Mittens, Palin, and Big Gulps: On CPAC 2013

So, as anyone following the Right-wing’s activity knows, this past weekend was the Conservative Political Action Conference, a.k.a., CPAC 2013.


“The conservatives are coming!”

Are you obsessed with the crazy conservatives? Because I kind of am. They’re pretty fascinating, am I right?

I mean, when you keep tabs on the Republicans, you get crazy entertaining little tidbits like this:

Femmolitical Blog 3.18.13

Michelle Malkin’s not a happy camper.

And this:

Tea Party costumes

Silly white people wearing costumes and expecting to be taken seriously. a.k.a Tea Partiers. Awesome.

So naturally, CPAC 2013 was on step to create an interesting mash-up of news coverage this weekend. Especially considering the massive losses the Right-wing has been hit with recently–losing the 2012 election, turning their proverbial backs on the Tea Party, and relegating women to binders–this year’s conservative conference had a serious question to answer. Where do we go from here?

There were a few possible answers to this deep, existential question. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida was relatively vague and soft-around-the-edges, offering a less deportation-happy flavor of immigration reform while still, essentially, calling for more and higher fences.

"The idea is called America, and it still works."

“The idea is called America, and it still works.” – Marco Rubio

And then there was Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who won the (somewhat meaningless) CPAC straw poll, and argued that the answer was fresh blood. “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered,” he lamented, urging his fellow conservatives to welcome younger, more energetic minds into the fold.

"Ask the Facebook generation." - Rand Paul

“Ask the Facebook generation.” – Rand Paul

And then there was good old Mittens, who made an appearance despite his unpopularity after flip-flopping his way to President Obama’s second term. His presence was met with lukewarm approval, as conservatives roundly agreed that, although he’s a massive failure and too moderate and they all can’t fucking stand him, he was still “one of us.” Aawww, shucks, Mittens. Don’t feel too badly about yourself. You might be the “worst Republican in the country,” but you can still hang out with the cool kids.


“Please allow me to still be relevant.”

But despite all of these suggestions for the future of American conservatism, the real show stopper was Sarah Palin. After losing the Vice Presidential bid in 2008 and subsequently being run out of the Alaskan Governor’s Mansion, Sarah Palin’s career has dwindled down to two best-selling memoirs and a short-lived reality TV show. She’s remained a Tea Party darling and a regular on its lecture circuit since 2009, but politically, she’ll probably never earn another vote.

Still, the conservatives absolutely fucking love her. Her speech was a hit, largely because she arrived on stage holding a 7/11 Big Gulp and poked fun at Mayor Bloomberg‘s recent attempt to ban the supersized, sugary drink.


“Bloomberg is not around, our Big Gulps are safe. We’re cool.” – Sarah Palin

And let’s not forget about Michele Bachmann, who’s long been dubbed the Tea Party queen. She apparently saved day three of the conference with a weird speech about the Right-wing’s identity as a movement of “care and compassion.” Tell that to the folks at Planned Parenthood, Madame the Queen.

Leading Conservatives Attend 40th Annual CPAC

“Welcome to Washington, the epicenter of care and compassion.” Huh?

So what are we supposed to make of all this conservative brouhaha? That the Republicans are having an identity crisis? That conservative power in the U.S. is waning? That maybe the GOP’s infuriating “War on Women” is starting to fizzle out?

Not quite.

While conservative men vie for the Republican nomination in 2016, they’re ultimately lackluster, boring, irritating, out of touch. They’re flip-flopping like Mittens to grab moderate voters, they’re making vague, unhelpful claims about asking “the Facebook generation.” (Thanks for the shout-out, Rand Paul!) But they aren’t getting standing ovations.

Who is?

palin and bachmann

“We throw down so much harder than Mittens.”

These ladies.

While the GOP is largely considered to be on the decline, lacking support from younger voters and people of color, women like Palin and Bachmann are giving speeches like they’re fucking rockstars. Dismissed by many in the media as idiotic, bat-shit crazy dupes (unless you watch Fox News–but I hope you don’t), conservative women are wildly underestimated by politically aware folks on the left side of the aisle. We laugh them off as harmless, weird exceptions to the “all women are liberal feminists” rule. Meanwhile, they’re virtually the only conservatives that can inspire their fellow politicos to jump to their feet in excitement these days.

"Damn these people love me."

“Damn these people love me.”

So what have we learned from CPAC 2013? That conservative women are still the GOP’s shining stars, even if sexist, gender hierarchies make it unlikely that any of them will capture a presidential nomination in 2016? Yes. That conservative women still pose a serious threat to feminism? Absolutely, although I’ll write more on that later.

But the most important lesson we learned from CPAC this year?

That restrictions on Big Gulps pose a greater threat to personal freedom…

Big gulp freedom

“Damn soda tyrants!”

…than restrictions on abortion.


“Restricting access to safe and quality health care for women? No, that’s not an infringement on personal freedoms at all.”


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