Getting snubbed by CPAC is the new getting invited to CPAC. Chris Christie's showy non-invitation to the Conservative Political Action Conference (in D.C. next weekend) did the impossible and made him even more of a centrist here. Now it's the other Class of 2009 governor's turn.
Virginia's popular Republican chief executive won't be at the annual event set for March 14-16 -- he wasn't invited to this year's forum after being asked to attend the past two years. However, McDonnell will be in the nation's capital region for another conservative event next Friday: The governor is the keynote speaker at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Prayer Breakfast that morning.
McDonnell was uncontroversial among conservatives until the last two weeks, when he endorsed and signed a transportation bill that raised taxes. That earned him unending ire from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist is on the board of the American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC. But he says he didn't block McDonnell. "I'd have been cheerfully telling everyone he was bounced because of the transportation bill if it was true," he says, "but that's not what happened." McDonnell was left off the speaker's list long ago. "Hopefully when he shows up to Faith & Freedom they'll be laying hands on him to see if they can heal him of his sudden tax hike affliction."