Ringside Seat: D.C.'s Hottest Club Is...

If you wear fanny packs unironically or think "Free Bird" should be America's national anthem, Stefon's got just the spot for you. D.C.'s hottest club is CPAC. The Republicans who bleed the reddest are back for four days only to answer the question, "Are we doing this rebranding thing wrong?" with a resounding "Huh?!" This "Woodstock for Conservatives" has everything: real Sarah Palinfake Sarah Palin, a dark corner where people wearing Wal-Mart chic go to hide, dads quoting rap music, that thing where old white men dress up like zombies and do the robot, and look who just walked in! It's method actor Mitt Romney! He's pretended to be Republican presidential material for years longer than Daniel Day-Lewis, but with no shiny prizes at the end of his run. Rumor is it's starting to infect his brain ... oh no, there he goes chasing the bartender again!

That's not the party advice you we're looking for? Hmm, well then, D.C.'s hottest club is ... nope, that's all we've got. The Conservative Political Action Conference, which kicks off on Thursday, is not exactly full of surprises—even in a post-election year when might expect right wingers to be asking themselves some hard questions. If you thought CPACers might get serious about rebranding after the public gave them some advice last November by not voting them, you'd be wrong. Instead, they've decided to alienate one of the most popular members of their party, Chris Christie; give the cold shoulder to red state LGBT groups; call conservative leaders in their party raging liberals; and recede farther and farther from the median opinions of your average conservative into the corners where only the most obsessive Fox News viewers congregate. 

And so they will talk about Benghazi and Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley and other old news. The panels will range from "Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?" to "Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?" and other endless sessions asking questions that aren't exactly the ones the right needs to answer. It's not too different from the party CPAC threw last year—except they aren't even bothering to woo young'uns by helping young'uns woo this time around! There's a clear solution to the Republicans' recruiting problems, of course—massaging not its messaging, but its message. It's a simple and elegant solution, but not one the party is quite ready to embrace. Until that day, CPAC will continue to be an exclusive club worthy of an SNL skit.


So They Say

“That lefties are accusing the new pope of handing over lefties to the right wing junta for execution makes me adore the new pope.”

tweet from Erick Erickson of RedState


Daily Meme: The Return of the Ryan Budget

  • So Paul Ryan released the House Republicans' budget blueprint. It's basically the same as the last Paul Ryan budget.
  • You know, that one that went over so well when he was running for vice president.
  • Even Ross Douthat is like, eww
  • Ryan Lizza, on the other hand, says we should appreciate the budget as a return to relative normalcy as far as Republican doctrine goes.
  • Other conservative media outlets though, are all, whatever, way to stick to your guns, Paul!
  • Jennifer Rubin calls most of the criticisms against the budget "downright wrong."
  • The National Review uses a classic diversionary tactic: touting the virtues of the Ryan budget by hey wait look at that crazy Patty Murray budget!
  • All right then, let's do look at the Senate Democrats' budget. First off, it features far less radical spending cuts, as well as some tax increases and stimulus to balance things out. The Democrats' budget also does not start with the assumption that we have a pressing debt crisis.
  • It also does not seek to balance the budget. All in all, it's a pretty conservative budget, far more conservative than Paul Ryan's, if we're talking in preserve-the-status-quo terms rather than mislabeled ideologies. 
  • Matt Yglesias calls the Dems' version boring, while calling Ryan's "frighteningly ambitious."
  • But there are some similarities. Both have spending cuts (if of a different scale), both repeal the sequester, and both protect social security.
  • President Obama has been on a peace mission to the Hill to try and act on these similarities with the House GOP, and even Ryan sounds "cautiously optimistic"about the chances of everyone getting along and making a budget where everyone is only moderately miffed—i.e., democracy. Hmm. We'll see. 

What We're Writing

  • Jaclyn Friedman looks at what the Steubenville rape case has to say about American masculinity.
  • Sujatha Fernandes profiles an immigrant delivery worker, the first part in a series about the immigration experience in America.

What We're Reading

  • NPR reports on the especially hard life that faces the elderly homeless.
  • Kevin Roose tries to call the "Occupy Sugar" movement to arms. 
  • Mark Leibovich profiles Ted Kennedy Jr., who's refreshingly naive and authentic, as well as dead set on entering the family business.
  • Soda bottlers have an unlikely ally in the fight against New York City's soda ban: minority groups.
  • Lacking the fear and check-writing that a close election inspires, Team Obama ishaving trouble getting donors excited about Organizing for Action.
  • Two Awl bloggers are reading all the presidents' biographies. Here's the John Adams installment.

Poll of the Day

There's a new pope today ... but there are way fewer American Catholics to get stirred up about it. A new Pew Research poll shows that 27 percent of Catholics stateside consider themselves "strong" followers of the Church—a four-decade low. Protestants, on the other hand, have been on the rise; 54 percent say their religious identification is "strong."

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