CPAC’s inviting GOProud to participate again would not now, as it did not at earlier conferences, imply its endorsement of any particular policies regarding gays, just as CPAC’s invitation to Chris Hayes to speak on a panel does not imply its endorsement of MSNBC. Speaking of Hayes, his rebuff of CPAC’s invitation — lodged as a protest against GOProud’s exclusion — has probably had a greater downside for CPAC than its past inclusion of GOProud ever did. Conservatives rightly lament that pro-life Democrats are regularly marginalized in the various organs of the Left. This marginalization rarely breaks through into the mainstream narrative about the Left. But conservatives are not so lucky, and the present case perhaps unjustly, but nevertheless needlessly, fuels a narrative of marginalization on the Right.
The matter of Chris Christie is somewhat different. CPAC’s exclusion of Christie was not an act of commission but rather one of omission. And while the New Jersey governor is certainly not entitled as of right to speak at the conference, we fear the decision not to invite him to do so is illustrative of a potentially unhealthy trend. Organizers told National Review Online they were displeased with Christie’s restrictionist views on gun control and felt he had a limited future in the national party. We, too, have concerns about the governor’s views on guns — and on other issues — but those concerns are tempered by our respect for his handling of New Jersey’s finances and his reining in of the public-sector unions, which for decades had a vice-like grip on Trenton. Our approach has been to praise those of Christie’s policies that we think judicious and wise, and to criticize those that we think provocative and unwise. We do not think the latter requires reading him out of the conservatism movement or the Republican party.