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Donald Trump invited to speak at CPAC. Is that a good idea?

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David J. Phillip/AP/File

(Read caption) Donald Trump arrives for the opening ceremony at the Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., Sept. 2012. Organizers announced that Donald Trump will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.

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Donald Trump will speak at next week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Organizers on Tuesday announced that they’d invited the mogul/reality-show host to reprise his 2011 CPAC appearance and that he’d accepted.

“Donald Trump is an American patriot and success story with a massive following among small government conservatives,” said American Conservative Union chairman Al Cardenas in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming him back to the CPAC stage.”

Hmm. Is this really, you know, a good idea?

We can understand why The Donald himself would want to do it. It’s true that his 2011 speech produced loads of publicity. Of course, that’s back when he was toying with the idea of running for president himself, or at least pretending to think about a run for the Oval Office. Any attention this drew to “Celebrity Apprentice” or the various Trump golf projects around the world was purely incidental, we’re sure.

And as a card-carrying member of the mainstream media (non-elite division), we’re overjoyed to link “Trump” and “politics” in sentences once again. He produces controversy as easily as most humans exhale carbon dioxide. Who can forget his proposal to slap a 25 percent tariff on all Chinese goods? Certainly not US retail chains, which would have seen the prices of all their Chinese-made goods go up by the same amount. And remember when he kept challenging President Obama for his long-form birth certificate? And then Mr. Obama broke into the “Celebrity Apprentice” time slot to announce that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden? That’s in the dictionary now as a usage example for “kismet.”

But CPAC snubbed New Jersey’s popular GOP governor, Chris Christie, refusing to extend him a speaking invite. They also turned away sitting Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R).

“CPAC is like an all-star game for conservatives,” sniffed Mr. Cardenas to The Washington Post as an explanation for the move.

Now Mr. Trump? This has driven lots of Republicans in general and conservatives in particular over the edge. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin – who’s feuded with Trump in the past – tweeted: “Womanizing, property-rights trampling, blowhard Donald Trump. Yep, there’s a face that’ll ‘modernize’ the conservative movement!”

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The right-leaning Washington Examiner editorial board weighed in against the pick, writing: “CPAC flouts conservatism’s rich intellectual tradition by inviting such a transparent crackpot.”

And conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that conservatives of all stripes have “launched an assault on CPAC” over Trump, Governor Christie, and Governor McDonnell – and what those choices say to the rest of America about where the right wing of US politics currently stands.

“An older generation, tone deaf and out of step with popular sensibilities, needs to hang it up. Had CPAC been in the hands of young, brainy conservatives, it would be the ‘cool’ club and not a punch line,” Ms. Rubin writes in a post titled “10 lessons from CPAC’s debacle.”

Meanwhile, liberals are making fun of the Trump appearance, though the outrage on the right makes it harder for them to portray the pick as emblematic of the Republican Party. Maybe it’s a rare moment of Washington bipartisanship!

We’d like to add one thing in closing: Many of the critics here may have forgotten that when Trump went to CPAC in 2011, he was booed.

It’s true. During his speech, he noted the obvious point that Ron Paul would not win the GOP nomination and was not going to be president of the United States.

The CPAC crowd can skew libertarian, and the many Paul supporters in attendance didn’t like that. Hence the raspberries.

“I like Ron Paul. I think he is a good guy, but honestly, he just has zero chance of getting elected,” Trump concluded back then.


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