Ann Coulter Not (Officially) Invited to CPAC 2008
I’ve been invited once again to be an official blogger at CPAC, the premier gathering of American conservatives sponsored by the American Conservative Union. I’m swamped with a project at work but hope to be able to make it to a few sessions; thankfully, it’s only a couple miles away from the office.
Among the speakers on the conference agenda are President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and all four of the remaining Republican presidential contenders. Surprisingly, a person not on the list is Ann Coulter, a regular headliner who has been given a prime speaking slot the last several years.
As many will recall, Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” at least year’s convention, prompting condemnation from the presidential candidates who had attended the invention and a letter from the official bloggers urging ACU not to invite her back in the future.
Justin Elliott of Mother Jones interviewed ACU president David Keene about the decision:
“We just decided that, given the agenda and all that we had going on this year, there was not a reason to invite her.” Asked if the decision was related to the uproar Coulter’s remarks caused last year, Keene demurred. “The cosponsoring groups decided she was not high on their list,” Keene said. “She wasn’t suggested this year. That doesn’t mean she won’t be invited again next year.”
As I learned yesterday afternoon via a CPAC bloggers listserv, Coulter will in fact be around CPAC, attending an invitation-only event sponsered by Young America’s Foundation and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute at the Omni-Shoreham, the conference hotel. Elliot suggests this is hypocritical and quotes someone claiming that CPAC was essentially organized around Coulter’s speech to let attendees go. The problem with that, though, is that there’s pretty much always an end to the formal festivities at 5 to allow various pre-banquet cocktail parties sponsored by various groups to take place. One of those is a CLP Reception which will host a Coulter book signing.
Is CPAC having it both ways? To some extent, yes.
Declining to give Coulter the CPAC microphone is a commendable move. Would I have preferred that they also declined to allow affiliates to sponsor her book signings? Or at least keep said event off the official schedule? Sure. But Keene is in a tricky position.
CPAC’s attendees are overwhelmingly very young — college kids and others in their early 20s. Coulter is undeniably appealing to that group. Indeed, her red meat, bomb throwing style would have been much more appealing to me twenty years ago. Many of these people are traveling across to country to see and hear all the famous conservatives that they usually only get to see on television. They’d have been very disappointed to miss out on one of the biggest stars.