The annual gathering of conservatives is about to kick off in DC, and I’m already exhausted.
Before you send me hate Tweets, let me say I’m a fan of the concept of The Conservative Political Action Conference — CPAC. Despite never actually having paid to attend one, I’ve managed to attend all but a handful of the 21st century CPAC’s. They are the best gathering of conservative activists each year. The speakers are rock stars. And The ACU (who conducts the conference) has been nothing but kind to me.
They do a great job. This year’s conference will, no doubt, be the best ever.
Having said that, there is much for a middle-aged (I suppose that’s what I now am — depending on how long I plan to live), journalist living in the DC-area to hate about such an event.
I know it’s all fun and games for you. But that’s because you waltz into town from Topeka — or San Diego — or Chicago — or wherever you live — and turn CPAC into a semi-vacation. You hole up in your fancy hotel room at the Marriott Wardman Park during the day, and go out boozing with your pals at night. And since you met me once a couple years ago — you want to meet up with me — me! — at 11:30 … at night.
That’s how you roll. It’s different for me. To quote Spinal Tap: “There’s no sex and drugs for Ian, David.”
I can’t walk two feet without being stopped by someone. (Note: This is rarely a foxy coed wanting me to sign her copy of “The Quotable Rogue”; it is typically instead someone who wants to know why I’m not following him on Twitter — or someone who wants to correct my take on the repeal of Glass-Steagall — or both!)
A lot of people sure seem to know me at CPAC, and I try hard to remember who they are. Occasionally, they bust me. I’m pretty sure this makes me a jerk. There are also the gadflies — the people who attend every conservative event. This person is almost always a dude. You try to avoid this guy. But you can’t. He is a “time burglar.”
And because I’m highly-recognizable (at CPAC), it’s important I keep my “fun” to a minimum. (This is why I go to insurance conventions in Poughkeepsie when I really want to party.)
There’s also this: While this may be your vacation, I’ve still got familial obligations. I live here — and that’s a major disadvantage. I’ve got like chores and stuff to do.
Do you think my pug walks himself?
Additionally, I sort of have to keep, you know, writing about politics. Now, you might think that CPAC provides a lot of content for a writer. The truth is that if you want to write about the substance of the speeches, you’re better off watching it on CSPAN. (If you’re looking to write an Stephen Glass-esque expose about debauchery, well that’s another story; Robert Stacy McCain deserves mad props for dubbing it the “Mardis Gras of the Right”).
Some bloggers — I’m thinking of Philip Klein and Dave Weigel here — are what I call “MacGyver” bloggers. These are the guys who can attend a conference, bang out 5-7 blog posts a day, and still manage to go out with you for a drink or five.
I’m not sure how they do it — the lugging around of the equipment — the avoiding people — the getting online. Frankly, I can’t usually seem to even get on the WiFi at these things. I’m much better at my desk with my TV and computer and coffee. I’m more efficient that way. Maybe that’s just me?
So no, I probably won’t hang with you at CPAC. The odds are not good …
Note: When I say I won’t meet with you, I’m assuming you realize I don’t literally mean…you. (This is for those other annoying people.)