President Donald Trump speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)

 

Of MAGA hats, and men

 

This visit to CPAC has delivered numerous firsts for me. First time I have witnessed the President live. First time this writer who lives half a mile away from the Everglades has ever visited The Swamp. First time I have seen this many black/dark blue Brooks Brothers suits under one roof. And this morning was the first time I witnessed the MAGA wave, firsthand from the floor, in the midst of the red-necktie throng.

I was the lone staffer to beat the security measures, getting in the convention as the locked it down, just getting to the convention wing as it was closing, and making it into the speaking hall as the door closed. The floor was filled with beatific smiles and energy, and then the screens came to life with the images of Matt Schlapp.

We were granted ponderous minutes of the Chairman of the American Conservative Union in a montage of his appearances on news networks, as entertaining as your Uncle’s vacation videos. Schlappe beamed as he took the stage, and then declared it was the largest crowd ever at CPAC. This is shaky ground, when you consider Trump’s boasting about his inauguration. I may need some drone shots of the hall to convince me of this.

Schlapp introduced President Trump, and chants of “USA” rose up. (I wasn’t aware that there was a question about the pedigree of our leader here?) The President declared at one point that he was going off script. This is of little surprise to anyone who has witnessed his prolix before. In a following panel one member stated he was backstage and of the entire speech ninety percent of it was off-teleprompter. There were times that maybe it would have been wiser to stick with a script.

Most of the speech was of a declarative nature, with him stating many of the accomplishments from the first year in office, then delivering this curious summation: “I may have kept more campaign promises than I made!” I’ll leave it to the math wizards to straighten out that formula. Moments later he induced more chants as he returned to his perpetual promise to build the border wall, which calls back to his stilted claim. I guess he did not fulfill all his campaign promises?

In detailing some of his economic accomplishments Trump listed a number of states that were prospering under his guidance. Mentioning those by name, each one is described as “The Great State”. There is a heavy implication others may not be great? I’m betting they are not swing-states like the greats Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania…

To his credit, The President then mentioned the recently passed Reverend Billy Graham. While it is great to see him honoring one of our best religious leaders it does not feel quite right to hear Trump describing him in a personal fashion. It manages to sound as natural as me describing the hydrogen conversion kit specs to retrofit a Toyota Tundra.

This eventually gave way to the dramatic reading portion of the speech. The President returned to a novel element of some speeches during his campaign, reading of a poem entitled, “The Snake”. Telling a story of a woman who rescues a snake that eventually bites her, these are actually lyrics from a soul singer from the 1960s, and Trump has used it at times to serve as a metaphor of immigration policy. Hearing him reciting it in his trademark bombast is an exercise in the uncomfortable.

Finally, The President drank in enough adulation and he ceded the podium. Then — in a very bizarre selection — after this speech which was filled with how he had accomplished everything he sought out, the music that played him offstage was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.

There’s your metaphor, folks.