Magazine article The American Prospect

Cast into the Darkness

Magazine article The American Prospect

Cast into the Darkness

Article excerpt


IN THE ANNALS OF THE CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ACTION Conference, which has been convened annually since 1973, the 2008 meeting in Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel will likely be remembered by participants as the one that, all things considered, probably should never have been convened at all. In past years, attendees reveled in their own power. They were the center of the Republican universe, and if anyone questioned that, a quick glance at the podium--where such luminaries as Ronald Reagan (who'd addressed 12 conferences), Newt Gingrieh, and, more recently, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had all held forth--would dispel any doubt.

This year, though, it was more like conferees were attending, if not their own funeral, at least a rite of their displacement. Their own presidential standard bearer, Mitt Romney, came to tell them he was dropping out of the race. Their bete noir, John McCain, who'd had the temerity to blow them off altogether in 2007, came to claim the spoils of victory. Worse yet, he'd won that victory by mobilizing moderate Republicans and picking off just enough conservatives to win the nomination--something no Republican had done since Gerald Ford in 1976, and he was the goddamn incumbent. The whole, if unplanned, point of this year's CPAC was to tell conferees: You do not dominate the Republican Party, not this year, thank you very much, and no, you cannot get your registration fee refunded.

Like going on a pilgrimage to Rome only to have the pope tell you God is dead, this is no way to build morale.


Atop the list of a rudimentary Google search for "2008 presidential campaign slogans" are a slew of tongue-in-cheek suggestions from bloggers on both sides of the aisle. These proposals are often glib, sometimes rude, and frequently hilarious. A highlight, from Doug Ross' blog, for Hillary Clinton: "Clinton '08 ... This time with pants."

Combing these fake catchphrases is certainly more interesting than parsing the candidates' actual slogans. It's as if, at the outset of the 2008 race, each campaign received the same--limited--Magnetic Poetry kit of words from which they could create a slogan. Imagine low-level staffers desperately combing through tiny magnetic strips, hoping to arrive at the least-threatening combination of words like strength, change, and freedom. Thus, you get, "Change We Can Believe In" from Barack Obama and "Change Begins with Us" from Mitt Romney. …

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