I should have gone away these few days of the CPAC conference in a deep sea diving bell. CPAC has been a disappointing spectacle to watch from afar, in more than one way.
I can’t tell you what it’s done for others, but for me it’s been a real downer, notwithstanding a few good speeches. I didn’t feel this way last year; maybe I have a lower tolerance level now for watching the D.C. prima donnas in action.
Anne’s on the scene, so I’ll be interested to get her take, but to me it looks like mostly the same clique of DC establishment people feting themselves for being in the club.
For now, I’ll give you Pat Caddell, via Michael Patrick Leahy, Caddell Unloads on ‘Racketeering’ GOP Consultants:
“I blame the donors who allow themselves to be played for marks. I blame the people in the grassroots for allowing themselves to be played for suckers….It’s time to stop being marks. It’s time to stop being suckers. It’s time for you people to get real,” he told the audience that included two top Republican consultants.
Caddell stole the show as a panelist in the breakout session titled “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” He spoke with a fire and passion that electrified the room. When the session began the large room was half filled, but as word spread of the fireworks going on inside, the audience streamed in. By the end, it was standing room only….
“When you have the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee and the political director of the Romney campaign, and their two companies get $150 million at the end of the campaign for the ‘fantastic’ get-out-the-vote program…some of this borders on RICO [the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations,” Caddell told the crowd. ”It’s all self dealing going on. I think it works on the RICO thing. They’re in the business of lining their pockets.”
“The Republican Party,” Caddell continued, “is in the grips of what I call the CLEC–the consultant, lobbyist, and establishment complex.” Caddell described CLEC as a self serving interconnected network of individuals and organizations interested in preserving their own power far more than they’re interested in winning elections….
Caddell predicted that the Republican Party, unless it became the anti-establishment, anti-Washington party, would become extinct, like the 19th century Whig Party. “These people [in the consulting-lobbying-establishment complex] are doing business for themselves. They are a part of the Washington establishment. These people don’t want to have change.”
The 2010 takeover of Congress by the Republicans, Caddell said, “was not engineered by the Washington Republican establishment. They [the establishment] then took that victory and threw it away.”