Sarah Palin: CPAC's Favorite Loser
She was a disaster on a national ticket, abandoned her state office halfway through her term and bombed on Fox News, the network of such intellectual giants as Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson. But here at Conservative Political Action Conference, Sarah Palin reigns supreme.
Onto the CPAC stage -- populated for days by people in suits -- the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate strode, dressed in body-con blue jeans and carrying a 7-11 Big Gulp soda, which she would use as a prop while taking a swipe at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. (This week, a state court struck down Bloomberg's ban on super-sized soft drink cups.)
Tossing the crowd all the red-meat right-wing themes, Palin went heavy against gun control, especially the call for universal background checks for gun purchases, a call that has gained momentum in response to the massacre in a Connecticut elementary school last December.
"And background checks?" she asked. "Yeah, to learn more about a person's thinking, associations and intentions? Background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. We should've started with yours."
The crowd rose to its feet with a roar, the whistle to the birther crowd heard loud and clear.
"Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration ever," Palin said. "Barack Obama, you lied!"
The Joe Wilson fans in the audience appreciated that one.
She also compared the president to convicted felon Bernie Madoff.
Post-Massacre Christmas Presents
Palin spoke of the "run on guns and ammo" "for Christmas presents" this year without ever mentioning the killing of 20 children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre on December 14 -- the event that precipitated the panic of assault-rifle enthusiasts who acted in anticipation of a ban on military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines of the sort the killer used.
In fact, Palin herself had a gun-themed Noel. Or a sexy-sexy Yuletide, depending on how one read her innuendo.
“You should have seen what Todd got me for Christmas," Palin said. "It was a metal rack, case for hunting rifles to put on the back of a four-wheeler. Then, though, I had to get something for him to put in the gun case, right? So, this go-round, he’s got the rifle; I got the rack.” (Happy birthday, Baby Jesus!)
In the end, CPAC attendees were extraordinarily kind to the Republican Party's big national losers -- at least those who won invitations (John McCain apparently did not) -- giving a Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential candidate, a prime speaking spot, and granting the less-than-loved presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, a polite reception.
But compared to the wild enthusiasm the audience shown for Palin, that was nothing.
The Right's New King-Maker?
It was not for nothing, however, that Palin was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the right's latest firebrand in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.) In his introduction, Cruz rattled off the names of successful politicians who won Palin's endorsement: Sen. Pat Toomey, Penn.; Marco Rubio, Fla., and, of course, Cruz himself.
And Palin herself took her opportunity at the podium to bash the pooh-bahs who spent big bucks in campaigns for losing candidates, setting herself up as something as an alternative. "It's time to furlough the consultants," she said, indirectly taking aim at Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads superPAC won investors wins in less than 2 percent of the races in which it spent some $183 million. (That doesn't include the millions that American Crossroads' sibling organization, Crossroads GPS, threw in.)
To finish the job after Palin left the stage, Phyllis Schlafly took her turn at the podium, thanking Palin for warming up the crowd for her (as half the crowd wandered toward the exits). Schlafly, still organizing at the age of 89, had no compunction about naming names: Karl Rove, she said, spent $400 million on losers, most of it on television ads -- the placement of which yield big bucks for those who place them -- and virtually nothing on efforts to get out the vote, she said. Complaining that the GOP "establishment gave us another losing candidate," she urged the young people in the audience to run for office (Palin did, too) and "take over" the Republican Party because, she said, "a third party isn't going to cut it."
"We did it before," Schlafly said, "in 1980."
Rand Paul, winner of the CPAC presidential straw poll, was no doubt taking notes.