For conservatives, CPAC has been an occasion to anoint new Republican standard-bearers and reaffirm old ones. Marco Rubio became the right's newest darling with his fiery speech, and Mitt Romney's caustic address won him some points among skeptical conservatives.
CPAC has also been a hotbed for a favorite pastime of the right: Obama-bashing. Between Rubio and Romney's repeated jabs at the president and author Jason Slattery's racially stereotyping screed, many speakers at the conference have eschewed policy discussions for personal smears. Even-handed ABC blogger Rick Klein argues CPAC attendees have been united by anger, not by any single conservative figure.
The speakers' anti-Obama vitriol drew the ire of right-wing titan Bill O'Reilly, who regularly bashed liberals for their personal takedowns of President Bush. While O'Reilly has criticized many of Obama's policies--and praised the spending freeze--he had little patience for "cheap" personal attacks, especially when they overshadow the real purpose of CPAC.
If CPAC makes a weekend out of bashing Obama, it will be making a big mistake. In order to regain power in America, conservatives must come up with solutions to complicated problems. And that's what they should be doing at the Washington convention.