By: Brian Smith, Columnist
As the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) drew to a close on March 2, it left behind some very memorable moments. Among these was enduring chants of “build that wall,” a speaker being kicked out after harassing journalists and the president promising to sign an executive order for freedom of speech. In his long two-hour speech, President Donald Trump even went off script to go after the looming Mueller report on Russian collusion. So, with all of these developments, and many false claims, let’s unpack this year’s CPAC.
Before getting to President Trump’s speech, let’s first cover some other major highlights from the CPAC. For starters, journalists like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin from Fox News were among their keynote speakers. This media outlet has long criticized biased reporting from other networks, but at the same time was recently caught intentionally killing the Stormy Daniels story to help Trump win the 2016 election. Next, was Penny Nance from Concerned Women for America who stated that Trump is “the most pro-life president in my lifetime,” which is ironic given that Trump was once a big supporter of abortion rights. Next came judge Jeanine Pirro who said Trump was “the one to put on his big boy pants” about the border wall issue. However, the reality is Trump simply refused to negotiate, shutdown the government and is now having members of his own party vote for a motion to shoot down his attempt to bypass Congress. Lastly, CPAC members and speakers alike seemed to be thrown into hysteria about the notion that the Green New Deal was going to be sending the government after their cows and hamburgers. Not only is this baseless and ridiculous, but Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. even went so far as to threaten to shoot Alexandria Ocasio Cortez if she ever showed up to take his cattle.
Let’s now transition to President Trump’s speech filled with lies, misleading information and a very odd moment of off scripted ranting. Sticking to this point on the Green New Deal, Trump claimed the adoption of this legislation would lead to “no energy.” However, this proposal calls for the expansion of renewable energy sources which already account for 17.1 percent of electricity generated in the United States. Next, the President once again boasted about the economy without mentioning the ballooning deficit which is up to $891 billion due in large part to his tax plan and tariffs. In mentioning the strength that America is projecting through its tariffs on China, Trump forgot to mention the fact that the trade deficit has also widened by 19 percent to $621 billion as his tariffs are proving to be counterproductive and damaging to American farmers. Additionally, the trade deficit with China has increased by 116% to a total of $419.2 billion. To Trump, these tariffs were the pinnacle of his foreign policy, which is understandable when observing that he refuses to blame North Korea for torturing an American student (Otto Warmbier) to death.
Trump also took Kim Jong Un at his word for the denuclearization of the North Korean Sohae site. This week, however, photos from a group called “Beyond Parallel” captured photographs that showed North Korea has resumed building its nuclear test sites. Then, Trump had a big off script moment in which he once again took aim at the Mueller investigation. He reinstated his claims of it being a witch hunt, calling the Mueller team one consisting of “the angriest group of Democrats”, and saying the overall investigation is b******t. Even though this is factually inaccurate, and these investigators have a duty to remain impartial, Trump didn’t seem to care so long as he could twist this to fit his narrative. Lastly, Trump called for an executive order for free speech to ensure college conservatives have a voice on their campuses. While this is an important concern to ensure all points of view are being heard, free speech is already a guarantee given to every citizen in the constitution. So, when Trump discusses the issue of free speech through executive order it must be asked “free for who, exactly?”
Though CPAC is supposed to be a place where the best conservative thinkers can shine, this was instead a CPAC filled with false claims and political blunders. Rather than addressing the real issues this country faces, conservatives were instead fixated on the day that tree hugging socialists come running for their cows. Still, Trump was met with chants of “build that wall” which has so far proven to be a major loss for him on one of his biggest campaign promises. The time of Republicans’ control of both houses of congress is over, meaning that if Republicans want to make some lasting changes they’ll have to work in a bipartisan way to get things done. While addressing this crowd at CPAC Trump said “I’m in love, and you’re in love. We’re all in love together.” However, if CPAC is any indication of what Trump will seek to do during the last two years of his term, many Americans are not in love; they’re gravely concerned for what lies ahead.