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The Washington Post: CPAC’s Uninvited

CPAC’s unending blunders and missteps are the subject of a snarky Washington Post piece today. Once again, CPAC’s uninvited is making more news than the event itself. The Washington Post is running a piece on the uninvited. Of course, yours truly is number six on the list. Atlas readers won’t be surprised by that.

The Washington Post’s nasty leftist bias aside, it’s a subject worth covering, even if I have little good to say about some of the others on the list.

CPAC represents what is wrong with the right. In what I consider to be one of the biggest missed opportunities, CPAC does not address the most grave threats to this country. Over the past six years, the only CPAC events where jihad and sharia were discussed were events that I organized.

The largely irrelevant organization is driven by Muslim Brotherhood-tied Grover Norquist and his proselytizing partner Suhail Khan. Their longtime chokehold on the ACU has weathered leadership and administration shake-ups.

Last year, there was such an outrage over CPAC’s ban of my event that the then-new President Al Cardenas called me and took a meeting with me before I appeared on the Breitbart “Uninivted” panel. He admitted that where “was a problem” with certain members of the board, and that things would be different going forward. But, of course, they weren’t and they aren’t.

I did those historic, SRO events at CPAC in the hope that the ship would right itself. Education is the answer, and it was critical we  get the word out to the 12,000-plus attendees. But Grover is a formidable and well-financed adversary.

Why should CPAC have me? I am embroiled in three free speech lawsuits at home and two abroad. I have successfully sued and won (with the able legal counsel of AFLC). We have set precedent and written into history good law in the defense of freedom. The first amendment is the foundation of this country and the conservative movement. CPAC’s glaring omission speaks volumes about their agenda.

This year, I won’t be at CPAC. I have been invited to Oz and there I shall be on a speaking tour.

CPAC’s irrelevance and mealy-mouthed “activism” gives RonPaulbots and other saboteurs a priceless opportunity to hijack the event. And they do.

If CPAC represents the future of “the furthest right fringe,” then we have no future. And frankly, what’s so “right” about CPAC?

The Right is on life support when this most certainly should be our issue, our moment. There have been these moments in American history when right and wrong, good and evil were very clearly defined. The Republican party was born at such a moment. We elected Lincoln at such a moment, and we took the country back from the slave party, the Democrats, at such a moment.

We need a moral and rational force to pushback …. “The New Right.” That is CPAC’s opportunity. Instead, it has been snuffed and stifled by the likes of Grover and his body double Suhail.

We need a fierce offensive under a banner of individual rights and morality. I believe such an intellectual movement would seize the collective conscience of this country.

“Didn’t get a CPAC invite this year? You’re not alone” By Jaime Fuller, Washington Post, February 26, 2014

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference has long courted controversy over what its attendees and speakers say. For the past few years, they’ve almost earned more coverage for who they don’t invite to speak or attend — and what that says about the future of the furthest right fringe of the Republican Party.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 11:  Former Governor Sarah Palin greets a supportive crowd on the final day of the 39th Annual CPAC Conference in Washington DC on Saturday, February 11, 2012.  (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin greets a supportive crowd on the final day of the 39th Annual CPAC Conference in Washington on Feb. 11, 2012. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Yesterday, CPAC organizers announced that they had changed their mind about inviting American Atheists to set up a booth at this year’s conference, which will be held March 6-8 at National Harbor. The group’s president said he was “really disappointed, but … not at all surprised” by the reverse of their fortunes. “We were going to CPAC specifically to combat the notion that one must be Christian in order to be conservative. We wanted to bring that to the forefront.”

CPAC has also angered GOProud, a organization for gay Republicans, by not letting them play a role in the weekend’s events … for the third or fourth time. They aren’t alone. Here’s a list of other people and groups who haven’t gotten much love from the American Conservative Union — the organization that sponsors the event.

1. Chris Christie

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie celebrates his election victory in Asbury Park, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, after defeating Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie celebrates his election victory in Asbury Park, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, after defeating Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

 Chris Christie is perhaps the most famous symbolic snub from the powers that be at CPAC. After his well-publicized “bromance” with Obama in 2012, among other policy choices, he didn’t past the conservative smell test. “Governor Christie was invited to CPAC last year [2012] because he did a great job in N.J. facing up to the teachers unions, balancing the budget and cutting debt,” Al Cardenas, chairman of the ACU, told Politico. “This past year he strongly advocated for the passage of a $60+ billion pork barrel bill, containing only $9 billion in disaster assistance and he signed up with the federal government to expand Medicaid at a time when his state can ill afford it, so he was not invited to speak.” Another source told National Review that Christie wasn’t invited because of his stance on gun control, as well as his “limited future.”

Cardenas also said at the time: “Hopefully he will be back in top form next year. We would be delighted to invite him again in that case.”

 He did get invited this year, after a resounding reelection and a new year so far dominated by investigation after investigation into his office — and a few months of debate over whether the man heralded as a very possible 2016 presidential candidate has seen the limits of his future.

 2. GOProud

 CPAC has had a long standoff with GOProud. In 2011, the gay conservative organization helped sponsor the annual CPAC conference. In response, more than 20 powerful conservatives and conservative groups — including the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council — sent the ACU a letter protesting GOProud’s inclusion: “It is necessary for each group within any coherent movement not to stand in diametrical opposition to one or more of its core principles. It is our conviction that the institution of marriage and the family qualify as such principles.”

 ACU chairman David Keene responded: “It’s no secret that some social conservatives are very upset at the idea that there would be any participation by any organization that’s gay, but over the course of the 37 or 38 years that CPAC’s been in existence we’ve had all kinds of people suggest that other people ought to be tossed out. Our mission is once a year to allow social, economic, and national security conservatives to come together.” An editor at Human Events, a conservative online publication, said the controversy was “‘much ado about nothing,’ since GOProud consists of ‘two gay dudes at a booth,'” according to the Atlantic.

 GOProud was not invited back in 2012 or 2013.

 A few days ago, National Journal wrote of this year’s conference, “Meet the kinder, gentler Conservative Political Action Conference.” GOProud was apparently invited back to the weekend’s festivities, and Ross Hemminger, one of the organization’s heads, said “People are beginning to ask me why I’m a gay Republican less and less, which means we’re successful. Things really are changing.”

 However, GOProud was not invited to sponsor the event this year, and will not have a booth — although it didn’t ask for these things either. A few days later, one of the founders of GOProud —  Chris Barron — resigned from the organization’s board, telling the LA Times, “It’s completely and totally disingenuous to pawn off an unconditional surrender as a ‘compromise.’ ”  Barron went on: “The rest of the country has moved so far beyond this. In a way, it’s even insulting that we’re having a discussion about if a gay group can be a sponsor of an event. It’s why I’m so disappointed to see the current leadership at GOProud willing to essentially be the stooges of the anti-gay folks who are running the ACU board.”

 3. The John Birch Society

 The John Birch Society represents the outer edge of the conservative outer edge of the Republican Party. Its libertarian philosophy is summed up in its motto as “Less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world.” Over the years the group has been associated with a strong anti-communism message, a steadfast belief in a constitutional republic and a general distrust of the United Nations.

 The John Birch Society has sponsored several CPACs — and had booths set up at the event as recently as 2011. National Review wrote  at the time, “We have no idea what the ACU is thinking but assume that the Birchers are eager to ferret out any Communists in its ranks.” The Birchers were supposed to sponsor CPAC in 2012. CPAC decided, after a bit of backlash, that it would rather not be affiliated with the group anymore.

4. John McCain

U.S. Senator John McCain gestures during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 24, 2014.                                                               REUTERS/Ruben Sprich (SWITZERLAND  - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

John McCain makes his point. (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

 In 2001, when the Arizona senator was pushing campaign finance reform with Russ Feingold, he was not invited to CPAC, which “regarded him as the most dangerous Republican apostate in the Senate,” according to the Washington Times. According to a survey conducted at the event, 53 percent of attendees disapproved of McCain. “When you compare these numbers with the image conservatives had of John McCain three, four and five years ago, one has to say he is a man who worked hard to get to where he is today,” said David Keene, ACU chairman at the time.

Three, four and five years later, conservatives hadn’t changed their minds. During his speech at CPAC in 2008, months before he lost his final presidential campaign, he was booed.

 5. Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell

FILE - JANUARY 21:  According to reports January 21, 2014, Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell are being charged in federal court with receiving illegal gifts while in office. LEESBURG, VA - AUGUST 15:  Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) speaks during a battleground preservation announcement at Ball's Bluff State Park August 15, 2013 in Leesburg, Virginia. McDonnell, who has recently repaid more than $120,000 in questionable gifts and loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, announced $2.2 million in grants to help protect 1,265 acres of land on 13 Civil War battlefields.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In 2013, Bob McDonnell was not invited to speak at CPAC, apparently because he supported a $3.5 billion budget for infrastructure spending in the state, which resulted in tax increases and fees. He was, however, still the keynote speaker at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Prayer Breakfast that year. His attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who lost a bid to replace McDonnell last year, gave the opening speech at CPAC in 2013. McDonnell, who has been indicted on corruption charges in Virginia, has not been invited to speak this year, either.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.04.04 PM

6. Pamela Geller

 In 2013, Pamela Geller, a conservative activist perhaps most famous for her opposition to the “Ground Zero Mosque,” was not invited to speak at CPAC, where she had often served on a panel. Her response?

“As you know I’ve always held events there even though I wasn’t warmly welcomed because of the influence of what can only be described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives like Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist. … That is effectively what they’re doing, they are enforcing the Sharia.”

 

It wasn’t the first time she had spoken unkindly about CPAC. At a D.C. screening of  “The Ground Zero Mosque: The Second Wave of The 9/11 Attacks” during CPAC weekend in 2011, she said the event had been “compromised by Muslim Brotherhood activists.”

 7. Sen. Mel Martinez

 The year 2007 was the first year CPAC didn’t invite the current chairman of the Republican Party — Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida — to speak, a fact that got cheers at that year’s conference.

 8. Pat Buchanan

 According to the Washington Post’s coverage of CPAC in 1985, Pat Buchanan, Ronald Reagan’s director of communications, was the rock star of the weekend:

 The new White House director of communications was Mr. Popular at last night’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) dinner. Of course, mention of Goldwater’s name was a sure applause getter, and at Reagan’s arrival the 1,700 conservatives in the Sheraton Washington Ballroom just about went crazy.

But a smirking Buchanan, his black hair as shiny as ever, got the kind of shrieks and applause that suggested he had surpassed the rank of hero and had achieved the cherished station of Conservative Symbol.

 By 1996, David Keene was calling him “a disquieting figure.” In 2000, 67 percent of CPAC attendees disapproved of him, and he wasn’t invited at all the following year.

 9. Newt Gingrich

 Newt Gingrich, who had just finished up his tenure as speaker of the House, was not invited to speak at CPAC in 1999. Then-ACU chair David Keene said, “Gingrich was a peculiar figure. You could never tell when he’d drift off into the Twilight Zone.” People who did attend, according to The Washington Post: “presidential hopefuls Dan Quayle, Steve Forbes and Lamar Alexander; morality czar Bill Bennett; and crowd favorites Jeane Kirkpatrick, Oliver North and Charlton Heston. The Hill was represented by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Sens. Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft, and Reps. Bob Barr, Helen Chenoweth and Tom “the Hammer” DeLay, last night’s keynote speaker.”

 In 2006, conservatives resumed eating up Gingrich’s speeches.

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