A Less Libertarian CPAC In The Future?
The new Chairman of the American Conservative Union seems to want to mend fences with social conservatives, even if that means throwing new friends under the bus.
The new head of the American Conservative Union seems to be inclined to move away from the direction that the group, and its signature event CPAC, have been moving the past several years:
The new chair of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, today distanced his organization from GOProud, telling FrumForum in an exclusive interview that “it’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship” with the gay conservative organization.
The ACU, which annually organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference, has faced some criticism for including GOProud as a co-sponsor for the second year in a row. Socially conservative organizations have denounced the move, and the Heritage Foundation claimed that GOProud’s inclusion was part of their decision to opt-out.
Cardenas, who was selected yesterday to replace outgoing chairman David Keene, told FrumForum that he disapproved of GOProud’s response to the furor.
“I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable. And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things,” said Cardenas.
GOProud had asserted that Cleta Mitchell, the chairman of the ACU Foundation, was pushing conservative groups and individuals to boycott CPAC because of GOProud’s inclusion. Chris Barron, the chairman of GOProud, recently said in an interview that Mitchell was “a nasty bigot.”
“It’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship [with GOProud] because of their behavior and attitude,” Cardenas told FrumForum.
Barron later retracted his statement about Mitchell and issued an apology:
“For the past six months, we have watched as unfair and untrue attacks have been leveled against our organization, our allies, our friends and sometimes even their families. Everyone has their breaking point and clearly in my interview with Metro Weekly I had reached mine. I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell and for that I apologize.”
Nonetheless it seems clear that while Cardenas does believe in the idea of a “big tent” approach to conservatism and CPAC, it’s clearly a different kind of big tent:
“There are not enough African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities here. That diversity is critical – you don’t need to change your value system to attract more diversity into the movement… [but] I’m not going to – for the sake of being inclusive – change the principles that have made the movement what it is,” said Cardenas.
“David [Keene] invited these folks [GOProud] in an effort to be inclusive… Having friends of ours leaving… presents difficulties to me,” he said. “There’s always going to be some tension, [but] there should never be any tension between time-tested values.”
Asked if someone who supported gay marriage could be a conservative, Cardenas replied, “Not a Ronald Reagan conservative… I will say this: we adopted a resolution unanimously at ACU advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, so that answers how we feel on the issue.”
Cardenas says that his priorities as the new ACU chairman will be focused on “making sure that our true friends never leave the table.”
This seems to be a clear signal that Cardenas wants to mend fences with the social conservatives who have boycotted CPAC over the past two years because of the presence of GOProud, even if that means throwing gay conservatives and libertarians under the bus. Considering that the last two years at CPAC have been some of the most successful ever thanks to the presence of groups like GOProud, and the Ron Paul crowd, that makes it seem like Cardenas is really looking top make conservatism a smaller, more ideologically rigid tent.
That doesn’t strike me as politically smart in the long run.
Update: With regard to Cardenas’s comments about gay marriage, Allahpundit makes this point:
If Cardenas is all about time-tested values, what’s gay-marriage supporter Dick Cheney doing there?