Jonah Goldberg
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What can you do with a man like Chris Christie?

The answer, according to many with the conservative movement: Throw him overboard. And while we're at it, let's toss the gays over the side too.

The popular governor of New Jersey has certainly angered many conservatives, including this humble scribe. During the crucial final days of the presidential election, Christie didn't merely embrace President Obama, he all but endorsed him.

Then, during the congressional fight over the disaster-relief bill for victims of superstorm Sandy -- a bill with more pork in it than a Jimmy Dean factory -- Christie denounced Republicans who wanted to move the legislation a few micrometers closer to kosher. Christie, who built a reputation as a fiscal conservative, not only didn't care that the relief bill contained, among many other porcine baubles, millions for Alaskan fisheries (which are roughly 4,000 miles out of Sandy's path), he acted as if Capitol Hill Republicans should be ashamed for even mentioning it.

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.

But whatever the strengths of his positions, no one attending this month's Conservative Political Action Conference will hear them.

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.

And that's why CPAC's decision to not invite Christie was probably a mistake. I've enjoyed my visits to CPAC. (Heck, I was named its conservative journalist of the year in 2011.)

The problem is that CPAC is the first bottleneck in the Republican presidential pipeline, and at precisely the moment the party should be making every effort to be -- or at least seem! -- as open as possible to differing points of view, it's chosen to exclude the most popular governor in the country. (He has a 74 percent approval rating in deep-blue New Jersey.) Why? Because, a source familiar with CPAC's internal deliberations told National Review Online, Christie has a "limited future" in the Republican Party due to his position on gun control.

C'mon, really? The man is going to be re-elected as a Republican. That's a little future right there. Also, CPAC is chockablock with speakers who have a limited future -- or even a limited past -- in the Republican Party.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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