It’s so much work to get there, and it’s expensive. If it’s also going to be like visiting a registry of motor vehicles, it’s just not worth it to me.
(Pictured – Journalist and blogger, Robert Stacy McCain, and me, kicking back.)
This year I decided to go back to CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Coalition) conference at National Harbor, just outside of DC for the first time since 2015. I had a good time, but things didn’t really work out as planned, and I will not be going back.
Weeks before the conference, I registered on CPAC’s website to attend as media and cover the event for Legal Insurrection, just as I had done in 2013, 2014, and 2015. When I didn’t hear anything back, I called the CPAC office. The young woman I spoke to did not have any information for me, but did not indicate that anything was wrong or that I should not attend.
When I called the Gaylord International Hotel to book a room, I was told that there were no more rooms at the special rate for CPAC attendees. This should have been a red flag, but I booked a room at a very nice hotel only a block away from the conference.
I also decided to change things up by taking the Acela train instead of flying. As far as the trip down to DC is concerned, that choice worked out well. The train was on time on Wednesday morning at 6 AM at South Station in Boston, and we cruised down to DC in just 6.5 hours.
Once I was settled into my hotel, I went to CPAC and found the media registration desk. I was asked for my QR code, something I had not received, in my regular mail or my SPAM folder. I was told to come back in an hour. I went back to my room, checked email, got a coffee and went back about two hours later. Again, I was told I was not in the system. Best to check back again later.
At this point, it was the evening. I called my old buddy Stacy McCain of The Other McCain, because I knew he would be there. I walked back over to the convention hotel and met Stacy. He wanted to go to the media registration desk to pick up his credentials. I walked over with him and he was fine, they gave him his badge, but I was still not in the system. I was told to return after 7 AM the next day.
The next morning, I returned to media registration at 8 AM. Still no luck. The young woman at the desk, who by now knew my face but not my name, explained that I was still not in the system. I was starting to get frustrated and explained that I had traveled from Boston to be there. I hadn’t even raised my voice, but the woman at the desk suggested that I visit the Resolutions Desk, then passive aggressively suggested that she could have security escort me there if I wanted. Like, what am I? Antifa?
To be absolutely clear, I never had a ‘Do you know who I am?’ moment, I never even got visibly upset, but I do write for three fairly influential conservative sites. Legal Insurrection, The Gateway Pundit, and Twitchy. Shouldn’t CPAC want someone like me to be there?
I went to the Resolutions Desk and waited in line for a half an hour to speak to someone, only to be told once again, that there was no explanantion for my situation or any solution. She told me I needed to speak to the woman at the end of the desk, who was management, but that she was away for a few minutes. I went to the end of the desk and stood waiting for another 30 minutes.
When the manager finally appeared, I explained the situation to her. She then spent a few minutes searching through her laptop. Then she declared that she would need to call the media office, which she did. After a few minutes on the phone, she explained to me that the conference had over-booked media people, and that I would not be getting media credentials, but that they would be happy to sell me a ticket if I wanted to go to the conference as an attendee. Tickets are over $300.
At that point, I gave up. I was now on vacation in National Harbor. I actually felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off of me. No more explaining, questioning, or waiting in lines. I was also stunned to suddenly think that Amtrak seemed more organized than CPAC.
I spent the next two days doing fun things. I crossed the river and walked around in Old Town, Alexandria, where I got a much needed haircut at a very cool barber shop.
Old Town has a very Boston feel to it.
I also had a great time at the Irish Whisper pub in National Harbor.
Spending a lot of time here. My unimpressive super power is the ability to quickly locate an Irish pub wherever I go. pic.twitter.com/gfIpdNPewU
— Mike LaChance (@MikeLaChance33) March 2, 2023
On Thursday night, I went out for drinks with Stacy McCain, where I also got to meet Mark Mitchell of Rasmussen Reports, a very nice fellow.
Jeff Reynolds of PJ Media, formerly of Legal Insurrection, was also there. A great guy all around. Funny and smart.
I also had a chance to meet Stacey Lennox and Gwendolyn Sims of PJ Media. These ladies were a riot.
I had some fun on Twitter, too.
The view from my hotel room where I am not covering CPAC. pic.twitter.com/HLtc0tTXlX
— Mike LaChance (@MikeLaChance33) March 3, 2023
In a very funny piece over at The Other McCain, Stacy wrote about my troubles and advised me not to go too scorched earth in my write up of the event, and I’m not. I’m just telling you exactly what happened. Stacey Lennox also has a great essay over at PJ Media about how CPAC has changed over the years.
In an all too perfect ending to this comedy of errors, my Acela train back to Boston was beset with electrical issues and was forced to stop for over an hour and then travel at low speed for an hour. As a result, it took nine hours for the train to make it to Boston. I was on the train from 11 AM to 8 PM. I could have flown back and forth from Boston to DC twice in the time I was on the train.
I won’t be going back. It’s so much work to get there, and it’s expensive. If it’s also going to be like visiting a registry of motor vehicles, it’s just not worth it to me.
The best part? I got to pick up my little buddy Finn at the vet on Sunday morning and bring him home. He stayed with their surprisingly affordable boarding service while I was gone.
On a final note: When I walked away from the CPAC Resolution Desk on my way out of the convention hall on Thursday, I walked past Dave Weigel, formerly of the Washington Post, now writing for Semafor, another liberal outlet created by Ben Smith of BuzzFeed fame. He had a press pass around his neck.
This is who they want covering their event, I wondered to myself?
Good luck with that, CPAC.DONATE
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