Earlier this month, Sarah Palin spoke at a meeting in Nashville with less than 700 attendees. That same weekend, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and others were at a St. Louis meeting of conservatives with about half that many people.
For some sense of scale, I attended Magic: The Gathering tournaments bigger than this, and I only played sealed deck. A mid-sized regional bridge tournament can expect 2,000 to 2,500 people. These meetings were tiny, but the press lapped them up, whether left, right or "mainstream".
But this week, the minor league events are over and it's time for the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, which has been in existence since 1973 and is held in Washington, D.C. Last year, they claimed 9,000 attendees and this year 10,000.
To give an idea of scale, that is about the size of the crowd that watched a top flight game of women's pro soccer in this country earlier this decade before the league withered and died after three years.
The increase in attendance is due in large part to the presence of Ron Paul at the conference. I say this because of the results of the Presidential Straw Poll this year, an event the conference has held for some time now. The poll is unscientific because of self-selection bias, and so completely meaningless as a predictor, even of the true opinions of the people at the conference. Though the straw poll costs nothing, only about a quarter of the people attending actually filled out the ballot, and this year Ron Paul, boosted by his followers known as the Paultards by their opponents on both the left and right, pushed their candidate into first place with 31% of the vote. In the three years before this, the largest ballot stuffing contingent at this meaningless charade belonged to Mitt Romney, who went home with 22% of the vote. That 22% was very close to the proportion he had last year in a smaller sample.
This brings me to why I am reusing the shattered GOP symbol. This year's CPAC meeting was supposed to be the first of the post Tea Party era, and the Tea Party hero Glenn Beck spoke, but it was Ron Paul's supporters who made the real difference. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh hate Ron Paul, who has opposed the wars Bush got into after the fact and thinks marijuana legalization should be a states' rights issue. When Paul's huge straw poll win was announced, boos were heard in the audience. It should be noted that alleged Tea Party darling Sarah Palin finished a distant third in the balloting with 7%. The fact that the top three vote getters in the poll only accounted for 60% of the responses shows that these people can't agree on lunch, let alone the direction of the country.
Another chorus of boos at CPAC is also getting a lot of play, when speaker Ryan Sorba went into a tirade about the presence of a gay GOP group at the conference, a group called GOProud, a splinter from an older group called the Log Cabin Republicans. You can listen to Mr. Sorba's tirade if you want, but it really is just nonsense words strung together. For instance, I know the definitions of all the words in the sentence "Human nature is a rational substance in relationship." But it's obviously crap. Substance implies a thing you can measure, and there is no measuring human nature. Moreover, only someone living in Fantasyland would call human nature rational.
If I may quote Andy Samberg's impression of Rahm Emanuel, "What are you? Fourteen?"
On other blogs' comments about the rant, I've seen pop psychology diagnosis of Mr. Sorba's latency levels, but I'd like to say in his defense that he's not gay, as in happy, but he is queer, as in odd.
I, on the other hand, am both gay (happy) and queer (odd), but not homosexual. My heart still belongs to The Big Girls.
And Indira Varma.
We must never forget Indira Varma.
I'm currently re-watching the first season of Rome trying to remain completely objective about the topic of Indira Varma, but any camera shot longer than three seconds puts the lie to that immediately. And then she talks in that English accent.
I'm mad for her and that isn't changing, unlike the definition of what conservative means now in this country.