Fiscal issues? CPAC is as much about social conservatism as ever

There was a lot of talk at CPAC about American exceptionalism, and how the elites in Washington, Manhattan, and San Francisco don’t believe in it, and how President Obama doesn’t command respect in the world the way that, say, Ronald Reagan did. Every speaker paid homage to Reagan; on whatever the subject, and sometimes despite the facts, Reagan is the benchmark for success. But when you translate the American specialness conservatives cite into policy, the results can be disquieting. It apparently means more God, with one display inquiring, “Why are you a conservative?” The most succinct response, “Because God is.” It means cracking down on immigration, conveniently forgetting that President Reagan signed an amnesty bill, and of course repealing Obama’s health-care law, which Iowa Republican Steve King calls a cancer tumor that must be pulled out by its roots and eradicated before it metastasizes.

A panel on “political correctness” in the military assailed the recent overturning of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gay soldiers. Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness claimed the survey of troops was faulty because it relied too heavily on respondents who said they knew and had worked with someone who was gay. That, she said, didn’t mean they were ready to overturn DADT…

The hearts of many CPAC activists seem to be with the social issues, and among the speakers, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is the embodiment of those issues. Santorum, who is running for president, implored the CPAC audience to join with him in an army anyone can join, one in which they don’t need a uniform. After his remarks a questioner asked, “We’re all ready to fight, but how do we know when we’ve won?”