CPAC: Will the spaghetti stick to the wall?
The annual CPAC conference is being held this weekend in Orlando, Florida.
This year looks different with the vacuum created by the November election and the fallout that ensued. It seems likely that conservatives will throw handfuls of test messages at the wall to see what sticks. It's fodder for legacy media outlets as they fire up their pre-conference spin to undermine any momentum the conference may generate.
Last Sunday, CNN focused on former vice president Mike Pence declining to attend the conference. On Tuesday, CNN followed that up with a report claiming that Pence spoke highly of President Trump and their close relationship. The two articles, written a mere forty-eight hours apart, offer contrasting narratives. That network, true to form, is grasping for any stories to stick in the era of post-Trump news cycles.
For the record, Pence's latest statement reeks of an overt attempt to be welcomed back into the fold. The timing of his announcement just days before the CPAC conference screams of waning relevance. Perhaps the vice president is following mainstream media outlets' model to try as many messages as it takes to gain clicks, likes, or viewers.
Throwing too many ideas at the wall is a page right out of the leftist playbook. Conservatives are logical thinkers. They see through this and will continue to splinter into factions because the spaghetti won't stick.
One story expected to dominate the conference is the passing of icon Rush Limbaugh.
Rush deserves all the recognition he will receive. It's not unreasonable to presume that every speaker will offer words of thanks for the legacy Limbaugh left. On its face, it's what speakers do when reflecting on the passing of an irreplaceable public figure. At the same time, it will be used by MAGA-supporters and Establishment types alike. In that way, both camps in the Republican Party will use the man's effigy to further their attempted takeover of the party.
Setting aside the one unifying theme CPAC will provide, a review of the conference agenda shows expected talking points for traditional values. While this is standard fare for conservative positions and policies, there is an air of uncertainty surrounding the conference. It stems from a lack of focused messaging and no singular leader to rally around. Sure, former president Trump is the de facto leader of the MAGA movement, though he sits in social media exile. There are up-and-coming personalities, like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, and a handful of House or Senate members offering public addresses on various topics covering the panacea of individual rights to the dismantling policies promulgated by the left. The wide range of issues shrieks focus-group polling for conservatives to hit the ground running as the GOP looks to take back control of Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
President Trump will deliver the final address on Sunday. It's either a show of solidarity between both halves of the Republican Party or an olive branch to angered MAGA-supporters still stinging from the surreal events that began sometime in the middle of the night on November 3 and are still unfolding. It will probably be the most watched segment of the conference.
Will Trump's words carry the conference or be drowned out by the mixed messaging?
Breakout sessions and panels include themes around tolerance, angry mobs, election integrity, Big Tech, and socialism at our doorstep. Other subjects will be covered, too. Yes, each of these issues is near to conservative hearts. Still, the smorgasbord of topics appears to be nothing more than a focus-group rebranding of the national platform for the Republican Party.
It's remarkable to have national conferences where the brightest and most influential voices build consensus on issues affecting all Americans. It seems unlikely that so many topics will deliver on the desired unity the GOP seeks. The smarter play offers three or four themes that speak to conservative values, offering easy consumption and targeted messaging going into the election cycle of 2022.
Conservatives don't need a cafeteria of ideas to choose from. It's best to prepare a more straightforward meal that will leave everyone wanting more. A well cooked dish of spaghetti is hard to beat.