Jonah Goldberg’s Nonsense on CPAC

March 2, 2013

Glenn Reynolds excerpts a portion of a Jonah Goldberg item on CPAC and encourages readers to take in the rest. One most certainly should. If I had to describe it I’d say it’s feel good pop culture nonsense for conservatives intent on losing principled arguments.

The sociology of CPAC is hard to describe to people outside the conservative movement. In a sense, it’s the Comic-Con of conservatism, overflowing with stalls and barkers like a Middle Eastern bazaar. It also serves as a de facto political convention for the ideological base of the Republican Party.

Take these bits below from Goldberg for example.

During the crucial final days of the presidential election, Christie didn’t merely embrace President Obama, he all but endorsed him … Christie denounced Republicans who wanted to move (pork laden) legislation a few micrometers closer to kosher …  Oh, and he parroted the gun-control line and flip-flopped on accepting a federal bribe to accept Obamacare funding to expand Medicaid. Now, in fairness, Christie has his reasons for doing all of these things. Some are pretty defensible, others far less so.

How does it advance conservatism, not the GOP, if CPAC, which Goldberg calls “the first bottleneck in the Republican presidential pipeline,” to help advance some next John McCain or Mitt Romney wannabe? The fact is, it doesn’t. All it advances is Goldberg’s ability to feel good about himself, or perhaps less embarrassed to call himself a conservative. He could always stop and go for Republican, you know. Heck, it may even be more honest for all I know.

And there’s more silliness I’d describe as shallow thinking from Goldberg. Does any serious conservative believe conservatives have effectively conveyed to the GOP that we’re holding the line on anything? Former Bush adviser Ken Mehlman and others are leading a GOP effort in support of gay marriage. I don’t object to that and wouldn’t denounce a Republican for that. I think advocates for the issue will likely win out one day, even if I still have genuine concerns on how it impacts the concept of the family. But what is in it for CPAC and many conservatives to take up that issue? Nothing, frankly.

It’s quite possibly one best avoided, which does not necessarily mean it’s one to be opposed. In some cases, what a movement doesn’t engage on can be more effective and healthier for it, than what it does choose to actively engage on. What good would it do CPAC to antagonize many long-term supporters on behalf of some vague notion of new supporters that will likely never materialize. Sorry, but those are issues for serious people to consider, not people more interested in some passing pop culture icon-ism.

Some will no doubt see this as CPAC bravely holding the line. But it reads to many in the public as a knee-jerk and insecure retreat at precisely the moment conservatives should be sending the opposite message. Maybe the near third of young Republicans who support gay marriage are wrong, but CPAC won’t convince them — never mind other young voters — of that by fueling the storyline that conservatives are scared of gays.

Such a move would likely cost CPAC and the GOP’s more conservative wing social conservative support. Now I’ll admit to not always being a fan of strident social cons, believe me. But will embracing GOProud, or Gay marriage as an issue somehow balance out much needed support being put at risk? No, it won’t and it’s most likely an issue that CPAC should just avoid altogether. Since when did CPAC become the civil right’s movement, tasked with its charge and not the advancement of conservative principles as defined by a majority of grassroots conservatives – not editorialists at NRO, of all places, for heaven’s sake?

As I said last night on Twitter, not embracing an issue does not automatically equal opposition. Like it, or not, not every issue is a good one for any movement and I doubt there will be anyone at the door at CPAC asking attendees about their sexual preferences. There is no ban on Gays at CPAC, so far as I can tell. That would be something worth fighting against.

Furthermore, the Gay lobby isn’t going to suddenly embrace conservatives as heroic, or their champions. And they’ll continue to undermine seriously conservative Republicans at the national level just as they do now. Oh, but Jonah Goldberg will get to feel enlightened and some will feel good about themselves as conservatives, so CPAC should embrace it and risk losing more support than it could ever hope to gain from it.

If anything, the feel good pop culture position on serious issues tends to weaken a principled conservatism, not strengthen it – no matter how many books it sells, or how much easier it makes it  for someone to build a career because they’d lose too much cache if they simply called themselves a Republican, instead of a conservative.

via Instapundit » Blog Archive » JONAH GOLDBERG ON CPAC

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  1. Ragspierre says:

    I think the ACTUAL point of Goldberg’s piece is that we should be inviting a healthy debate on various issues.

    Which I am fer.

    That ain’t a “feel good pop culture position”.

    It is a position you take when you trust the power of your own ideas.

    As to Christie, nobody will ever mistake him for a conservative ever again.

    And this is why I militate against the stupid term “rino”. Christie is a Republican. I am a Conservative. I don’t get to gate-keep who gets to call themselves something they ARE in their own group.

    • Fred Beloit says:

      I have often used the term RINO in the past, but your point is logical.

    • Anony Mousest says:

      “As to Christie, nobody will ever mistake him for a conservative ever again.”

      Ann Coulter might.

      • Ragspierre says:

        Dunno. I think she confuses him for someone who could win as POTUS…a whole OTHER mistake.

      • SideshowJon says:

        Coulter is a Republican, not a Conservative. Her popularity is based on the same thing as Christie’s; being willing to curse people out and not caring about the consequences.

        • Ragspierre says:

          Coulter has done more in a month for the right side of the political scale than you’ve ever done in your life, cat.

          She may have some screwed up ideas occasionally. We all do, time-to-time.

          See Reagan, Ronald.

    • Cris says:

      You seem to be missing an important detail in your over-the-top hatred for the term “RINO”. Do yourself a favor and read the founding principles, as well as, the current principles of the Republican Party. These principles are 100% conservative as conservatism is define today. Hence, if an elected politician runs as a Republican but refuses to honor his party’s formal mission statement, he is a RINO. How would you choose to delineate him from other Republicans who stand up for the principles of their party? You sound like a PC liberal who is afraid to hurt the feelings of someone (who in order to get elected) lied to the voters . I haven’t closed the door on consideration of your sentiments, I’m just interested in hearing what your believe is a better term to use when referring a “Democrat Light” Republicans. Please, do tell.

      • Ragspierre says:

        COIN (conservative only in name ).

        Learn some history. Many prominent Republicans were ALSO Progressives.

        Nixon was no conservative…rather the contrary, and a big fan of fascist economics like Obama.

      • Ragspierre says:

        So, are YOU a Republican?

        ‘Cause IF you are, you have some right to bitch about who’s in your party.

        Not being a Republican myself (Conservative for some decades), I don’t, and I sure can’t tell people who may identify as Republican.

        You can be as stupid as you wish in the names you call people. Up to you.

    • David hill says:

      If the democracy is to survive there will be a counter balance against a two party
      united ideology.

  2. Louis Grue Jr. says:

    That was a great piece on CPAC and gay rights. I hope people get your message,
    CPAC should just drop the gay thing which is personal and concentrate on more important issues like getting this country back working again. Gays will do their thing no matter what. It’s biological. What is, is !!!

    • Ragspierre says:

      But you sort of (maybe intentionally) miss the point.

      I don’t give a flip what gay people do in there personal lives.

      I DO care when a minority of militant gay people demand a corruption of an extremely important cultural norm.

      Civil unions: swell.

      Marriage as a concept should be built up, not torn down. It isn’t like we don’t have a very clear history showing that playing with the concept of marriage and family has devastated millions of lives over the last decades.

      • SideshowJon says:

        I think gays who want to get married believe they will uphold what marriage is. They’re not trying to tear it down, they’re trying to participate.

        • Ragspierre says:

          Bull. They are militating for a fundamental change in the meaning of the term “marriage”.

        • mark81150 says:

          No… it’s nothing to do with building marriage up, what it is, is extremists going after one more tradition so as to give the general public the middle finger salute.

          If you listen to them when they make their demands, it’s not about being the new “normal”.. but about like Obama getting in peoples faces for the high crime of non-pop-liberal thinking. Sorry, everything about the gay agenda is about offending traditionalists as much as possible..

          Even if they get this after decades of schools indoctrinating the young, they’ll still not be happy..

          They’ll just find another scab to pick and infect.

  3. Dmart81 says:

    Jonah’s article should be called Please Pass the Appeasement

    • SideshowJon says:

      Appease who? CPAC acting like Gays all have cooties plays right into the Left’s talking points, and does much more to “appease” the militant Gay Left than letting GOProud participate.

      • mark81150 says:

        Oh please.. like it matters what we do or say to the left wing media.. yes or no.. they still call us bigots and hate mongers.. and I personally don’t care who they invite,.. God knows there are huge fights between social conservatives and the hardcore Libertarians anyway.. there is a vastly broader range of thinking in the GOP than anything the democrats have permitted since the 1920′s..

        I have no issue with GOProud, they aren’t hateful like the left’s groups.. but having a food fight over who the hosts of CPAC choose to invite justs prolongs the issue for the MSM to drag this smear job out.

        They have the same rights as anyone.. but marriage?.. no, they can’t have that one..

        Many of us have no problem with tolerance, but distorting marriage for a big fat gay feel speacial look at us aren’t we so .. extra super normal now moment.. is setting a torch to a thousands years old tradition just for the sake of a miniscule minority which mostly could care less.

  4. George Sweetapple says:


  5. George Sweetapple says:

    OK. as a democratic union member and a professional, I have to say that you conservatives, or republicans or whatever you choose to call yourselves, sound like a bunch of bigots, and homophobes.

    Thousand year institution of marriage? I am sure that two gay people can raise a child better that many of the married straight people.

    I think most of your aren’t grounded in reality that well.

    CPAC is a joke, and all of you are on the losing side of history.

    • Louis Grue Jr. says:

      OK, one question ! How many of you same sex married men or married women can produce a child with your mate ? I know the answer, The answer is NONE ! Therefor
      It can not be a marriage. It’s nothing but a political stunt Period !! Get a life !