Attendees at this weekend's far-right CPAC show off their Trump paraphernalia.

Attendees at this year's far-right CPAC inexplicably remain all in for Trump.

Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

We Are All Domestic Terrorists

Hoo boy. Another CPAC. Shriveled but still stubbornly demented, it offered a carnival of vengeful, bigoted, delusional, fear-mongering crackpots of the far-right universe raging that a woke apocalyptic "they" - communists, trans people, drag queens, socialist rainbow flags - are "coming for you" to destroy your lives. Topping it off was their barking mad overlord - "I am your retribution" - babbling about windmills, baby bonuses, flying cars. What else must we endure, you ask? Try the J6 Prison Choir.

In what even the right-wing Washington Examiner dubbed a "less-than-triumphant" return to D.C., this weekend's CPAC, held at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, was dogged by overpriced tickets - $300 to $7,000 ("Only 12 left!") - low attendance, nasty infighting, and lurid sexual assault accusations against its Chairman Matt Schlapp, who allegedly "grabbed the junk" of a former male staffer for now-vanished Herschel Walker. The seedy result: Many of its myriad speakers faced a vast, deserted wasteland of largely empty rooms, which both they and the cameras - Fox, nowhere in sight, was replaced by Newsmax and fringey outlets like Real America’s Voice, Proverbs Media Group, Lindell TV, Frontline Flash - labored hard to ignore. The often palpable sense of insecurity surfaced in the first 15 seconds of Schlapp's opening speech as he noted, "There's a lot of chatter in the media about who's here and who's not here" - like Mike Pence, Kevin McCarthy and Ron 'What-Can-We-Ban-This-Week' DeSantis, who was instead attending a concurrent donor retreat with the Club for Growth that to some marked "shots fired" in a war for "the future of the party," such as it is. Still, Schlapp did dubiously boast he was there with "possibly the most powerful man in Washington D.C.," seditionist embodiment of mediocrity Gym Jordan. Cue meme of them under a CPAC marquee reading, "We Are All Domestic Terrorists."

With only about 2,200 attendees, CPAC's usually expansive swag-filled MAGA Mall was limited to one long table. But the merch was as classy as ever: caps, buttons, t-shirts declaring "Let's Go Brandon," "Ultra MAGA," "I Could Shit A Better President," "Trump Forever," "God, Guns and Trump," and "Biden/Fetterman 2024: It's a No-Brainer." There was also a display for "Jan. 6 Political Prisoners and Lost Loved Ones"; its banner declared, "You are not alone." The theme of this year's confab, "Protecting America Now," focused on the ostensible goal of saving the Republic from Marxist overreach and making government "so small we don't even know it's there," never mind the right's frantic efforts to strip half the population of bodily autonomy, kill Social Security and Medicare, slash LGBTQ/trans rights and ban every book they find icky, because who needs the police or fire department and "that's how a nation of 332,000,000 people works - like magic!" Many of the lunatic panels carried a whiff of end-of-times paranoia: "Open Borders Kill," "The Biden Crime Family," "No Chinese Balloons Over Tennessee," "The Red Menace Comes to the Americas,""Sacking the Woke Playbook," "The New Axis of Evil: Soros, Schwab, and Fink" - no we're not anti-Semitic why do you ask - and No Dominus Vobiscum,” or "the Lord is not with you.” “The Old Gods, Ba’al and Moloch, the god (sic) of death, are moving in,” intoned the President of Concerned Women for America. "We are seeing it now, and it’s Satanic.”

A gazillion third-rate, grievance-laden speakers echoed them: Sebastian Gorka! Candace Owens! Wayne LaPierre! James O'Keefe, fresh from being booted from Project Veritas, now a newly minted "guerrilla journalist" with a 7:45 a.m. time slot in the Cherry Blossom Ballroom. (All their slots In the schedule read "Speech" except My Pillow Guy, who got "My Speech.") Attack Biden and the "radical left," no more trans weirdness, kill "wokeness" before it kills us. "When it comes to destroying our freedom, the socialist Democrats will never stop,“ declaimed Nikki Haley. "Wokeness is a virus more dangerous than any pandemic." Hilariously, despite its deadly ubiquity, it seemed few attendees could define wokeness. "That's a loaded question," stalled one. "It covers so many things." Another: “The children and in the schools and trying to make the transgender, and it came to so many things...which is wrong in this country,” also rainbow flags in classrooms. From a Mom for Liberty: "It's anything that’s anti-American, anti-common sense, anti-really in the sense of education, what education was meant to do..It’s like a garden, you’re getting rid of the weeds so the things you actually want to grow...Woke communism is where they’re trying to take over based on people’s feelings." In other words, CPAC is "like day-time SNL, but not funny." Also, "a kind of Coachella for misinformation, bigotry and religious zealotry." Or a dystopian dumpster fire, its small tawdry flame drawing hapless losers in from the cold.

Speeches marked by rage and incoherence were often packaged in tidy, witless sound-bites. Nigel Farage on COVID: "When laws become enemies of men, men become enemy of laws." Lara Trump on mid-terms: "A wise man once said that sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war.” Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy: "The climate religion has about as much to do with the climate as the Spanish Inquisition had to do with Christ." Bellicose felon Steve Bannon hissed, "There's no longer a gathering storm. The storm is here," but mostly saved his vitriol for Fox: "OK, Murdoch, here's the way it's gonna be - you've disrespected Donald J. Trump long enough." Mike Pompeo was big on theocracy: "We are equal in the eyes of the Lord is the antidote to the poisonous lie of equity, wokeness and identity politics...They can cancel some things, but they're not gonna cancel God." Don Jr. played "an incompetent Willy Wonka," bribing listeners with chocolate bars under their seats that were VIP tickets to his loveless father's speech; he claimed Dems funded "10-month abortions," called Jon Fetterman "a vegetable" who should "work as a bag guy at a grocery store," ranted about "insane" (pot/kettle) leftists. Kim Guilfoyle shrieked the media is "destroying all our lives" and "IT IS TIME...TO PUT...AMERICA FIRST!"; later, she urged people not to do business "with woke companies that hate you" but buy Kim's Metals instead. Ted Cruz still wants to jail Dr. Fauci, and Ben Carson got played offstage after interminably mumbling about...Normandy? In panels, sports built this country, let's hunt journalists, everyone not here's a pedophile.

It got worse. Lying, hateful, transphobic Marjorie Taylor Greene, having falsely charged Biden "laughs at mothers of children who've died of fentanyl poisoning" to cover her own inane blunders, smugly told the crowd of her upcoming "Protect Children's Innocence Act" making it a felony "to provide anything to do with gender-affirming care" to minors, sure to help all those at-risk kids who've become scapegoats for the right's fear and loathing. Online, her claim "the left has told us they're coming for our children" got the day's most riotous responses: "I don't want nobody's children - I already raised my own," "I missed the memo. When are we heading out to get the kids? I have dinner plans tonight, but I’m free tomorrow," "No Marge, those are school buses. Every weekday morning. They...ugh, never mind," "I don't want her children," and, "My concern is storage." There was also creepy, smirking Matt Gaetz, who called for abolishing the FBI, CDC, DOJ etc "if they do not come to heel" before gloating he had an "update on an important update" about what he doesn't seem to realize are the utterly discredited "dozens of whistleblowers" - aka three sketchy paid conspiracy theorists - touted by Gym Jordan as proof of the "weaponization" of government. There was Lauren Boebert yelling, "Truth is on our side...Use God’s word...You are to speak to that mountain," and in perhaps the most chilling moment amidst days of obsessive attention to the genitals of our most vulnerable minority, there was the edict that "transgenderism... must be eradicated from public life entirely."

Finally, after his autocratic bestie Bolsonaro, there was Trump - sweaty, wrathful, babbling, raving, an old sick man "just shy of drooling" spewing word salad to declare himself the "only hope" of our "filthy communist country" where "they're coming after you," as the media soberly analyzes delirious pronouncements like, "You ever see television, used to be, you know, our military, we were proud of it, we'd be doing all things, now all you see is investigation investigation..." What the ever-loving fuck. Wild lies flew. "Look at all these people," he said of a gaping empty room. "They’re up to the rafters." "The wall was sitting there waiting to be installed, and Biden, they took it away, they hid it, they put it in a hiding area..." He'll "prevent - and very easily - World War III." Also, "We'll "take the homeless and drug-addicted and severely deranged and get them off our streets and create tent cities...We'll invite governors of all 50 spates (sic) to join us in a great beautification campaign...We will rename our schools and boulevards not after communists... We will support baby bonuses for a new baby boom! Oh, you men are so lucky," and please buy my gold coins. Whew. Kudos to the tireless Aaron Rupar for "watching CPAC so you don't have to," and covering this madness, blow by bonkers blow. The final, surreal, unthinkable one: A new sedition anthem by Trump and the "J6 Prison Choir," a group of Jan. 6 inmates in D.C's jail who recorded it over a jailhouse phone. "Not looking forward to more from this 'artist,'" was one review. Another: "He will be joining the choir soon, hopefully." For now - lest we forget, FYI, beware - he and his noxious cohorts are still out here.

Empty seats at CPACEmpty seats at CPACTwitter photo

Kimberly Guilfoyle It's Time to Put America

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