Posted on | February 22, 2010 | 13 Comments
People who know me as the CPAC Schmooze King — as William Upton of The American Conservative observes, I have a knack for being everywhere at CPAC — often ask me, “Stacy, why have you never been asked to speak at CPAC, nor even to participate in a panel discussion?” I suggest these possible explanations:
- I’m not 14 years old, like Jonathan Krohn.
- I’m not a graceless douchebag like Ryan Sorba:
- My so-called “friends” in the conservative movement, who might have sufficient influence to recommend me for inclusion in the CPAC program, are consumed by secret envy of my superior abilities. This is my own pet theory, especially in the wee hours of the morning when I brood over these repeated snubs, but I don’t expect others to encourage my unfortunate tendency toward a paranoiac worldview.
- Sponsors are fearful of criticism for officially including a participant accused of “extremism.” That used to be my favorite pet theory, until it was invalidated by CPAC’s inclusion of the John Birch Society this year.
- There is a grain of truth in Mike Huckabee’s “pay for play” smear. People outside the ACU/CPAC circle don’t understand the process of organizing this annual event. The sponsors of the conference control the conference, period. They do their best to make the event interesting and informative. The people actively engaged in this organizational work — in meetings, in conference calls, in e-mails — ultimately exercise a yea-or-nea authority over who speaks or doesn’t speak at CPAC, especially on the main ballroom stage. The alternative events (workshops, seminars, panel discussions and receptions outside the main ballroom) all have their own sponsors, who control the selection of participants in those events. So unless you are a Fox TV superstar, a big-name politician or some other conservative celebrity, getting onto the CPAC program is largely a function of your having a sponsoring organization that will push for your inclusion. And I don’t, so I’m not included. QED.
One always hears post-CPAC complaints and grumbles: “Why was so-and-so asked to speak instead of such-and-such?” And it always comes down to this basic explanation: The person who was included had a sponsor/advocate and the person who wasn’t included did not.
The internal processes behind CPAC are seldom discussed very frankly in public. It’s almost like Fight Club — the first rule of CPAC planning is that nobody talks about CPAC planning. But certainly, anyone who uses their CPAC appearance to disparage CPAC will be persona non grata thenceforth.
Good-bye, Ryan Sorba, you graceless douchebag.