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CPAC Heretic Hunters On The March

Jonah’s ideological sin was to write a column disagreeing with CPAC’s decision not to invite Chris Christie, because he broke Republican orthodoxy on a few things, or to allow gay conservative groups to come. Excerpt:

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. (He has a 74 percent approval rating in deep-blue New Jersey.) Why? Because, a source familiar with CPAC’s internal deliberations told National Review Online, Christie has a “limited future” in the Republican party because of his position on gun control.

C’mon, really? The man is going to be reelected as a Republican. That’s a little future right there. Also, CPAC is chockablock with speakers who have a limited future — or even a limited past — in the Republican party.

But most important, since when is CPAC an organ of the Republican party? Christie’s future in the GOP is up to Republican voters. I happen to hew closer to CPAC’s apparently official position on gun control than to Christie’s. But I’d love to hear him talk about school reform and his battle with public-sector unions. I’d love to see him debate someone on gun control or on how to cut government spending in a climate where people like Christie are so quick to demagogue crisis-exploiting spending.

Heck, I’d like to hear debates on pretty much any and every issue dividing factions on the right, including gay rights. But CPAC has declared that gay groups can’t even set up a booth this year.

This is insane. At this rate, what kind of national Republican politician who wants to win the presidency is going to want to go talk to CPAC, that claque of conformists? If you have to hew to a rigid orthodoxy in order simply to be considered conservative at all by this group, why bother? It’s hard to see the up side of heretic hunting here. There’s going to be more freedom of thought and ideological diversity in the conclave of cardinals than at CPAC. I think Christie could easily make this exclusion work to his benefit. Sister Souljah CPAC might have just done him a big favor.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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