Via Reader that Gay Conservative, we find the Heritage Foundation making explicit what many (including yours truly) believed was implicit in its decision not to participate in this year’s CPAC:
The move, however, has been seen that way by insiders and outsiders, and Heritage — a pillar of the conservative movement — shifted its public stance in a Times article up this evening:
“GOProud was one element in the decision,” said James Weidman, a foundation spokesman.
Heritage, which isn’t primarily identified with opposition to gay rights or with social issues more generally, is the biggest surprise among the CPAC boycotters, and making its move public deepens the rift on the right.
First of all, I’m not sure this deepens any rift. What it really does is expose the me-tooism* of Heritage’s leadership. It seems the leaders of this conservative foundation (as opposed to many (if not most) of the scholars and policy expects who work there as well as those who contribute to their studies and other publications) are eager to curry favor with social conservatives. This may well be a fundraising strategy, a means to distinguish Heritage from the many conservative groups who are participating in the confab.
Whatever the case, this move does not look good for Heritage. Their ever-changing explanations show an organization struggling to appease social conservatives without distancing themselves from more mainstream elements in the Leave Us Alone Coalition. They might better be served by taking part while pointing out that participation in CPAC doesn’t indicate agreement with all the other participants and leave it at that.
Instead, these changing explanations betray a certain insecurity. Perhaps, they realize that in the new media market, their prominence as a large right-of-center think tank alone no longer secures their role a guiding force in the conservative movement as it once was.
This does show that while most groups on the right have become increasingly welcoming of openly gay conservatives and libertarians, there still remain some pockets of intolerance on the right.
*CLARIFICATION: By “me-tooism,” I’m referring to Heritage’s eagerness to join the handful of boycotting groups.
UPDATE: I recently spoke with a DC-based friend who used to work at Heritage; he called the foundation very “donor driven.” I wonder then if perhaps one big donor complained about its participation so the leadership decided to withdraw to appease him. But, then, he wanted the foundation to make clear that it wasn’t participating because of GOProud, so they dispatched a spokesman to say as much.