The Conservative Political Action Conference opens in Washington today and the meeting is not only a stage for controversy this year, the meeting is itself controversial, largely because of a decision to allow the pro-gay rights Republican group, GOProud, to attend and have a booth.
When CPAC first convened 38 years ago, conservatism in America was adrift. Nixon was not their man. Hardcore conservatives had no stomach for the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, or détente with the Soviet Union. And, lest anyone forgot, Nixon proposed universal health insurance reforms too! But, there is a difference between being adrift and being at war, and today there is a brewing, three-sided war within the GOP between social conservatives and libertarians and old-style Chamber of Commerce Republicans.