This weekend, Donald Trump will be headlining Coachella for Insurrectionists (that is, the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference) in his first major public appearance since leaving office. To prepare, his supporters are planning on welcoming him with a very normal and not even slightly terrifying giant gold statue of a smiling Trump dressed in American flag-printed shorts and flip-flops.
In a video that began circulating on Friday morning, two people are seen wheeling out the statue while many supporters clap, take pictures, and shout cheers like, "That is so cool" and "Awesome," which are definitely adjectives often used when describing larger-than-life gold statues of people who have been impeached twice.
The theme of this year's conference is "America Uncanceled," and at least seven panels are devoted to "protecting elections," a call to Trump's false claims that he lost the 2020 election due to voter fraud. Other talks and panels will include "Bill of Rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture," led by Sen. Ted Cruz; Rep. Devin Nuñes' "California Socialism: Promising Heaven, Delivering Hell;" and, a speech called "Protecting Elections Part 3: The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It."
Many anti-Trump Republicans were critical of CPAC's decision to invite him to give a speech, worried that he might be angling towards a 2024 presidential run. American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp defended his decision to invite Trump in a recent NBC interview, explaining that "he just spent 4 years enacting the most conservative policy we've ever seen from any president." However, Rep. Liz Cheney, who voted in favor of impeachment in January, said that she doesn't believe Trump should be playing a role in the GOP's future. Former Congressman Joe Walsh wrote on Twitter that he has spoken at CPAC in the past, but will not return because "conservatives who opposed Trump/Trumpism are not welcome."
Even Mike Pence, who has quietly cut ties with Trump since the attack on the U.S. Capitol, declined to speak at the event. According to USA Today, Schlapp said that this is a "mistake," because "conservatives want to hear his take on the current threats posed by socialism and this radicalized Democrat party."
But the bright side to all the tension around Trump's invitation is that the bizarre gold statue is providing Twitter with prime material.
One of Trump's longtime advisers said that the underlying message of Trump's speech will be: "I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I'm still in charge." Very comforting.
Trump hasn't yet commented on the giant statue, but at last year's conference, he hugged the American flag and said, "I love you, baby," so we can probably expect a similar response this time around. If there's anything Trump loves more than power, it's himself.