All you need to know about why Chris Christie, GOProud, or anyone else isn’t invited to CPAC is that the American Conservative Union’s annual conference is a pep rally. Cognitive dissonance—as opposed to mere cheer contests between different Republican 2016 contenders—would defeat the purpose. Years ago the conservative movement was a place for intense debate, but now that it’s won and triumphantly proclaims every Republican presidential nominee or congressional boss a conservative in good standing, the time for debate is over. Celebrate and march forward—and keep writing checks, please, so the socialists don’t take over.
That all sounds harsh, but movement conservatism is so tied in knots about imaginary menaces and battles never to be won that the appeal of a single weekend of solidarity without the usual sense of crisis should be obvious. CPAC is a place where Republicans are ready for their comeback, where the war on terror is being won (or will be once that comeback takes place), and where Donald Rumsfeld is a defender of the Constitution. Why begrudge a man his fantasy?