The Narrowing of CPAC

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 3 2011 1:59 PM

The Narrowing of CPAC

When he took the reins as chairman of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas said/warned/intoned that there would be a "vetting process" for roles in the next Conservative Political Action Conference. From 2008 to 2010, the conference had broadened its list of co-sponsors and exhibitors, including groups like the John Birch Society and the gay Republican group GOPround. In the run-up to the 2011 conference, organizers had to suffer through teapot-tempest after tempest, most of them due, at least tangentially, to that gay Republican group.

The solution: Kicking out the Birchers and GOProud, which looks to be well underway. Alana Goodman explains the problem with that, but she's late to the game -- Andrew Breitbart seems to be leading a phalanx of left coast conservatives, who celebrated GOProud with a party last year, out of the conference. How many people? I'd guess a minimal amount -- all of them just happen to be extraordinarily good at getting media attention. Ejecting one group from a conference isn't an historic event, especially when you factor in the unique bad blood between GOProud and the ACU board. But it does feel like a reshuffle in the conservative elite. When Barack Obama's Democrats controlled everything, it was all conservatives in the foxhole. Obama looks beatable now, and the GOP House is winning as much as Newt Gingrich's House ever did. The flash of GOProud, with their hotline to Donald Trump, isn't as necessary.

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.