When Jezebel decided to send two people to CPAC, I'm sure people familiar with this site's typical political line thought we'd spend the whole time shitting on it. Before we arrived, we feared we were about to walk into what is essentially a conference for angry Fox Nation comments. But the reality is actually... kind of... pleasant?
While there's plenty to shit on about CPAC, for now, Anna and I are discussing everything good about the conference. Positivity. We've only got 24 more hours of this before we hop on a train back to New York City.
Erin: Let's get this out of the way first: this is not a bad experience. I'm not being sarcastic. This is fun.
Anna: This is super fun and I'm genuinely having a great time. Also the coffee is great.
Erin: The coffee in the media center is 1000 percent better than the Starbucks coffee you can buy.
Anna: It certainly is. So that is Nice Things to Say About CPAC 1 and 2: the media center is nice and the coffee is very good.
Erin: I really appreciated how yesterday when we both were laughing so hard we were crying when Sarah Palin said, "Ask the Nazis. Oh wait, you can't, THEY'RE DEAD," nobody kicked us out. We were being dicks.
Anna: It's true. I was literally cackling and at most we got a few dirty looks.
Erin: Palin's speech was good and I agreed with most of what she said, and she seemed to know what she was talking about and apart from a rocky start and rocky finish and some anti-Islam sled dog-whistling, she was coherent, thoughtful, and smart.
Anna: Yes. Everybody agrees we need to take better care of our veterans.
Erin: We probably disagree with the How, but agreeing on the What is a good start. Usually when I hear her What I'm like, what.
Anna: Right, I think Sarah's vision is a Commander-in-Chief who parachutes in and slaughters ISIS individually with a bowie knife. But, like, the part where we give our vets adequate medical care when they come home: Amen, Sarah.
Erin: And the part about how families are destroyed by what happens to them over there: right the fuck on.
Anna: What else? Oh, yes: Every man here is wearing a suit that's fits appropriately.
Erin: Yes! Even the young men who are still built like gawky 11-year-olds. They've all managed to dress themselves very well, and select sensible and fashionable ties and shirts.
Anna: It's very impressive and I congratulate them for it. Also they are unfailingly polite, even when they read our nametags.
Erin: Yes, very polite. Every man here under the age of 35 or so has been very very nice. Especially when we take off our blazers. [Note: shortly after this conversation, I took an elevator back to our hotel room and on the way back down, a man spent the entire ride narrating to a person on the other end of the phone how I looked. My lipstick color, my dress color, my shoe color. He was not young, so I'm chalking it up to his being old, because I'm feeling generous, and because this post is about positivity.]
Anna: Yes, as soon as we lost our blazers and went to the hotel bar we scored an invite to the Breitbart party tonight, which is apparently the hottest ticket at CPAC. [As soon as I said that a chasm in the earth opened up and I could hear the wailing of the souls of the damned — NO ANNA, NO, ONLY NICE THINGS.]
Erin: Look, that man was very polite. We have to work our courage up to go to the Breitbart table and tell the man who told us to stop by who we are and where we work. He didn't know yesterday, but now he's going to know.
Anna: He is. He will know.
Erin: I get the impression though that the people here are either exerting an immense amount of energy to appear chill or are much more naturally chill than they act on the internet.
Anna: They do seem quite chill.
Erin: Which is a little confusing to me, because I'd much rather read an article by somebody like that really nice Campus Reform reporter we met last night, and I'd be much more open to listening to her if I didn't associate fans of Campus Reform with very weird and mean tweets telling me that I should die choking to death on pieces of dick.
Basically, CPAC, get your people.
Anna: I do wonder how many people here have tweeted at us that we should die by dick-choke. Someone behind us is talking about "Jewish folks."
Erin: Well, if they want us to die, they don't act like it. Maybe that's why we got invited to that dude's house though! Oooooo! Long game!
Anna: That would be VERY impressive.
Erin: I'd have to give it to them, as I was dying of murder: this was well played.
Anna: "As I was dying of murder." "Great job on that plot, great plot."
Erin: Our hotel room is pretty sick, except the coffee maker is missing a part OR I'm too stupid/impatient to figure out how the coffee maker works, which is another possibility.
Anna: I also couldn't figure it out! Maybe this is less about the coffeemaker and more about the liberal media.
Erin: GREAT candy selection at the General Store. An array of gummies.
Anna: Yes, in the couple days we've been here we have purchased an ASSORTMENT of gummy candies, which I will gladly share with any of our new conservative friends.
Erin: One thing I've noticed is that a lot of people here (young people) are acutely aware of how embarrassing other conservatives can be, in a way that liberals aren't as willing to admit about their own nutty contingencies.
Erin: They're also convinced that if we only talk to them for long enough we will agree with them. Which is exactly how I feel about most things, w/r/t people I disagree with talking to me. If I moved to DC, I'd never shut up.
Anna: Right, I see a very intense preoccupation with making conservatism cool and relatable. There's a sense from a lot of the speakers onstage that liberals are winning the communication war in the media—not on the strength of their ideas, but on how they package them.
Erin: Conservatism has gotten a bad rap, and in some ways that bad rap has been determined unfairly.
Anna: But then we start talking about something like equal rights for gay people and I'm like, nope, I'm right on this one.
Erin: Yeah, there are a few flavors of omnipresent cultural phobias that seem on display at CPAC that I'm not on board with.
Anna: Right, like immigrants sneaking in to steal our healthcare, etc.
Erin: But I even found myself agreeing—ON POINTS—with Rick Perry. Or was it Rubio? One of those sub-Mason Dixon dudes with dark hair who just spoke about the older generation bankrupting younger people.
Anna: That was Rubio.
Erin: Man. I can't tell the difference between conservative men. Like, Rubio is Cuban American and Perry is whiter than a line of coke and I can't tell the difference.
Anna: The politicians do have a uniform funeral director look.
Erin: It's the suits.
Anna: ERIN. We have not yet talked about THE MOST EXCITING THING that happened today.
Erin: OUR POSTERS. You're right.
Anna: So, as we were walking over here to do this chat, an ANGEL APPEARED.
Erin: TWO angels, holding a picture of a SUPER ANGEL: Sarah Palin, backlit by sunlight, on a horse, looking BEAUTIFUL. (I'm not being a dick; Sarah Palin is beautiful.) We both got a poster.
Anna: She looks gorgeous. She looked very beautiful last night too. I don't know how to say it without sounding like I am also being a dick: Sarah looks great. Give Sarah her due, man.
Erin: She's like Julianne Moore levels of ageless. And I don't say that lightly.
Erin: Here's another thing that keeps happening: people keep taking pictures of me when I'm just, like, sitting and trying to do work. I really hope to god that I'm not represented as a CPAC attendee who is like, here for the ideas.
Anna: Yeah, we were filmed at length yesterday.
Erin: WE ARE MEDIA.
Erin: Can we also talk about the conference of DTF bankers? Wearing less-good suits than the college Republicans here?
Anna: Ah yes. CPAC is not the only conference being held here at the Gaylord Convention Center this week. There's also a conference of public defenders, who have been stuck in a hallway somewhere far away. And then there are the bankers, who are nearby. And who have demonstrated a strong interest in seeing where Erin is from and where she's going.
Erin: Two of them have approached me flirtatiously, which I found very weird because I *never* get hit on in New York.
Anna: I... am not getting hit on here.
Erin: Wait, it's Newt! 10 feet away. There's Newt!
Anna: Posing for pix with, let's be honest, a pretty small crowd.
Erin: I want to dislike him so badly but his infatuation with zoo animals is so cute. And I love the story of him getting bitten by a penguin. Remember that?
Anna: I do remember that. Je Suis That Penguin.
Anna: You know, we have yet to mention one of the most interesting aspects of CPAC, which is the Swag Room. AKA the "CPAC hub."
Erin: Oh right. I'm about to go back there in a minute to get more stuff.
Anna: There is an enormous room in CPAC full of free stuff from conservative orgs. And at least two separate drawings to win guns. Including an AR-15.
Erin: I got a magazine yesterday called WOMEN AND GUNS that has a cover model that looks like a circa Carrie Sissy Spacek. I was like, "Oooh, I love this vintage photo!" and the guy was like, that is not a vintage photo. The woman is putting a really pretty gun into her purse and looking around with elevated caginess.
Anna: We also looked at handbags with the Constitution printed inside it. Oh my god, one of the patriotic bikers is walking by. I fucking love these guys. They're bikers in stars and stripes bandanas.
Erin: Um, handbag lady was a dream. She and I talked about fashion, about how before she launched her line people made fun of her for wanting to inject her political beliefs into a line of handbags. We connected. It was a moment.
Anna: We also had a long conversation with the NRA guys, the nice girl at the Susan B. Anthony List booth and I wandered off to chat with the clean-cut white boys running the swag booth for Western Journalism. Which is a conservative site that veers a little hateful for my tastes, but we had a Nice Chat.
Erin: The Susan B Anthony List girl was so nice. She reminded me of a bizarro world Kelly Faircloth. Like, her demeanor. Although Kelly is like a pecan pie full of delicious poison and I mean that in the best way possible.
Anna: Yes, well, we're obviously Team Kelly if she and that lady have to fight to the death ever.
Erin: Let's hope that never happens.
Anna: And the last nice thing we can say about CPAC: people here are falling in luuuuuuv.
Erin: I'm sure they'll all be very happy together.
Top photo via AP.