I got a late start on CPAC parties last night, but it all worked out. Ambling over to the lobby, I ran into Amy Kremer, the chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, who was on her way there with an entourage that had an extra taxi van seat.
"What's more fun to cover?" she asked. "Conservatives, or liberals?"
Given the circumstances, it was a loaded question. The Microsoft offices (on K Street) were clearly marked by the company logo and the gaggle of smokers outside. I said hi to Matthew Boyle, the Daily Caller's scoop-a-day reporter, who was all but sure to lose a prize for best investigative journalist to James O'Keefe, and headed inside to the 11th floor. This was a real party.
The 500-or-so guests had made it in. The various name badges -- sponsor, blogger, guest -- were seated in tagles, sorted out by harried, ponytailed security volunteers. After three minutes, first wave Tea Party activist Michael Patrick Leahy, his wife, and I, were clearly no closer to entry. Ali Akbar, the web strategist behind all of this, walked by and issued a command.
"Let everyone in," he said.
We'd arrived during a pause in bar service, as awards were handed out to bloggers. HotAir's Ed Morrissey accepted a prize on behalf of Michelle Malkin, "the best boss I've ever had." Distracted partiers attacked a table of macaroni and cheese, BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, and, to a lesser extent, salad. Sean Bielat walked in with some veterans of the Herman Cain campaign, who introduced their laryngitis-plagued candidate to reporters. Nearby, Arizona Speaker of the House Kirk Adams walked among us, explaining why he was fit to replace Jeff Flake in Congress. I put my coat down, went to the bar, and caught up with a friend from the Heritage Foundation, who pointed out a funny-faced guy behind us.
"Wasn't he in Grandma's Boy?"
Indeed, Allen Covert was in Grandma's Boy. The actor was here promoting Cherry Tree, his line of iPad childrens' books. "I love blogs," he said, by way of explaining why he was here. "I read Ace of Spades every day. Instapundit is basically my newspaper."
Worrying about my bag, I went back to the place I'd parked it. James O'Keefe had occupied that corner, chatting with whatever bloggers came by, joined by members of his Project Veritas journalism project. We talked for a while about the nature of journalism, then got into how irritating it is to have to explain all of one's actions to the Feds.
"I'm a political prisoner," he said. "I've left my home in New Jersey three times in six months. I'm a journalist, and it's completely changed the way I'm able to do my work."
On the way out of the party, I grabbed a goodie bag full of items from sponsors -- an ad for Foster Friess's blog! -- and a letter announcing a new coalition of bloggers, Akbar's attempt to turn BlogCon into merely a party for a permanent organization.
I overheard the last batch of awards being handed out. O'Keefe won the journalism one after all. "Fuck the media!" he said. A cab took me back to the Marriott Wardman, over to a tower suite where One Nation PAC was supposed to be midway through its Scotch and Cigars party. The door was closed; the room was mostly empty.
"They shut us down!" explained Dennis Lennox, the main promoter of the event, dressed to the nines. "We had the room until 10 a.m., and someone -- an angry liberal, I'm guessing -- said they could smell the cigars at the seventh floor." We were on the third floor. Grover Norquist had shown up just as they were texting to warn him. Rep. Mike Pompeo was in the elevator when he heard the news, and fled, not wanting to be part of some real-life Stephen Glass story.
Whatever. There was still whisky; there were still cigars.
Most of my time was given over to Tom Grace, an architect/thriller writer who was excited to find out that he'd be sharing a signing booth with Newt and Callista Gingrich in the morning. He passed me a card for his new book, The Liberty Intrigue, about an unconventional conservative candidate."
"It's a lot like the election we're living through right now -- a strong candidate pokes his head up, Obama pushes him back down," he said. "The difference is that the parties' roles are reversed."