Dr. Robert George on CPAC's Culture Club


Kathryn Lopez on CPAC, sex, and the boycott:

‘Is conservatism a three-legged stool or not?”

In his question, Princeton politics professor Robert P. George hearkens back to the Ronald Reagan–era metaphor for the concept of the Right as an integrated whole of foreign-policy, economic, and social conservatism.

And it’s the question at the heart of a controversy surrounding this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, set to convene next week in Washington, D.C., as it has every year since 1974.

In typical professorial style, George asks the question even though he is confident about the answer. George is the founder of the American Principles Project (APP), which is leading a boycott of CPAC this year. George believes conservatism absolutely involves core tenets about economics, about foreign policy, and about the family. And when a conference calls itself conservative, that should mean “that core social conservative causes — life and marriage — should have the same standing as core economic and national security conservative causes,” George explains.
CPAC, at least at the moment, doesn’t seem to be as sure about the answer to George’s question. And George’s answer isn’t the position of GOProud, which is a participating organization in this year’s event. GOProud is signed up for two of the legs, being “committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy,” according to its website. The organization has just written “crazy social issues” out of what it means to be conservative.

That “crazy social issues” phrase comes from a comment made by its chairman, Christopher Barron, during an MSNBC appearance this fall — and it underscores the reasoning behind the boycott. At best, GOProud is indifferent to the issue of defending traditional marriage; it supports letting the states figure it out. But in practice, GOProud has proven itself to be opposed to the defense — and defenders — of marriage, argues Frank Cannon, chairman of APP. [Continue reading.]