After back-to-back drubbings in presidential elections, the Grand Old Party is deep in contemplation — navel-gazing, really — over what went wrong and, more, what to do about what went wrong.
So, Republicans and conservatives gathered last week at the posh National Harbor across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., for a powwow. Just a glance at the event’s daily agenda showed how far the GOP has fallen, and how lost the once-proud party now is.
Hours into the smoke-free conclave, a gaggle of House lawmakers presided over a soul-searching group discussion: “Expanding the Conservative Movement with the Hispanic Community,” then “Lessons They Have Learned and We Haven’t.”
The mob then turned passive-aggressive with a seminar titled, “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” (perhaps aimed at The Architect Karl Rove and his sad display on election night after Fox News called the race — “I think this is premature!”).
By day’s end, the plebs puzzled and puzzled till their puzzlers were sore in a roundtable on “The Future of the Movement: Winning With Generation X/Y.”
Day Two was even more pathetic, kicking off as it did with Democratic plant Donald Trump, who delivered a rambling speech with the bumbling line: “We’re run by either very foolish or very stupid people.” (Donald, they mean the same thing, but somehow, you’re both.)
Seeking that young vote (meaning 67 to 98 years old), the blind leading the blind followed with “CSI Washington: November 2012 Autopsy” — TV Mature, for gore and weeping of grown men. Rick Santorum, who has lost so many times no one can keep count, dropped by to deride Democrats and their allies in Hollywood, who he said “promote a culture of titillation and violence that numbs our senses.” It’s Hollywood’s fault!
Multiple loser Mitt Romney also popped ‘round to apologize for getting crushed, delivering a lackluster speech that reminded everyone why he got crushed. But he did strike one nail right on the head: “As someone who just lost the last election, I’m probably not the person to chart the course for the next one.” Ya’ think? See you again, never.
The gathered conservatives then enjoyed more no-names holding court in a discussion titled: “The Pro-Life Fight: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade” (pencil this in for CPAC 2073: “100 Years After Roe v. Wade”). After another Hollywood-bashing session, the geriatrics drew from that cool new movie everyone’s talking about: “Back to the Future: High Tech — High Touch — Cool Tools.” Tea partyers wandered onto the stage, as did old-guard bloviator Newt Gingrich (mainly there to plug his new book, “The Krispy Kreme Diet: Living on 5,000 Calories a Day”).
Old-school Auntie Sarah Palin showed up to make some double- entendres. On her exchange of Christmas gifts with husband, Todd: “He got the rifle, I got the rack.” Oh, and she also said President Obama needed a background check while calling him “a liar.” You know, lofty and dignified stuff. She even mocked the president’s use of a teleprompter — while reading from a teleprompter.
But when you stepped back from the whole embarrassing circus, the event broke down into two neat groups: the rambling old guard trying to hang onto power while selling their losing ideas, and the new guard looking to transform the Republican Party (which means simply bringing it into the 21st century).
Sarahccuda lectured the throng: “We’re not here to rebrand a party. We’re here to rebuild a country.” (Wait, in folksy talk: “We’re not here to put a fresh coat of rhetorical paint on our party.” The corpulent Newt, like The Donald declaring the GOP is “mired in stupidity,” said much the same: “We don’t need new principles … we do need new ideas.”
Newcomer Marco Rubio made clear why he’ll run in 2016 as the same ol’ same ol’ establishment candidate, contradicting The Dough Man with: “We don’t need a new idea. There is an idea. The idea is called America, and it still works.”
Ah, the old guard telling the new guard why they’re still in charge.
Yet there were a few exciting young bucks who flashed their antlers, even rutted a bit on the old timbers of the GOP. Sen. Ted Cruz, sworn in just 10 weeks ago but already leaping to the top of the pack — picked as the keynote speaker for the gabfest — took aim at the former House speaker. Mocking the “sequester,” which cut just 2 cents of every federal dollar spent, he said he “will always be haunted by the sight of Newt Gingrich’s emaciated face.”
But Sen. Rand Paul owned the day, even winning The Washington Times straw poll vote — the first for 2016. And his message was something different altogether: “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?” he said to cheers from the surprisingly young crowd.
No names necessary. We know who the losers are. The question remains: Can any of these young bucks actually win?
⦁ Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @josephcurl.