Why Did CPAC Snub Chris Christie?

If they’re looking for the future of conservativism, what’s Mitt Romney doing there?

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I'm sorry, why exactly has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie been banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC to its friends and attendees)? Why would CPAC want to exclude him? Could it be that the right has gotten so weirdly, short-sightedly venal?

There have been a couple of explanations. First the National Review's Eliana Johnson quoted a CPAC insider as saying that "Christie has a ‘limited future' in the national Republican party given his position on gun control," and that given that this year's focus "the future of conservatism," people with no national future just don't fit in.

Which raises the question: Why is Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC? The right used to debate endlessly whether he had a past in conservatism and I can't imagine anyone, really, sees him as a part of its future.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Or as Hot Air's Allahpundit puts it:

Gun-control is an instant dealbreaker for appearing at CPAC, but developing the universal health care framework on which ObamaCare was based and then refusing to apologize for it isn't? I'm not a fan of O-Care or of new gun regulations, but I know which one I'm more worried about long-term.

Then the American Conservative Union's Al Cardenas told National Journal's Elahe Izadi that Christie was benched because of other issues.

"CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year," Cardenas said. "Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation. This is a conservative conference, not a Republican Party event."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

Which again raises the Romney question—was the four-point popular vote loss an all-star performance or was it the smashing electoral college trouncing? Cardenas points to Christie's accepting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion as part of the reason for the snub (even though, as Allahpundit observes, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is guilty of the same sin) and his support for a $60 billion relief bill providing aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy ... like the residents of New Jersey—Christie's constituents. The truth is that, with some on the right still laboring under the delusion that Romney had a chance until Christie conspired with Sandy to throw the race to Obama, the storm story is probably as close to the truth as we'll get.

And to what end do they snub the Garden State chief executive? Allow me to go for the Allahpundit citation triple crown:

...by making Sandy aid the big peg for excluding him, you're doing him an incredible political favor. ... His whole post-Sandy nonpartisan brand is built on the idea that he's less ideological and just more goshdarned caring than those heartless conservatives in the GOP congressional caucus. And now here's CPAC proclaiming that, indeed, his Sandy relief support is cause for (temporary) banishment from conservatism. He'll be crowing about it for weeks. It's practically an in-kind contribution to his gubernatorial campaign.

[ Take the U.S. News Poll: Should Chris Christie’s Weight Be an Issue?]

What's funny is that it wasn't that long ago that conservatives saw Christie as a savior and pled with him to run for president. Now he is, as David Frum points out, the most popular Republican in the country. But these are conservatives—why would they care about anything so grubby as how to get a large portion of the country to agree with them?