In a really embarrassing CPAC speech, cool dads Ted Cruz and JD Vance tell it like it is

They’re not like regular dads, they’re cool dads!

Holly Baxter
New York
Thursday 02 March 2023 23:06 GMT

CPAC is always a barrel of laughs, and this year’s conference in Washington DC is no different. Where else can you rub shoulders with peers who agree that Kyle Rittenhouse is a true American hero? Where else can you attend break-out events with names like “Sacking the Woke Playbook” (11.20am on Thursday in the Potomac Ballroom), “Big Tech - Break ‘em up, Bust ‘em up, Put ‘em in Jail” (with a panel including Devin Nunes, the CEO of fascist-enabling Twitter dupe Truth Social), “The Biden Crime Family”, and “Finish the Wall, Build the Dome” (Saturday lunchtime, and it’s possible sandwiches will be served)?

Where else does Jair Bolsonaro, former far-right Brazilian president known for Covid denialism and selling off the rainforest, speak alongside ex-con Steve Bannon and Jewish space laser believer Marjorie Taylor Greene? In other words, where else can conservatives in this country — and by conservatives, obviously, I mean the extreme right of the right-wing Republican Party which only sometimes believes in democracy and definitely doesn’t believe your diabetic child has the right to $35 insulin — truly be free?

CPAC is the only place.

It makes sense that JD Vance would speak at such a hallowed conference, within whose walls true liberty abounds. Vance is the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book everyone thought was a tender memoir about growing up in poverty until they realized it was more of a cliché-ridden “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” manifesto written by a Yale Law School graduate who worked at Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm. And we all know there’s nothing CPAC likes more than a white guy with a controversial book and a sure sense that the poor are poor because they’re morally deficient.

Vance is currently serving as a Republican senator for Ohio, having gone on a political journey since 2016, when he was a self-declared “never-Trumper”. Who knows exactly what happened between then and now, but he graduated from “never-Trumper” to Trump admirer in 2018 to election denier in 2021 and then Trump endorsee by 2022. And now he speaks at CPAC! What a difference seven years makes.

On Thursday, Vance took the stage in DC directly after a session on China called “Caging the Red Dragon”. He appeared alongside Ted Cruz in a double-header treat, in a session moderated by podcaster Ben Ferguson. It opened just after a slickly made commercial for conservatism that played on the big screen behind them, featuring a flashing hammer and sickle and an image of Xi Jinping biting loudly into an apple. Then Ferguson strode onstage like he was opening Coachella, yelling, “All right, is everyone ready to have some fun?!” And oh boy, everyone was.

Cruz opened with a little joke about how his daughter Caroline used to refer to Mitch McConnell as “that mean man” because he kept her dad away from home so much when he was Senate Majority Leader. Mitch found this pretty funny, Cruz said; he got a kick out of it. If Mitch likes that, no doubt he’d go crazy for what he hears me say about him after a couple of beers, but we can’t give the man everything he wants.

CPAC crowd boos Anthony Fauci during cable news compilation on Covid origins

Flyin’ Ted went on to talk about how much he hates “the idiots who shut this country down”. He and Vance sat only a little awkwardly in front of the crowd in their unremarkable suits, hair and beards identically styled, Vance staring at Cruz throughout like a puppy dog just waiting for a ball. They talked about how Covid had probably been caused by a Chinese lab leak. Ferguson brought a clip up of Anthony Fauci, which the crowd loudly booed. There were some mutters about locking Fauci up, which Cruz capitalized on later in a long speech about how, if there were any justice, Fauci would be in jail right now. And gosh, it’s been such a long time since we had a good “Lock him/her up!” chant, hasn’t it? The 2015 nostalgia can bring a tear to one’s eye. Of course, it might also make you think things like: Wow, the Republicans haven’t had an original idea now for more than two election cycles? They’re still calling for their opponents to be thrown into prison even after their own people have been hauled through the courts like nobody’s business, even after the whole insurrection thing? They’re still calling Fauci a liar because he changed his stance on masks and lockdowns according to the science, when they have a guy on their team who literally got found out lying about being Jewish and losing his mother in 9/11 a couple of weeks ago? If that’s what you’re thinking, then simmer down. CPAC isn’t for bleeding-edge innovation. It’s for nostalgia, goddammit.

Vance then talked about how no one should ever have believed that “a bat flew into someone’s soup and gave him Covid,” and Cruz suavely cut in to say that CPAC is serving bat soup this year. Ho, ho! What japes! What will ol’ Ted do next — fly to Mexico during a historic snowstorm? Stay tuned!

There was a long aside about how evil Merrick Garland is and how “radical left-wing protesters” protested “violently” against the overturn of Roe v Wade. Vance jumped in whenever he could to back up Ted: Garland “is a disgrace, and needs to go!” He doesn’t care about children — Catholic children! (Not the diabetic ones, presumably, but still! Christians!)

“We’re the party of the people who pay their taxes and raise their children,” Vance added, as opposed to the “elites”. I mean, it’s true that Donald Trump did pay some tax once or twice in his life. But while Republicans like him were spending all their time looking after little Catholic children and making sure taxpayers got what they deserved, Joe Biden moved a “gang of thugs” into the White House! (No, not the actual armed January 6th thugs who stole stuff and attacked Capitol police officers, obviously — the other ones. You know, like judges. And people with medical degrees.)

Cruz cut in to say that JD’s book “described the pathologies that have just been hammering working men and women in this country — not even working men and women, people who are not working”, and something-something opioid crisis. By the way, “this is no longer the party of the country club”. Vance kept trying to say that senators don’t actually do very much work, which surprised him. In fact, he’s spent a large amount of his time as a politician off on vacation time. Cruz smiled tightly and tried to get JD to stop talking so much about that. Instead tell us, JD, tell us about the moral rot. Tell us about how Biden doesn’t care about the “red blue-collar people” (to Cruz’s credit, he only stumbled over this nonsensical-sounding construction for half a second.) Tell us about how I am a man of the people now, too!

JD took the baton clumsily and rambled for a bit about trade deals, manufacturing, weapons and middle-class jobs in Ohio. Cruz quickly added about how he has a history of voting “with the workers” and his friend JD will definitely back him up on that. If the people in East Palestine, Ohio had been “a bunch of transgender tech workers,” then they might have mattered more to Biden, the king of the working class Americans added.

At the end of the session, Vance implored other Republicans in the party not to be so “establishment” in who they choose to back in 2024. Cruz euphemistically added that the GOP shouldn’t be afraid to support people who have “fight” in them. I think we all know to whom these best buddies are referring, and it’s not the kind of Republicans who sign up to Joe Biden’s bipartisan thinking. Bipartisanship is for cucks, anyway, and these guys aren’t like regular dads, they’re cool dads. And they’re out to bring far-right conservatism back into the mainstream. Game on, dude!

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