One of the longest running clips from the 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference was Mick Mulvaney. dismissing the coronavirus pandemic as a media-driven “attempt to overthrow the president.” More than 500,000 deaths and a year later, the first full day of CPAC 2021 in Orlando, Florida, illustrated how little conservatives have learned.
Throughout the day on Friday, the speakers characterized the coronavirus – which continues to claim more than 2000 lives every day in America, as something only weak liberals worry about or, more dire, as little more than a pretext that Democratic public officials have used to shut down businesses and schools.
This kind of rhetoric may seem absurd to people who are serious about science and public health, but it is not to CPAC attendees.
One of the most memorable scenes of Friday’s festivities occurred early on, when event officials had to take the stage and plead with people to respect “private property rights” and the “rule of law” by wearing masks while they were walking through the hotel where the conference was being held. is being held. Disgruntled attendees responded by booing and shouting “freedom!”
CPAC officials should remind attendees that for the love of God, please follow the hotel rules and wear a mask. The unhappy people in the audience shout “freedom!” pic.twitter.com/hvoTPLKQ9J
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 26, 2021
People could be excused for experiencing some cognitive dissonance. Speakers who came before and after that incident showed that enduring a one-year pandemic has not motivated conservatives to take basic public health practices more seriously.
“This is silly”
In particular, a trio of Republican senators were among the worst offenders when it came to spreading misinformation about Covid-19 on Friday.
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) started the morning by bragging not only about going to church “during a Covid time” but also singing during the service.
“I even dared to sing in church, contrary to California doctrine,” he said.
But it has nothing to do with the “California doctrine”, whatever that is. Singing in church was linked to over-spreading events in the early days of the pandemic last spring, which is why public health experts recommended it and some states banned it (until a Supreme Court ruling in November found that such bans were unconstitutional). It’s not safe, unless you’ve already been vaccinated, which Lankford has been, but most Americans haven’t yet.
Lankford’s comment set the tone. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) began his speech with make a joke about his decision to travel to Mexico for a family vacation last week as millions of his constituents languished without power. He then pretended not to understand why wearing masks is important during a pandemic, describing it as “strange” that restaurant goers must wear masks in many states unless they are eating or drinking.
“You go in, you have to put the mask on, unfortunately I have two, you go in, you have to put the mask on. Sit down, you can take off the mask. Look, apparently, the virus is really related to elevation, “Cruz joked, then added:” This is nonsense.
Later, Senator Tom Cotton mocked Maryland officials for state public health guidelines that ended up banning the CPAC from holding the conference at its usual location outside of Washington, DC.
“Even though cases are plummeting and vaccination rates are on the rise, we are still banned from approaching our nation’s Capitol,” Cotton said, as if the fact that new cases and daily deaths have decreased from where They were two months ago a good idea. reason to immediately abandon all public health guidelines.
In hindsight, CPAC 2020 was one of the first indicators that Republicans would politicize public health responses to the coronavirus pandemic by framing any measure that closed businesses or schools as an impact on their personal freedoms. That mindset went on to instill a re-election campaign in which Trump spread disease and misinformation across the country at rallies that mocked basic public health measures.
But even after Trump’s defeat, the conservatives’ focus on the coronavirus pandemic remains unchanged.
It’s still Trump’s party in more ways than one
Beyond poking fun at the coronavirus, another big topic on Friday was the speakers who proposed the same lies about the 2020 elections and the January 6 insurrection.
Wayne Dupree, a conspiracy theorist who once claimed the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag, used a panel discussion to Try to blame Antifa and Black Lives Matter for an insurrection that was perpetrated by Trump supporters. Later, a panel discussion that was devoted entirely to “How the Judges and the Media Refused to Look at the Evidence” of voter fraud had to be interrupted on Right Side Broadcasting’s CPAC broadcast so that hosts could distance yourself from the statements of the panelists. (Voting machine companies have filed and threatened multi-billion dollar lawsuits against individuals and media organizations who have falsely claimed the machines were rigged against Trump.)
Woof. Right Side Broadcasting walked away from the CPAC panel discussion big lie so hosts could read a disclaimer that protects the network from legal liability. pic.twitter.com/Gd170VZUHC
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 26, 2021
And of course, the day was steeped in many culture war complaints especially from social media companies. have the temerity to verify Trump’s facts to Mr. Potato Head’s genitals.
The big takeaway from all this is that the Conservatives haven’t even tried to learn lessons or make adjustments after an election cycle in which they lost control of the White House and Senate.
Like last year, CPAC 2021 is a cult celebration of Donald Trump that will be headlined with a speech by the former president, an embodiment of a movement that represents little more than owning libraries.