There was a nice CPAC moment at around 3:30 when I visited the Libertarian Party's CPAC booth, just a short walk (past the Townhall.com nook) from the Ron Paul booth built on the ashes of the Mitt Romney booth. The LP was scurrying to deal with all the interest in some alternative party, any alternative party, in wake of the McCain coup. Passersby were taking the Nolan political quizzes and sticking stickers on a chart when they were done. When I got there the chart looked like a feather duster–a thin line of stickers in the totalitarian quadrant, and a line of stickers fanning out to fill the "libertarian" bit of the chart.
"Cool," I thought. Then I realized how self-selected it was. And shortly thereafter I walked over to Ann Coulter's clandestine speech (she was banned from the main ballroom for last year's gay slur against John Edwards) sponsored by YAF and realized that it was really, really self-selected. A terrible Henny Youngman routine in a sound-sucking underground room drew about 9 times as many people who stopped to chat with the LP, most of them wearing "I WANT ANN COULTER" buttons. Even the sweatier, more "seasoned" men. Especially them. They probably hadn't seen so many cameras since their run-ins with Chris Hansen.
So, the key thing about the Coulter speech is that it was barely funny: she thought calling somebody "like David Brock, but with less name recognition" was a killer line. Most of the applause she got was of the "oh-hell-I'm-in-a-room-with-a-TV-star-let-me-put-down-my-cell-phone-camera" variety, and much was stupud. Barack Obama's presidential run was "his biggest achievement since he was born half-black." John Edwards' name was a punchline–especially odd, since I heard something about him leaving the presidential race a week ago. Almost everything else in the speech was an attack on John McCain, and most of the barbs were about mean things he said. He praised Hillary Clinton this one time! He's friends with Lindsay Graham! He doubted the veracity of the Swift Boat Veterans! He voted against the Bush tax cuts, and can't be forgiven for saying he supports them now, even though Mitt Romney should be vice president! (She suggested Romney run as a third party candidate if he's not on the GOP ticket.)
It's an old story now, but the biggest applause lines–not just awkward giggles, but applause–were about torture. Coulter eulogized Rudy Giuliani's campaign, saying that at least he wanted to "torture the terrorists!" Huge applause. McCain was a pansy because he wasn't willing to "drip water down a terrorist's nose."
One of the conservative journalists who skipped the speech told me he treats Coulter the way ESPN treats the fans running onto the field: "Just cut away from her." A good policy, but it would obscure some nasty truths about the young Right.