It’s barely been a week since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill allowing businesses to refuse service to gay customers due to religious beliefs.
You will not find a fired-up, conservative backlash at CPAC, the massive gathering of conservative activists. And, in particular, you won’t encounter people cheering over how to fight the latest state actions expanding gay marriage.
Marquee speakers during the first day of the Conservative Political Action Conference avoided the topic of gay rights, or alluded to it by mentioning things like Duck Dynasty, Chick-fil-A, and religious freedom. That’s a contrast from 2013, when a number of speakers mentioned their beliefs in more explicit terms. Marco Rubio of 2013 said, “Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” Marco Rubio in 2014 spoke largely of foreign policy and the American Dream.
Gay marriage could still come up at CPAC, but its not taking center stage thus far doesn’t mean that conservatives don’t largely oppose same-sex marriage. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 67 percent of self-identifying conservative Republicans oppose gay marriage; 53 percent strongly oppose it.
But it’s hard to say how that “strong opposition” translates into action. You can speak with CPAC attendees to get an idea of how activists feel about their party’s discourse on gay marriage, but even that is an imperfect measure. A number said they personally do not endorse same-sex marriage, but don’t want the GOP to focus on the issue, calling it a distraction. Others, particularly younger voters, voiced support for gay marriage while saying it’s a states-rights issue.
And 65 percent of CPAC attendees are under 25, which can help explain why the issue hasn’t come to the fore. “I think the gap is not so much political; it’s becoming more of a generational gap,” says Daniel Bergman, a 20-year-old attendee from New York who supports gay marriage.
“There are issues that affect the entire country, and gay marriage right now is used as a wedge issue for the youth vote,” says Michael Christ, a 20-year-old from Florida.
One sign of changing attitudes is the semi-inclusion in CPAC of gay-rights group GOProud. After years of being officially excluded, members of the group have officially been invited as guests. But they aren’t sponsors with a booth, nor are they hosting a panel. The agreement between the two parties is deliberately low-key.
Conversely, the National Organization for Marriage does have a booth at CPAC, and a number of attendees perused its materials on the first day of the conference, and helped themselves to the swag they offered. But the group isn’t involved with a traditional-marriage panel because, well, there isn’t one. And that has inspired an outcry from some conservative activists, upset that CPAC hasn’t dedicated sessions to abortion and marriage issues. Maybe the big backlash isn’t at CPAC because those who would organize it just aren’t there.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”