WASHINGTON, D.C.— There was a line winding out the door of the Marriott Ballroom at CPAC for the bulk of the afternoon today, and it consisted mostly of bright-faced college kids. They were wearing dinner jackets and pencil skirts and toting bags full of free pens and pamphlets and souvenir T-shirts. Sarah Palin will speak at 4:30 today, and they wanted to make sure to get a seat.
But it was only 2:30. Inside the ballroom, there was a panel underway [sic'd]: "Why Am I Living in My Parent's Basement? How the Obama Administration's Policies Are Detrimental to Young People."
Out of curiosity, I polled the line. I was wondering, given the ominous tone in the ballroom—"We want to escape mom and dad's basement," Abigail Alger of the Leadership Institute told the crowd—how many of the Young People in attendance had actually resorted to subterranean dwelling.
I am relieved to report that no one I spoke to had been sequestered underground, even in this economy. Most laughed, and said no, they were not living in a basement, and never had. Most, in fact, were living in dormitories in college, where they were happy to be above ground.
"No!" they said, one after another, laughing slightly.
"I'm on the second floor at Salve Regina," one woman told me. "I don't believe in basements," her classmate chimed in. "Never have, never will," said another.
I traveled down the line, checking in with small groups of Young People as I went. A foursome from Palm Beach Atlantic University stared at me silently for a long moment before a young man broke in: "We're college kids, so we have dorms."
I wondered if Palm Beach Atlantic had any basement dorms. "Not that I know of," he said, looking perturbed by the thought.
"I don't think my dad would let me move back home," said a male student from Catholic University.
"Oh, mine either," said his friend. "He'd say, 'Oh, that's why you went to school.' But I'll absolutely have a plan senior year. I want to do lobbying."
"I'm going to go to grad school," said another.
A single student admitted to having lived in the basement at his parents' house in high school. "The basement was very nice, though," he assured me. "It was very comfortable."
Rebecca, the only senior in the Palm Beach Atlantic group, said she would go back home after graduation—but not to a basement. She would definitely not be living in a basement.
"I'm from Orlando, so I'm gonna go back to Orlando," she explained. "My major's marketing, so I'd like to work in advertising with my dad, either with the Disney cruise line or Universal Studios.
"He has work connections," she added.
"I'll absolutely have a plan by senior year," said a sophomore from Patrick Henry College. "I'm not living with my parents, ever."
Only a single Young Person, a student at Hofstra, said he actually planned on moving home after college. He was not ashamed.
"I'm definitely living in my parents' basement," he said. "Why not? You save money."