There is an old axiom in politics: You never want to be caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl. With slight poetic license, I wonder if that applied this past weekend.
CPAC held its big event in metro DC this past weekend and a lot of what would normally be headliners conveniently were absent. Matt Schlapp, who is the face of CPAC, has been recently accused of groping a male staffer on the Herschel Walker campaign. Keep in mind that this is occurring in the midst of a GOP attack on the LGBTQ+ community especially concentrated on drag shows and transgender medical treatment. Other than one individual in the act of shooting up a bar, I can’t think of anyone serious physically harmed by a drag queen and I don’t remember reading or hearing of attacks on the masses perpetrated by violent gangs comprised primarily of transgender individuals, but hey, I could have missed it.
For decades CPAC has been a place where Republican wannabes felt required to speak and attempt to recruit/placate the furthest right fringe of the GOP primary electorate because in a Republican primary you need a substantial portion of them in order to win.
There is another reason they may have skipped this time around and that is fear of Donald Trump who was the keynote speaker. This was not some protest. Trump appears to own the farthest right fringe of the GOP electorate. Were some or all of the no-shows motivated by not wanting to anger Trump? In some cases, was it a political calculation that they had little to gain (the attendees were so solidly for Trump) that it wasn’t worth attending?
My political calculating mind tells me it was a combination of the three in different proportions for each no-show of consequence. While I feel the 2024 Democratic contest is over – without ever having really starting – in that Joe Biden will run for reelection sans a credible challenger in the primary; the Republican field is still interesting and Trump is the 800 pound gorilla in the room but not a shoe in .
Just how much the old saw still applies we will find out somewhere down the road.
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