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A Fight that Had to Happen

A debate that will not only determine the future of the Republican Party, but also have a great impact on who will be the GOP standard bearer in 2016.

by
Rick Moran

Bio

July 30, 2013 - 12:06 am
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On the surface, the Christie-King-establishment vs. Paul-Cruz-libertarian donnybrook that has broken out over the last few days is about national security — specifically, the NSA snooping programs. In truth, national security is but the trigger to a much broader discussion that needs to happen. The fault lines that have developed over the last decade in the GOP have divided the party on spending, taxes, the size and role of government, immigration, gay rights, and America’s place in a changing world.

In short, the Republican Party is in the process of reinventing itself. And the debate now underway between the two dominant strains of conservative thought will not only determine the future of the Republican Party, but also have a great impact on who will be the GOP standard bearer in 2016.

Perhaps the biggest story in Republican politics in 2013 has been the rise of the libertarian right in the Senate and the man who has shown genuine leadership ability in facilitating that rise. Rand Paul has stepped into a leadership void created by the ineffectiveness of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and altered the tone and tenor of Senate debates. The power axis of Paul, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ted Cruz of Texas has given Senate Republicans something they haven’t had in years: voices that speak with a passion and coherence about principles while pushing a recognizable, consistent agenda.

It should come as no surprise that traditional, establishment conservatives would find a way to fight back. But Chris Christie as the messenger? The Northeast Republican has the credentials, but would hardly be the first choice of most establishmentarians. Despite still being mentioned as a possible candidate in 2016, many rank-and-file Republicans have virtually abandoned Christie, given his embrace of President Obama just days before the 2012 election and his apostate views on gun control and immigration reform.

But Christie may not feel he’s dead yet. Speaking at the Aspen Institute on a panel with other GOP governors, the New Jersey governor came down hard on Senator Paul and other libertarians for their opposition to the NSA surveillance programs.

As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought.

Did he mean Rand Paul specifically?

You can name any number of people and he’s one of them. These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.

Accusing the libertarians of being soft on terrorism exposes Paul’s main vulnerability. Indeed, the whole non-interventionist strain that runs through the libertarian right goes far beyond defending civil liberties and envisions a world with a greatly reduced role for America, a reduced military — indeed a revolutionary change in the national-security state.

Christie’s attack was followed by a similar assault from Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a politician desperately looking for an issue to ride to the Republican nomination in 2016.

The New Yorker didn’t pull any punches:

“To me the overriding concern here has to be national defense, national security, and not be apologizing for America,” King said. “When you have Rand Paul actually comparing [Edward] Snowden to Martin Luther King, Jr., or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness. This is the anti-war left wing Democrats of the 1960s that nominated George McGovern and destroyed their party for almost twenty years. I don’t want that happening to our party.”

To accuse Paul of virtually “blaming America first” (and to mention George McGovern in the same breath) is to throw down the gauntlet to the libertarians on issues that have defined the Republican Party for more than 40 years — unflinching support for national defense and a strong, aggressive foreign policy that puts America first.

For the knockout blow, King used the “I” word to describe Paul and the libertarian tribe:

“I thought it was absolutely disgraceful that so many Republicans voted to defund the NSA program, which has done so much to protect our country,” King said. “This is an isolationist streak that is in our party. It goes totally against the party of Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush. We are party of national defense, we’re a party who did so much to protect the country over the last few years.”

What the NSA program has to do with isolationism, King doesn’t say. But if there is anything that is going to keep the libertarians from rising to dominance in the Republican Party, it is the sense that they wish to take the GOP back to the days of Robert Taft and his brand of non-interventionist foreign policy. Taft opposed aid to the allies prior to our entrance into World War II. After the war, he opposed the U.S. joining alliances such as NATO, opposed U.S. participation in the UN, and generally felt that Fortress America, protected by the two great oceans, could afford us the security we needed.

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Top Rated Comments   
Why do we have to choose between Paul/Christie? I personally do not want either to lead the ticket in 2016...Christie is too liberal and Paul's foreign policy opinions are rather screwy. Watch out for a Jeff Sessions ticket with possibly a Ted Cruz-Steve King-Trey Gowdy-Allen West (esque) as VP....KILL AMNESTY FIRST, then win the Senate in 2014, and THEN let's worry about who to run for the White House. Let us all see how these potential candidates perform.

Remember BENGHAZI!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mr. Moran uses the term 'establishment conservative' and I'm not sure what that is or what it means. A much more accurate term is 'RINO' - used to describe the establishment GOP. Of which Mr. Moran has proven on a number of occasions to be a card carrying member. There is very little about RINO's that I would consider as 'conservative'.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"However, it should be pointed out that the last two establishment GOP presidential candidates have had fairly easy runs to the nomination, despite efforts by the Tea Party and its allies to stop them."

And how did that work out in the general elections?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (63)
All Comments   (63)
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It is not possible for anyone who is barely enough of a Republican for a blue state to stand, to be Republican enough to do the country any good in the Oval office.

We don't need accommodation, we don't need moderation--it can't help us.

We need the undoing of the New Deal, the rectification of the commerce clause, and the replacement of the 17th amendment that returns the whole or most of the Senate to the State's hands.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sen. Barry Goldwater (AZ-R) , the "father" of the modern conservative movement, would today be classified as libertarian. But a conservative couldn't win the presidency until Reagan formed a Republican coalition of libertarians, social conservatives, and moderates [Democrat-lite]. Paul & Christie can spar all they like, but don't start a GOP civil war---or Hillary will be crowned empress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"... the last two establishment GOP presidential candidates have had fairly easy runs to the nomination..."

Exactly! We (conservative-libertarians, aka TEA Party advocates) were sold the idea that they were the best chance that the Party had to stay/regain the White House.
Those from the Ruling Class Establishment won't have such an easy time in the future - they'll have to earn their stripes. The Country Class has some new people to look to, and are not going to stand still for the same-old same-old.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good points. The (shameless) sit-at-homes outnumbered the enhanced numbers of LIVs* the Democrat could herd to the polls in 2012. That must never happen again or we are "fundamentally transformed" into a One Party state.
* low-information voters

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Christie should call those widows and orphans and tell them that he wants to use them to make a political point. I'm sure he's man enough to have that conversation...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Neither of these Gents. should win the nomination. If any of them did, they wont get my vote.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Christie mouths off too much. Surprised?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't see either Paul or Cruz as necessarily "isolationist" or "libertarian", but they also are not Big Government Republicans, as are Christie and McCain, which in my view, is the most important, criteria.

We need, at all costs, to get the Federal government off steroids, and out of our daily lives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
criterion (singular)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Like Mark Twain, I want a government that is somewhere to the east and almost forgotten except for tax day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The methods of the president and his buddies Reid, Pelosi, King, Christie (read that list) regarding NSA, Patriot Act, TSA, DHS reminds me of the tactics of some of the nuns I had in grade school. They knew there was a miscreant in their midst and therefore everyone got a whack with the stick. IN a class of about 30 they weren't the least bit apologetic about whacking 29 innocents to get one. If we must, by their reckoning, surrender our basic liberties to secure a tenuous and often suspected as conjured safety then we have undone the American experiment for America's sake. It makes no sense, even for those Republicans with impeccable national security creds. They don't see it and THAT blindness disqualifies them from the conservative camp. The libertarians see it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
But...but...if it will protect just one child....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chris Christie appointed a judge to the Supreme Court of New Jersey with ties to Islamic Jihad. If he doesn't understand the enemy, and that they're trying to infiltrate all aspects of our govt. to commit Jihad from within, how is he going to protect the country? Peter King looks like an "Angry white guy," as the left likes to call them. He's all mouth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no "Establishment Conservative." A Conservative follows the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The "Establishment," are Democrats of yesterday, while the Democrats have been taken over by Stalinists.

I get angry when I hear the establishment try to portray themselves as following in the footsteps of our founding fathers. We all know they would love throwing a net over the entire country and spying on all Americans, and would approve of a govt. run health care program, by not defunding it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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