Divisions and Debate at CPAC

Mary Katharine Ham
|
Posted: Feb 09, 2006 2:49 PM

Right now, they're sweeping the ballroom, so the VP's security can take over before his speech tonight. There's a lull. A little recap of the day.

Both Bob Barr and George Will went after the administration on the NSA wiretap program this morning. Will had this to say about Iraq.

Little Miss Attila paraphrases Jim Gilmore on immigration, which is a hot issue today, and will be throughout the weekend.

["Amnesty," of course, is becoming one of those squisy words that has at least two separate definitions, like "affirmative action"—which either does involve quotas or does not, depending on how you feel about the issue. Everyone is against quotas, just as everyone is against amnesty. It's a question of getting more precise than that and figuring out, for example, whether we can have a guest worker program—or enhanced rates of legal immigration&msash;without creating the kind of amnesty that only encourages a sudden, overwhelming flood during a perceived "window of opportunity."—ed.]

Tom Tancredo dissed the President's idea for a guest-worker program and called for the repeal of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act (I imagine a few people will say that this week, and I imagine I'll smile when they do.)

Reuters is reporting on the great 'division' among conservative activists here, saying that the atmosphere is markedly different from last year's conference.

Funny, I remember having this exact same debate about division among conservatives last year. Reuters clearly wants to play up the "conservative coalition falling apart" angle, but the fact is that conservatives and libertarians and everyone from all corners of the movement are always debating important issues, often vigorously.

I would argue that's why the center-right has most of the, you know, ideas for dealing with problems like entitlement spending, immigration, and terrorism these days. Yes, it's a constant balancing act to keep us all together, and it's not easy, but Democrats make it much easier by offering exactly no alternative.

So, yeah, we argue. We'll argue tonight over dinner. We'll argue after dinner over beers. And then we'll show up here tomorrow and do it all over again. I've never felt like that meant the coalition was falling apart. A little rancorous from time to time, yes, but not falling apart.

Then again, I'm totally one of those can't-we'all-just-get-along kind of people.