Last week, I wrote a column criticizing the Conservative Political Action Conference for not featuring any panels dedicated to health care. But now, the largest annual gathering of conservatives has devolved into an outright clown show.
For weeks, CPAC has been drawing fire for barring gay conservative group GOProud from the conference and not inviting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a gun control proponent. On Tuesday, the Virginia Pilot reported that the conference didn’t invite Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who recently backed a tax increase.
Explaining the group’s decisions to Jennifer Rubin, conference organizer and American Conservative union chair Al Cardenas said: “We felt that Governor Christie, a crowd favorite at previous CPACs, was not particularly deserving this year. I have said that CPAC is like an “All Star” game for conservatives. Even players that have great careers in baseball don’t make it to the All Star game every year. I hope he earns an invitation next year. But, everyone must keep in mind that we are not the Republican Party — we are conservatives.”
It’s one thing to argue that there’s a strict philosophical litmus test for being invited to CPAC. Whatever one says, at least that would be a consistent position. But it’s hard to square that with the latest news that Donald Trump has been invited to speak at the gathering. For the last several years he’s emerged as one of the most prominent conspiracy theorists questioning the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate and for decades, has been more concerned with creating publicity for himself and his various ventures than advancing any kind of conservative values.
“Donald Trump is an American patriot and success story with a massive following among small government conservatives,” Cardenas. said. “I look forward to welcoming him back to the CPAC stage next week. Mr. Trump’s previous CPAC appearance was hugely popular among our attendees and we expect it will be even more popular this year.”
What accounts for his conservative “all-star” status? How would one account for his following among small government conservatives? Is it his history of eminent domain abuse? Is it his past support for a Canadian-style socialized health care system?
CPAC cannot find time for a dedicated panel on health care, but it manages to find time for a celebrity huckster with no history or knowledge of conservatism. At a time when conservatives are still reeling from Obama’s re-election and in dire need of a serious conversation on the future of the conservative movement, CPAC has become an embarrassment.
(Note: The Washington Examiner has a pre-existing agreement to be one of the roughly 50 sponsors of CPAC.)