February 17th, 2011
Last Thursday night, I drank a couple of cocktails and woke up in the belly of the beast at the back of the ballroom for the opening night of CPAC, the Tea Party party in D.C. They are a case study in the limited power of rage-based motivation. It doesn’t work in the long term. And the climate crowd shouldn’t let themselves fall victim to it.
FILMMAKER AND LIBERTARIANS AT CPAC LAST THURSDAY NIGHT. On the left is climate skeptic uber-villain Marc Morano, on the right, Tad Lumpkin, director of the 30 minute animated video, “The American Dream,” which premiered at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC. In the middle is a guy who thinks that communication is really important, regardless of your party affiliation.
DON’T TELL ME WHO I CAN TALK TO
This month in Rolling Stone, Elton John talks about why he performed last fall at the birthday party of Rush Limbaugh. Yes, he was paid $1 million, but when you’re as wealthy as he is, that’s chump change — and he says as much in the interview.
More importantly, he discusses how important he believes communication to be. And he talks about how he performed at the Grammy’s years ago right at the peak of public outrage over Eminem’s perceived homophobia. Back then People questioned him on how an openly gay man could embrace his supposed enemy, just as they did again last fall with the Limbaugh birthday party performance.
On a smaller scale, you could do the same thing with me. Three years ago I interviewed the supposed voice of climate skepticism evil, Marc Morano, for my movie, “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.” I found him to be a good communicator back then and still do, as I said in detail here last year. I disagree with his politics, as I’ve always made clear, starting with my movie. But I find it interesting to follow his tactics. AND I believe it is valuable for his opponents to have a better understanding of his persona and motivations.
The same is true of Jack Cashill, conservative KC businessman who was a star of my first movie, “Flock of Dodos” and gave the movie his approval in the home DVD extras. And the same is true of Hollywood agent Tad Lumpkin, who is a long time friend, a hardcore Libertarian, and the writer-director of the 30 minute animated film, “The American Dream.”
A month ago Tad sent me a copy of his film. I was impressed with the quality of the production and have to say it’s a fun and interesting tale. He told me the film was set to premiere at CPAC in Washington D.C. I mentioned to him that Marc Morano was given an award at CPAC last year, and put the two in touch through email.
Last Thursday I was in D.C. having a beer with a friend at a bar when I received a text message from Tad. His film was on the screen at the event and that he was sitting next to Marc. Out the door I went.
INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
A half hour later I was standing in the back of the massive ballroom of the Marriott which was overflowing with more than a thousand wild CPAC’ers, watching Ron Paul and his son Rand Paul on stage discussing their views of American politics. The crowd was not just enthusiastic — they were crazy — like some sort of football rally, with people shouting out spontaneously all through the crowd. Which made me realize I was in the belly of the beast — a room filled with the same crackpots who shouted down politicians a couple years ago at the healthcare town hall meetings. Yikes.
Later I was in the hotel bar with Morano and Lumpkin (and an all-star line up of Libertarian political operatives — we were standing next to Pat Caddell, former Carter administration advisor) for the photo above. All of which was funny and even kind of surreal. But so what.
I really can’t take all the people who stand at a distance shouting insults at the other end of the political spectrum, and who then turn on each other with their litmus tests of loyalty, trying to figure out who is not sufficiently virtuous to merit their respect. There’s a “we’re all Americans in the end” element of unity that gets lost on those people.
And lastly, here’s why you don’t want to get too caught up in the party loyalty stuff …
F BOEHNER, F PALIN
If you’re a Democrat and want to know the silver lining to all this, I’ll tell you what it is. As I stood at the back of that packed ballroom with the Paul duo on stage, at one point a chorus of about one hundred people in the corner began chanting, “Fuck Boehner! Fuck Boehner!” And then later I asked my buddy Tad about Sarah Palin. He said, “Every single person at this event hates her.”
So there you go. Good luck to the Republicans uniting that mess and assembling anyone who can compete with Obama. Everyone relax, and remember the old, “United we stand, divided we fall,” dictum. From what I saw in the belly of the beast, the forces of “F this,” aren’t likely to accomplish much against Obama’s message of hope.