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February 27, 2013 9:56 AM Christie Dons the Sanbenito

By Ed Kilgore

In case anybody was wondering if Chris Christie’s non-invitation to speak at CPAC next month stemmed from a scheduling conflict, or was merely an oversight that would soon be corrected, American Conservative Union (the group that puts on the event) chairman Al Cardenas spelled it out (via National Journal’s Elahe Izade):

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not invited to speak at the annual CPAC conference this year because he broke with conservatives on key issues over the past year, according to American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas.
Cardenas, whose group organizes the conference, wrote in an e-mail to National Journal that while CPAC was “proud” to invite Christie last year based on his record of balancing the budget and taking on teachers unions, Christie’s record over the past year is far less conservative.
“CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year,” Cardenas said. “Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation. This is a conservative conference, not a Republican Party event.”
Cardenas cited Christie’s decision to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law and his support of a $60 billion aid package for Hurricane Sandy victims, which he argued was filled with wasteful spending.

Cardenas chose a sports metaphor for this action; I guess he’d say Christie is in the “penalty box” or has been sent to the minors for a rehab tour. But I think the better analogy, given the conservative movement’s commitment to rigid ideological orthodoxy and CPAC’s informal role as its enforcer, is to the Spanish Inquisition’s practice of forcing non-capital offenders to publicly wear penitential garment, known as the sanbenito, so that his or her shame would be known to the entire community. Indeed, the conical hat often worn along with the sanbenito may have been the original source of the “dunce cap” worn by students shamed for their ignorance or sloth.

In any event, I suggest this analogy because despite Cardenas’ suggestion that Christie just needs to cool his heels in the anteroom of the conservative movement, at some point, if he wants the opportunity to run for president, he’ll probably have to make a full recantation of his sins, or at least develop a compelling lie about them like Mitt Romney’s agonized effort to distinguish Romneycare from Obamacare. It’s not enough to obey the rules of the “true conservatives.” Those with national ambitions in the Republican Party must also (and often!) sing hymns of praise to the secular faith that must live and reign forever and ever, amen!

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Josef K on February 27, 2013 10:12 AM:

    I shalln't weep any tears should Governor Christie see his national ambitions (whatever they ultimately are) whither on the CPAC vine. I daresay he's done enough damage as it is.

  • ack ack ack on February 27, 2013 10:12 AM:

    'New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was not invited to speak at the annual CPAC conference this year because he placed his constituents before politics over the past year, according to American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas."

    Fixed. Thanks me later.

  • martin on February 27, 2013 10:14 AM:

    “CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes;

    Wow. If true scary. If not true, one seriously bloated ego.

    Personally, it seems a Wrestlemania competition among the pumped up on right wing steroids. Fun to watch, but best to avoid.

  • troglodyte on February 27, 2013 10:21 AM:

    The best strategy for Christie is to wait until 2020. At this rate, the wingnuts will ensure a Dem win in 2016. Then Christie can sing the "Time for a Change" tune with feeling. If running hard against the wingnuts in a losing cause were a strategy for success in the next election, Jon Huntsman would be a frontrunner. Best to lay low in 2016.

  • c u n d gulag on February 27, 2013 10:28 AM:

    “CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes..."

    I, for one, never knew that Village Idiot's fielded professional teams!

  • edenZ on February 27, 2013 10:50 AM:

    Or he could run in 2016 as an "Independent" - the media would eat it up as they love third parties, he would probably attract a lot of $$ from business and non-crazy Republican groups, and would attract all of the non-crazy Republican voters and a good deal of the "centrist" ones as well. If the Dems pick a candidate that is perceived as "super left wing" or one with low name recognition, he could make a credible run.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on February 27, 2013 10:50 AM:

    “CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes..."

    Wow. Not that is funny!!!! More like the all-star dodge ball convention for professional schoolyard bullies. Just a big ol' opportunity to trade advice on the best ways to punch puppies and kick kittens. I can't wait to here what the speaker topics are going to be...

  • JeffInOhio on February 27, 2013 10:53 AM:

    Sarah Palin had an "outstanding year"? Aim low, CPAC!

  • Russell aboard M/V Sunshine on February 27, 2013 11:01 AM:

    “CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year,” Cardenas said.

    So they invited Mitt Romney to speak. He had such a good year.

  • MuddyLee on February 27, 2013 12:11 PM:

    Calling Bobby Jindal: CPAC being "stupid" - No to Christie, Yes to Palin?

    Re Wrestlemania: WWE now has a "tea party" villain so they have been attacked by Glenn Beck (because Linda McMahon is supposed to be a conservative republican?)

  • schtick on February 27, 2013 12:21 PM:

    The good news, the teapub party is splitting into republican and conservative. The bad news, they're both anti-good for the constituents.


    crapcha....health purpocks....and that, too.

  • DRF on February 27, 2013 12:25 PM:

    Interesting. So a speaking opportunity at CPAC is purely a reward for adhering to the organization's party line on all issues, rather than an opportunity for participants to exchange views and learn something from speakers.

    Christie's apostacy appears to consist of two decisions he made, the second of which (Sandy relief legislation) he supported but had no vote on. In CPAC's eyes, these two decisions takes him outside the circle of true conservatives. (Although not stated, I suspect that part of the reason they didn't invite Christie is that he appeared to give some support to Obama at a critical moment near the end of the campaign.)

    Neither of these decisions are inconsistent with conservative principles, except in the mind of those who control CPAC. So long as CPAC and other conservative movement entities actively try to shrink the tent, The Republicans will have a tough time reclaiming electoral dominance.

  • samg on February 27, 2013 1:42 PM:

    “CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year,” Cardenas said.

    Ah, now I understand why Mitt Romney was invited to address CPAC. He had such a good year.

  • boatboy_srq on February 27, 2013 1:56 PM:

    @schtick: I think you just defined ungood and plusungood there.

    Captcha: oomtiJ she,. I suppose I DO need to mention QEotP. That one has more lives than an Umbrella Corp. test subject.

  • Jose Hipants on February 27, 2013 3:04 PM:

    Like the all-star game, nobody cares.

  • Newinfluence28 on February 28, 2013 3:01 AM:

    Al C. said that the Medicaid decision contributed to Christie's exclusion, but that decision didn't come until THIS WEEK, weeks AFTER the speaker invitations to CPAC went out.

    This is ALL about Superstorm Sandy and Barack Obama, but saying that would show just how cynical and petty the exclusion was.