Simon and Leahy: CPAC 2023 Is In The Swamp This Year

Mar 2, 2023

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Roger Simon in studio to discuss Washington D.C. and past CPAC events.

Leahy: All-star panelist Roger Simon is here with us. Roger. A little bit of a programming note. I will not be here tomorrow. Aaron Gulbransen the official guest host will be here.

Simon: Oh, that means I can sleep in.

Leahy: You can sleep in. I know, I know. The official guest host of The Tennessee Star Report will be here. And of course, he’s kind of a political nerd like you and I are. We talk a lot of inside baseball, a lot of Tennessee politics since he’s the state director for the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Tonight I’m making my way toward the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. We are talking about this a little bit off the air. I used to really love the idea of being in and spending time in Washington, D.C. Now I feel as if I’m walking into the camp of the enemy when I do.

Simon: You can look at all those buildings and all those offices. It’s endless blocks and blocks of them, and you wonder what the people do. And in reality, I have it from friends of work for the Department of Justice and so forth, not much.

The amount of featherbedding in Washington is unbelievable. And the fact is that the hostility to Trump, I think, is largely based on that because all those people are afraid that if he gets elected this time, they will be out on their ears.

Leahy: It’s very hard to do. As our original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael points out, one of the biggest problems in America came when John F. Kennedy allowed federal government employees to unionize.

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: And now who’s running the show, I will tell you a little-known fact about my background, Roger. Back in my youth when I was still a liberal Democrat. Yes, I was. If you go to an Ivy League college, you gotta come out as a liberal way back then. But my first job, I worked for an economic consulting firm as a research associate in Boston, and then I got a gig. I had Potomac fever.

I wanted to work in Washington, D.C. I had a teacher who was friends with the assistant administrator at the EPA. I got a gig at the EPA, and I lived in Washington, D.C. for a year and a half. I was a budget analyst in the EPA when Jimmy Carter was doing zero-based budgeting. Do you remember that?

Simon: I remember it very well, because at the same period, I was having a Los Angeles fever. (Chuckles) In those days, even more, than going to Washington, going to Hollywood was a big deal.

Leahy: A big deal.

Simon: Now neither of them should be.

Leahy: I was a low-level Washington bureaucrat federal bureaucrat. I was part of that deep state there for a year and a half.

Simon: You would’ve hated Trump then.

Leahy: (Laughs) A long time ago, but it was zero-based budgeting. And this was the big deal that Jimmy Carter had been promoting, and it was going to be streamlined government. After spending a year and a half implementing it, I never, never became a fan of Jimmy Carter again after that. It was phony.

Simon: He doesn’t have very many fans now. Let’s be honest.

Leahy: By the way, he’s in hospice care. We certainly wish him well. But having said all that, He was a disaster as a president.

Simon: Quite obviously. I remember the gas lines well.

Leahy: And by the way, the fans of Jimmy Carter are happy now because he’s no longer the worst president in American history. Joe Biden is the worst president.

Simon: I thought it was Andrew Johnson.

Leahy: Wouldn’t you say that Andrew Johnson, the Tennesseean, the last president from Tennessee, even though he was impeached and only survived by one vote, I would say, as bad as he was, he was better than Joe Biden.

Simon: I would have to agree. (Laughter) Not that I really know because I wasn’t around then. But being around now, I would imagine so.

Leahy: So I’m going up to CPAC. It’s going to be at the Gaylord National. I’m staying tonight across the Potomac at the $ 100-a-night Holiday Inn. I’m not at the $ 500-a-night Gaylord National.

Simon: I spoke at a CPAC at the Gaylord about 15 years ago. It must have been more, actually, when we were starting PJ Media, that same event, I introduced an awful senator and presidential candidate from Utah.

Leahy: You introduced Mitt Romney?

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: What!

Simon: Very weird. I think back on it, I don’t know why they asked me to do it. I have no idea. But I guess they were hard up. And I spoke just before Rush Limbaugh. I felt very embarrassed the whole time.

Leahy: You addressed the whole big crowd?

Simon: Yes.

Leahy: It’s about like 5,000 people show up for this thing, and it’s sort of a conservative rah-rah thing.

Simon: It’s a good thing if you’re trying to sell a book.

Leahy: If you’re trying to sell a book, good place to go. This probably was 2008, I would guess something.

Simon: Yes. Maybe a little earlier.

Leahy: But you introduced Mitt Romney at the time. He was a Massachusetts guy. He was he running for president?

Simon: He was going to be coming.

Leahy: 2007, probably.

Simon: Yes. 2007. That’s right. My memory is getting very dim here. I actually was embarrassed about doing it.

Leahy: Why were you embarrassed about doing it?

Simon: I was just sort of a newbie on the conservative side really. And still at that point. Now I don’t feel like that.

Leahy: No. You’ve been there.

Simon: I’ve been there for quite a while. I was running a company so it was good for the company and I knew it. Visibility for, for then PJ Media, but then Pajamas Media is now, it still exists. The company I founded then, and the other thing was though I felt like I was a newbie and this, they must have been hard up.

Leahy: You’re very articulate. Oh, Roger, you and I have something in common. We have both introduced Mitt Romney at an event.

Simon: Oh, well, there you have it. I didn’t know that either.

Leahy: So I’ll tell you my Mitt Romney story. This was in 2012. and I had just back selfishly, I’d just, a book I’d written had been Pub, the only book that I’ve ever written that’s actually been published by a real publisher. Covenant of Liberty, the Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, published by our mutual friend, my editor was our mutual friend, Adam Bellow.

So I was beginning this book tour and I had an opportunity to go up to Philadelphia. It’s like the Ben Franklin Museum of Science or something and introduced Mitt Romney to an event where he was, you know, going to be the nominee in 2012.

I had been a Romney delegate in 2008. I thought, well, Mitt, yes. I’m gonna give Mitt this book about the origins of the Tea Party movement, and he’s gonna read it and he’s gonna say, I’m gonna adopt all your policies. (Laughter)

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “CPAC Crowd” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.