At some point this was bound to happen.
Libertarian leaning Republicans have been gaining influence in addition to headlines over the last year. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Justin Amash and Mike Lee have brought to Congress a different type of Republicanism. It’s one that’s not afraid to speak loudly, criticize the GOP leadership, and don’t necessarily toe the line when it comes to votes.
Rand Paul made a big splash with his filibuster of President Obama’s drone program which prompted angry responses from fellow Republicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Ted Cruz has ruffled feathers within the halls of the GOP, with his take no prisoners attitude. Cruz just said recently that the GOP is “terrified” of fighting President Obama on the Affordable Care Act.
Mike Lee has been circulating a pledge to get fellow Republicans to sign on to a plan that will not fund Obamacare.
Justin Amash fought a battle to redefine how the NSA can collect data and he nearly won. It was a strange situation, with Amash aligned with fellow House members such as John Conyers while the GOP leadership had Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, join them. The amendment failed on a vote of 217-205 but it was a lot closer than many thought it would be.
These four are going to try their hardest to redefine federalism and limit the power of the federal government.
As these battles have been taking place, sides are being chosen in the political arena. On Twitter, libertarians and conservatives with a libertarian streak have been butting heads with Republicans and conservatives over what is the best strategy for the party to take. Much of it has descended into petty insults and accusations about how both sides are “killing the party.”
It blew up in a big way in the political world when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie opened up with both barrels over this:
The simmering intra-GOP war on foreign policy escalated yesterday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who could face off against Rand Paul in a 2016 GOP presidential primary, slammed the Kentucky senator’s views as “dangerous.” Speaking at a panel of GOP governors in Aspen, Colorado, Christie said the “strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought.”
Asked if he was specifically alluding to Paul, Christie responded, “You can name any number of people and he’s one of them.” He continued: “These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans [of the 9/11 attacks] and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.”
Rand Paul wasted no time in firing back:
In an interview on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, Paul nicknamed Christie the “King of Bacon” after the New Jersey governor accused him of engaging in “pork barrel spending.” “This is the king of bacon talking about bacon,” Paul said. “It’s not helping the party for him to pick a war with me. It’s a big mistake. It’s not very smart. And it’s not a good way to grow the party,” Paul said.
“Why would he want to pick a fight with the one guy who has a chance to grow the party by appealing to the youth and appealing to people who would like to see a more moderate and less aggressive foreign policy?”
Rand Paul was probably happy to see that Ted Cruz had his back:
Appearing on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Monday, Cruz was asked about Christie’s recent comment that the wave of libertarianism sweeping through the Republican Party is “a very dangerous thought.”
“The Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the protection of the civil liberties of Americans, they aren’t esoteric,” Cruz responded. “They’re the foundation of this country.”
What is interesting to me are the people cheering on Chris Christie are some of the same people who were enraged over Christie’s love-fest with Obama prior to the 2012 election and who were further upset when Christie lambasted the GOP house for not passing a Sandy relief bill that was loaded with pork.
That being said, I am inclined to agree with idea that the party needs to take a different direction. While Rand Paul had Ted Cruz supporting him, Chris Christie probably wasn’t thrilled when he turned on his television to find he had Peter King in his corner, slamming Rand Paul.
From a tactical standpoint, I’m not sure it was a smart move for Christie to attack Paul at this time. Paul was already dealing with his own issues. Does anybody remember the name Jack Hunter? Not anymore. Christie made sure that story died a quick death.
That being said, Christie is trying to get back into the good graces of many within the GOP for the reasons I stated earlier. He knows he is headed for an easy victory in November, and it sets up nicely for him in 2016, assuming he doesn’t tank in New Jersey. There are wounds he needs to heal and taking on a wing of the GOP that has caused headaches for many within the party is probably something he needed to do.
The only problem (in my view) is Christie has now cast his lot with the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Peter King and the Joe Scarborough’s of the country. I often watch with amusement as Joe Scarborough and the rest of the Morning Joe crew tear into Ted Cruz whenever they can. Earlier today, they were at it again, calling him a “train wreck” and “ignorant.” It was topped off with Tina Brown calling him the Taliban.”
I’ve come to believe the best thing for anybody in the GOP to do is watch Morning Joe and then do exactly the opposite of whatever it is causing them to shriek as one cannot even keep track of how many times that crew has been wrong on the politics of any given issue.
Still the question has to be asked: Is this a good thing for the GOP to have this debate or does it create more problems by allowing the Democrats and the media to frame it as the “GOP in disarray”? Also, does this faction create an opening for somebody like Marco Rubio or Scott Walker to come in and claim the middle ground between the two sides?
What do you think?