The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off today.
The annual event is a chance for the elite of the Republican Party and
the conservative media sphere to rub shoulders, organize, and speechify.
But with the grassroots conservative Tea Party movement gaining steam
nationally, it's unclear who will dominate the event. The Tea Party
movement has been at odds with the GOP establishment, and tends to be
deeply mistrustful of any elite figures. Will the movement and the
leadership clash, or will Republicans finally make the Tea Party a force
of their own?
- 'Learning To Manage The Fringe' The Washington Independent's David Weigel reports
that Republican officials are struggling with the Tea Party's nuttier
elements. "Conservatives have become aware that fringe issues can trip
them up," he writes. "At the same time, CPAC has accepted the
sponsorship of the John Birch Society -- a far-right group famously
exiled from the conservative movement by William F. Buckley. And some
figures in the 'birther' movement will be making appearances at the
- Tea Party Splits Forebode Conflict Talking Points Memo's Christina Bellantoni writes,
"Republicans across the country have been trying to harness the tea
party energy for their own races as anti-establishment sentiment sweeps
the nation in the leadup to the midterm elections." But even the Tea
Party movement is deeply fissured, with some believing the movement to
be anti-GOP, but others supporting Republican candidates. If the Tea
Partiers can't even come together with each other, it's difficult to
see them joining the entire Republican Party.
- CPAC Moving Right, But It's Risky The Guardian's Jeremy Lott evaluates
attempts to court the Tea Partiers. "CPAC has been criticised for being
a rightwing echo chamber, a charge that has some merit. This year
promises a greater diversity of voices, though few of them will be
described as 'moderate,'" he writes. "All of the presidential aspirants
may find a sceptical audience. Grassroots conservatives believe that
Republicans bungled the last election and much of the Bush presidency.
They don't like Obama's deficits but understand that the current
president only deepened trends begun by the last one. The logic of
their distrust of government, which is benefiting Republicans at
present, can cut both ways - and all the way to the bone."
- Secessionism at CPAC The New York Times' Gail Collins finds
"civil war déjà vu. The trick in conservative circles today is to see
how furious you can get about Washington's encroachment onto states
rights without quite falling over the edge into Fort Sumter." She
writes, "It's hard for the Conservative Political Action Conference,
which was the home of the right-wing fringe a decade or so ago, to keep
ahead of the game."
GOP Leaders Court Activists CNN's Peter Hamby explores the unusual role reversal. "An uneasy truce may have been reached between the Tea Party movement
and the Republican Party after Republican National Committee Chairman
Michael Steele spent nearly four hours Tuesday trying to calm the fears
of Tea Party leaders who worry that the GOP is out to co-opt their
grassroots energy ahead of the 2010 midterm elections."
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