CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference — is having a tough time. Please the more extreme Right, or work with the “re-branding” efforts, and be more “big tent” in who they invite? They turned away the LGBT Republican GOProud, and apparently the more moderate Log Cabin Republicans, and as a result, Chris Hayes turned down the invitation to be on a CPAC panel. They refused to allow Chris Christie, a decision Charles Krauthammer called a “vast overreaction.”
But CPAC has apparently decided to stay on the further-to-the-Right side of the GOP, even though the criticisms about the exclusionary decisions continue. From Aviva Shen at Think Progress:
The decision to exclude GOProud for the second year in a row has triggered a schism between conservatives who plan to boycott the conference until GOProud is invited and those who believe the group goes against social conservative values.
Shen quotes an editorial in today’s National Review
… noting that the exclusion of GOProud has had ‘a greater downside for CPAC than its past of GOProud ever did’:
‘Conservative opinion on the intersection of homosexuality and politics is not monolithic, especially among the college-aged set that makes up the better part of CPAC attendees. And a gathering that hopes to speak for the conservative movement will be better equipped to do so if it represents the overlapping gamut of views included in it.’
The pressure is also coming from the further Right. Shen writes that
… right-wing columnist Jennifer Rubin, a CPAC sponsor employee blamed CPAC’s reluctance to ‘cross groups that are big sponsors that have said they’d leave if GOProud is ‘in the building.
At Mediaite, Noah Rothman has more.
The iconoclastic conservative columnist S.E. Cupp announced this week that she would not attend CPAC for the first time in years due to their decision to again block the gay conservative groups GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans from co-sponsoring the event.
Appearing on MSNBC on Friday, Cupp explained her refusal to attend the conference this year. ‘It’s just become increasingly uncomfortable for me to endorse an event that is, in some ways, excluding — and, in many ways marginalizing this core group of gay conservatives,’ Cupp said.
And then there is this, from “conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg, “ via Rothman’s article:
‘The problem is that CPAC is the first bottleneck in the Republican presidential pipeline, and at precisely the moment the party should be making every effort to be – or at least seem! – as open as possible to differing points of view, it’s chosen to exclude the most popular governor in the country.’ …
The Struggle to Adjust to a Changing Electorate is on very public display.
This latest clash over conservative exclusion reflects the Republican Party’s new anxiety over outreach to minorities, women, young people and gay voters, all demographics that voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the 2012 election. Still, even GOProud’s defenders have avoided opening debate on real policy shifts. Rubin argued, ‘No one is asking CPAC to endorse gay marriage or any other policy … merely to let gays into the room.’ The National Review also reassured CPAC that including GOProud would ‘not now…imply its endorsement of any particular policies regarding gays.’
Which seems to be the argument that, come on, CPAC, you don’t have to do any crazy liberal thing like actually stand for equality, but at least give a public show of inclusion.
Rothman makes another observation.
… given the willingness of opponents of the GOP and a credulous media to devote outsize coverage to the party’s fringe elements, Republicans have lost a lot of patience for the GOP’s most eccentric members. Enter CPAC, which made news in the last month for all the wrong reasons. … Now conservatives are speaking out against the conference which is being increasingly seen as an impediment to the Republican Party’s effort to regain its national appeal.
Perhaps CPAC needs a panel discussion about GOP history, just for some perspective. Like this, from This Day in Quotes, about a November 14, 1989 moment.
In November of 1989, the first year of George H. W. Bush’s presidency, there were two closely watched gubernatorial elections – one in Virginia, the other in New Jersey.
The Democratic candidates won both races. And, in both campaigns, the candidates’ positions on abortion played a role.
The winning Democrats, Douglas Wilder in Virginia and James Florio in New Jersey, were pro-choice. Their Republican opponents, J. Marshall Coleman and Jim Courter, were anti-abortion. …
When asked what the November 1989 gubernatorial election meant for Republicans, Atwater gave a much-quoted answer … .
‘Our party is a big tent,’ Atwater told reporters that day. ‘We can house many views on many issues. Abortion is no exception.’
Apparently CPAC has “exceptions,” and exclusions, including “the homosexuals” and governors who don’t walk the Right line.
(CPAC 2013 Banner via CPAC)