C PAC Run

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Memo to CPAC: ENJOY REAPING WHAT YOU'VE SOWN.

It's not easy relying exclusively on straight, white, Christians to vote for you. Actually, let me rephrase that. It has always been very easy to rely exclusively on straight, white Christians to vote for you. The tough part is long-term tenability as straight, white Christians make up a smaller and smaller fraction of the population. Every once in a while, the Republican establishment decides to become aware of this, and that's when you hear them talking about pitching a big tent. Which then causes their base to pitch a fucking fit.

All of which is to set the stage for something hilarious. GOProud got invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference. So did Muslims For America. This is the same CPAC that sells Liberal Hunting Licenses and where Ann Coulter, in one of the least predictive criticisms in right-wing history, called John Edwards a faggot. And this year, they're letting gays and Muslims in.

Luckily for everyone involved, the open-minded attendees of CPAC understand that GOProud is fine with opposition to gay marriage as long as they get tax cuts, and Muslims For America is fine with... actually, I have no idea what they'd be fine with. And their website espouses nothing except being bipartisan and hating terrorism, so that's no help. The point is, both groups were accepted with open arms because, as we've been told over and over again, the Republican Party is not a party of hate.

The American Principles Project, for example, didn't cancel CPAC because they hate gays, they just think GOProud's "purposes are fundamentally incompatible with a movement that has long embraced the ideals of family and faith in a thriving civil society." That's classic "hate the sin, blame the sinner for being antithetical to family, faith, and civil society" hair-splitting right there.

The Family Research Council won't be there either, which means that by inviting GOProud, CPAC has accidentally increased the average intelligence for 2011 by three percent. Concerned Women For America, that freakish harem of Phyllis Schlafly clones, will be washing its hair that weekend as well.

Also out, if you'll pardon the expression: NOM (anti-gay-marriage group the National Organization for Marriage), the Center for Military Readiness (keep gays out of military showers, natch), and a bunch of lesser lights I've never heard of before.

Meanwhile, the invite to Muslims For America has pissed off Frank Gaffney, which means I actually have to support the move wholeheartedly, because Frank Gaffney is a moron and a truly wretched human being, and if the people behind CPAC want to get him frothing at the mouth about how the Islamists are infiltrating conservatism because conservatism is the only thing standing against Islamic conquest, then all I can do is stand back and applaud.

But if the missionary position, lights out, pro-family crowd skip out on CPAC, and the rabid Islamophobic crowd skips CPAC, how can CPAC truly be CPAC? It'll just be a bunch of Club For Growth assholes fighting over who can say the nicest things about Grover Norquist or the meanest thing about cap and trade. It'll basically be the Washington Post editorial page, only more "centrist", because unlike the Washington Post, Bryan Fischer won't come near the fucking place.

And this is just bad for America. CPAC's primary political function, for at least the past six years or so, has been to serve as an analog, warm-blooded RSS aggregator of wingnut crazy. Everyone's there, everyone's watching, everyone's taping, and everyone's talking shit. CPAC is the debutante ball for the ultra-right fever dream, where everyone takes pictures and smiles and nods, and we all look at the pictures and agree that while it's wearing a pretty dress, there's no mistaking the gleam in its eye and the bits of blood and hair caked under the fingernails.

A tame, neutered, half-empty big tent of a CPAC is no CPAC at all.