The GOP leadership is engaged in rank ideological policing. Increasing numbers of Republicans are deviating from the neo-conservative platform and Rand Paul is at the top of the naughty list.
The headlines were ablaze last week when the conspicuously rotund New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a 2016 presidential contender, condemned the segments of the Republican Party willing to criticize dragnet NSA surveillance of Americans’ communications and endless U.S. wars abroad. Those are “very dangerous thought[s]” according to Christie. The big man is apparently not shy about accusing people of thought crimes. Reason’s Matt Welch discussed the controversy last week on Fox:
John McCain, the elderly Republican superintendent, threw the first stone back in March when he called Rand Paul and his Tea Party brethren “wacko birds.” Now, in an interview with The New Republic’s Isaac Chotiner McCain says if the 2016 presidential election comes down to Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, he doesn’t know who to vote for.
IC: I want to talk about the Senate. It seems to me that the GOP leadership has been frozen by Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.
JM: I am not sure if it has been frozen, but certainly there is an element in the party that has been there prior to [World War II], the isolationist, America-Firsters. Prior to World War I, it was Western senators, and then Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and then Taft versus Eisenhower. Even Reagan—Reagan’s presidency was perfect without ever a problem [said sarcastically]—there was an isolationist wing that fought against Reagan. And now the bad economy has exacerbated what has always been out there. […]
IC: The GOP leadership—Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip John Cornyn—is from the same states as Cruz and Paul. Is that a particular problem?
JM: Sure, yeah.
IC: When Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul occurs in 2016, I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?
JM: It’s gonna be a tough choice [laughs].
Not only are big name GOPers hurling rhetoric at their Republican contenders (three years ahead of the next election, no less), but there are sinister and subtle forces in the neo-conservative camp launching political campaigns, seemingly with the sole purpose of checking the Republican Party’s (partial) shift away from the national security state. The “warlord” Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick, announced an uncouth primary challenge against a fellow Republican and subsequently had a spat with Rand Paul over it.
Here’s Welch again today on the McCain interview:
It’s important to remember that the GOP interventionists currently gunning for Paul also do not like him because he is serious about cutting all government, not just defense. Recall that National Greatness Conservative William Kristol reacted to the sweeping Democratic victory in 2008 by warning Republicans against advocating limited-government principles in opposition to the big-government president. No really, he did…
…Neo-conservatives are big-government conservatives, period. Libertarian Republicans are the opposite. It’s a stark choice, and given the depth of the interventionists’ commitment to blank-check executive-branch prosecution of war and American hegemony, no one should be surprised by the burgeoning Republicans For Hillary caucus.
Jeeze. I never expected it, but if anything can wither away my wholesale political apathy it’s a fight between one half of the Republican Party committed to war and civil liberties infringements and the other half skeptical of both.