Was CPAC an Epic Fail?

This year I had the pleasure to be one of the official bloggers for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which is winding down as I write. But rather than writing an action report with a long "to-do" list for fellow conservatives, I feel like writing an obituary for the conservative movement would be more appropriate.

On the positive side of the ledger, this was a rare opportunity to meet many top conservative bloggers and put faces with the names. Without an exception, these are all wonderful, truly dedicated people. If there is hope for conservatives in the future -- an issue in doubt if CPAC really is representative of the movement -- the spirit that animates the conservative blogger community will be critical to helping emerge from the political wilderness.

That said, however, those of us inhabiting the official bloggers row, sponsored this year by Pajamas Media, are clearly considered the red-headed stepchildren by CPAC's organizers. The best evidence for this was that bloggers row was situated at the back corner of the exhibit hall (which doubles as the first floor of the hotel's parking garage). The organizers could not have positioned us any farther from the events here at CPAC without setting us up outside the building. In contrast to political left, where bloggers and new media have propelled Democrats to stunning victory and are courted by their politicians at the annual Daily Kos convention, the conservative establishment still has no idea what to do with new media.

This year's CPAC was the largest on record. It was encouraging to see the large herds of students moving throughout the hotel. Unfortunately, the constant theme those students heard during this year's CPAC was that the proper role of the conservative movement is as cheerleader for the GOP.

I must strongly dissent. Ever since George H.W. Bush violated his no new taxes pledge and announced the appointment of David Souter to the Supreme Court, the conservative movement has been the victim of nearly two decades of serial gang rape by the Republican Party and its leadership (George H.W. Bush, Trent Lott, Bob Dole, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert, George W. Bush, et al.).

Tying our fortunes to the Republican Party is the worst mistake that conservatives have made during the past half-century. Our salvation does not reside with the GOP, but by distancing ourselves from it. Many of this year's CPAC speakers are the very architects of our political exile. Rather than coming to us in sackcloth and ashes for their total failure of leadership, they came with red meat one-liners intended to distract the crowd.