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All the Dysfunction, Craziness and Bigotry of the Conservative Movement Will Be on Display This Week at CPAC

This year's crop of speakers includes Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the closest thing we currently have to the re-embodiment of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Photo Credit: A.M. Stan



As conservatives of all stripes gather for the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Washington, D.C.’s Gaylord Resort and National Convention Center, it can be said without equivocation that the run up to the gathering has been just about as dysfunctional as the Republican Party itself.

While rebranding, rebooting, repositioning and the coalescing of the various competing factions within the Party might have been the main order of pre-CPAC business, instead tweets, email, texts, blogs, and radio rants have focused on who has or hasn’t been invited to speak, and which groups have been excluded.

A parade of the usual suspects (Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich), and wannabees (Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan) will grace the stage. NRA President David Keene and its Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre are also scheduled speakers.

The Tea Party’s influence on CPAC will be writ large, according to Devin Burghart, the vice president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. In a piece titled “ Tea Party Dominates CPAC 2013 Agenda,” Burghart pointed out that CPAC13 will be dominated by Tea Party leaders, Tea Party organizations, and Tea-Party-supported politicians.

Just how Tea Party-driven is CPAC13? “Tea Party and Tea Party-aligned groups make up a sizable majority of the partners and sponsors for the event, and a big percentage of the co-sponsors and exhibitors. Four different Tea Party national networks have a presence,” Burghart reported.

Trump trumps Christie

Tea Party dominance aside, much of CPAC’s early tsouris centered on the snub of New Jersey’s extremely popular Governor Chris Christie.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (dubbed “governor ultra sound” by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for his support of intrusive and unnecessary medical procedures) has also been snubbed.

More recently, handwringing conservatives have turned their attention to the recent announcement that Donald Trump will address the conferees.

Al Cardenas, president of the  American Conservative Union, the organization that has been running CPAC for all of its forty years, appeared delighted to have bagged Trump. He wrote that he looked “forward to welcoming him back to the CPAC stage,” saying that Trump's “previous CPAC appearance [in 2011] was hugely popular among our attendees and we expect it will be even more popular this year."

Not all conservatives were enamored by the Trump invite: The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin succinctly described the realty television show host as “a self-promoting and unserious person whose politics can at best be described as eclectic (at worst, unhinged birtherism with a strong dose of trade protectionism).”

There are no ‘gay conservatives’ says right-wing media critic

Even as the tide appears to be turning in favor of including gays – and even possibly supporting some of their issues -- within the conservative movement’s big tent, allowing a gay organization to participate in CPAC is still verboten, as the reliably conservative GOProud has discovered.

While more than 100 prominent conservatives recently signed on to an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid is standing firm in his anti-gay jihad. In a recent column, Kincaid supporting the exclusion of GOProud from CPAC, he argued that, “There is no such thing as a ‘gay conservative,’ unless the term ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning. But there is a homosexual movement that has its roots in Marxism and is characterized by anti-Americanism and hatred of Christian values.”

“Rather than debate whether ‘gay conservatives’ exist or ought to have prominent speaking roles, CPAC should be sponsoring a panel on the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason,” Kincaid wrote.

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