why it was allowed to stage FOUR anti-defense events at the conference, conservatism and Reagan’s three-legged stool be damned. As Ziegler has made clear, ACU leaders (who organize the annual CPAC) care only about money and publicity, and couldn’t care less about conservatism or defense. Money is more important to them (and to the leaders of most other “conservative” groups) than anything else. So why would they refuse a huge donation to defend conservatism and their own credibility? Besides, the Committee is trying to redefine conservatism into something it never was, into a pacifist, anti-defense, fiscally-conservative-only ideology. So what would’ve been the problem for them?
And the Committee is hardly the only example. Why else were liberals Joe Scarborough and Jerome Corsi allowed to speak at a CPAC, and GOProud (a gay, liberal group) allowed to sponsor last year’s conference? Why was Donald Trump allowed to speak last year? Why has Grover Norquist successfully kept jihad-exposing, anti-Sharia events out of the schedule for many years? Why has he managed to prevent many anti-Sharia experts from being invited to speak? Because for most people, money speaks louder than principles, ideology, and integrity.
In short, this is what likely happened: the Committee gave the ACU a huge donation and in return for that donation, it was allowed to stage FOUR anti-defense events at CPAC, thus managing to mislead and misinform (i.e. brainwash) tens of thousands of young conservative activists prone to disinformation, manipulation, and false prophets.
In other words, John Ziegler is right: CPAC is a fraud. I sincerely hopes he succeeds in informing conservative activists about that.