David Frum

The Best Dating Advice CPAC Can Offer

02.09.12 8:45 PM ET

What’s the best conservative date? At CPAC, I learned it is going to the gun club. Most girls have never done it, and most guys only think to ask girls to dinner. The gun club is new, it’s exciting, you get a chance to show off your skills, and it takes intense concentration so there’s not much risk of awkward small talk.

After hours of hearing about our nation’s massive debt and its president’s oppressive policies, it was nice ducking into CPAC’s “conservative dating” seminar for a change of pace. I’d heard from a seasoned attendee that the bacchanal of CPAC is the occasion when many young Republicans lose their virginity, and it may be panels, like dating coach Wayne Elise’s, that contribute to the trend. (The panel's description: "Learn everything from how to avoid scaring away your own personal Dagny Taggart in the first five minutes of the conversation, to whether Tea Partiers and Occupiers can share something more than a dislike for bailouts.")

After listening to Rick Perry give a fiery speech about standing up to liberals and re-affirming conservative values, I couldn’t help noticing the stark contrast between the light-hearted dating coach and Perry’s bombastic rhetoric, a gap that revealed a bit of what I find lacking in today’s conservative movement.

“What’s the biggest dating problem conservatives have?” someone asked. “We’re too uptight. We have to go on a date and have fun without smoking pot!” Elise joked.

“Can a conservative have a relationship with a liberal?” The answer: “Don’t have a conservative or a liberal dating style. Focus on what you’re mutually interested in. When you label somebody, you take some of their humanity.”

He went on to say, “What I really want you to take from this is just try to open yourself up. Just because you’re conservative doesn’t mean you have to have a conservative personality. Make fun of yourself, and then compliment the other person.”

Certainly that advice might have come from Reagan as well, but I wasn’t sure I saw it in action when I came back to hear Perry pounding his fist.

Perhaps a different kind of revival was taking place in the back rooms of CPAC, a revival that might be crucial to creating the humanity, humility, and humor needed to create a governing coalition.

Even if not, I did get a few tips I might be able to use this Valentine’s Day.