No Masks Allowed
Dispatches from CPAC Day 1
It is day 2 of CPAC, despite the subheading, and I am sitting in the glorious Gatlin Ballroom at the Rosen Shingle Creek—a place that looks much less like a skin condition in person. It is an infinite 5-star hotel, a complex unto itself. When you catch your Lyft from the [REDACTED] a mile down International Drive, half the drive is getting from the complex gate to the actual building.
Armed security guards check your ID as you enter. Not an excessive number, but enough to be noteworthy. Security is tight. We do live in a society.
Right now, Michele Tafoya is talking to Matt Schlapp onstage about cancel culture and the right to be offensive and it seems like a good time to offer you a quick photographic recap of CPAC Day 1.
This is not a complete or in-depth analysis of the content of CPAC. That’s going in The New Republic, probably tomorrow. This is just for fun. Come with me into the registration line. But leave your mask behind.
One of the first things you’ll see at CPAC is Media Alley, where all the various sundry right-wing networks have set up booths to broadcast from. There are some real gems in here but by far my favorite is the brand new Lindell TV, which has a logo that…well…
It’s evocative. That’s all I’m saying. There’s a vibe. They’re sending a message of some kind.
No one is insane enough to give Mike Lindell a microphone on the CPAC main stage but he did address the crowd at CPAC Central last night during the welcome reception for about 20 minutes. I tried very, very hard to follow what he was saying but gave up pretty quickly. It had something to do with election fraud. It definitely pertained to the Freedom Convoy at one point. People seem to have affection for Mike Lindell but no one else seemed particularly concerned with what he was saying either.
What is CPAC Central, you ask? CPAC Central is the fever dream of a demented teenager from the 80s: a political shopping mall full of fascinating people. It’s me. I’m the demented teenager.
Here’s a shirt you can buy, which apparently means something very different from what I thought it meant.
I have never wanted to buy something I shouldn’t more in my entire life. It will be my glass slipper. I will wear it to lesbian bars across this country, and when I find her—the girl who laughs—by god we will get married that very evening.
This is a joke. Probably.
Anyway, no CPAC would be complete without various Trumps to pose next to:
Imagine my relief when I learned this was an anti-indoctrination zone.
Last year, the pain was too fresh for any hilarious Biden merchandice. This year, they’re making up for lost time. My personal favorite: the “Let’s Go Brandon” doormat:
Ice cream features prominently as well
And so I wandered from booth to booth and learned many things and enjoyed several glasses of wine, then exited to the hotel bar where many people spoke to me and none of them wanted to be quoted and one person threatened to sue me into the ground if I quoted him. That’s a direct quote. “I will sue you into the ground.” Tragically not as good as the thing I wanted to quote originally, but I work with what I have.
Mike Pompeo is about to speak, and so I will leave you there. Until next time