Christie vs. Paul

There are a number of divisions within the GOP today, many of which are more about strategy than substance. For instance, Karl Rove is trying to get the party to avoid nominating more people like Todd "legitimate rape" Akin for office, not because he has any particular disagreement with what those people would advocate if elected, but because he thinks they tend to lose. Other forces within the conservative movement believe that the best thing is always to support the most conservative candidate, and now regard Rove as a squish who has betrayed their cause.

But there is at least one rift in the GOP that is based almost entirely on a substantive policy disagreement: the division on national security matters between the libertarians (or sometime libertarians, anyway), who are troubled by Bush/Obama policies on things like drone strikes and surveillance of the American population, and what we might call the neocons, those who are just fine with everything that has been done in the last decade in the name of fighting terrorism.

Speaking yesterday at the Aspen Institute, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, declared firmly which side he's on. Calling the very debate over the balance between privacy and security "esoteric," Christie said, "this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought." And what of those who feel the government has gone too far in invading Americans' privacy? "I want them to come to New Jersey," Christie said, "and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation."

That's just about the most demagogic argument you can make, though it's a bit too generous to call it an argument at all. Not only that, it's condescending to those families in its assumption that because of their loss and pain, they would want the most belligerent foreign policy and the most invasive surveillance of the American citizenry that the government could devise. Governor Christie may have forgotten, but there were many families of September 11victims who campaigned against the Iraq War and against Bush administration policies on terrorism. It turns out that suffering such a loss doesn't necessarily mean you'll support whatever the government attempts to do in the name of your loved ones. You don't lose your capacity for reason or become blind to the complexities such issues present.

But if Chris Christie has a chance of becoming the GOP's next presidential nominee, it will be because of his tough-talking persona. We'll see how far it gets him.

 

SO THEY SAY

"The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn't make any sense to me. And one really could have predicted what was going to happen."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

DAILY MEME: DUMB IDEAS ON THE ANTI-OBAMACARE FRONT

  • The sky is falling! The sky is falling! This week marks the latest incarnation of conservatives going crazy over Obamacare.
  • Well, at least some of them are. There's some intraparty squabbling over whetherthis whole railing against the Affordable Care Act thing is a good use of time.
  • And some of your favorite familiar faces of GOP fearmongering are hitting the opinion pages to rile people up.
  • The IRS union is also anti-Obamacare, and conservatives are gleefully lapping upthe irony with a spoon.
  • Even headlines are rebelling!
  • Although, out of all the people railing against health care, the CEOs of FatBurger and IHOP are the most logical.
  • Senator Mike Lee is going as far as threatening to shut down the entire government unless funding for the health-care law disappears.
  • To which other, saner conservatives respond, yeah, this isn't going to work. It might actually hurt us, besides being a total fail.  Yeah, stop. Right now
  • Or, as Republican Senator Richard Burr sums it up, “I think it’s the dumbest ideaI’ve ever heard."

WHAT WE'RE WRITING

  • Two representatives tried to allow non-religious chaplains to serve in the military. Amelia Thomson-Deveaux writes that some conservatives were so incensed that they passed legislation to enforce just the opposite.
  • Preliminary rounds of Israel-Palestine peace talks will start in Washington, D.C. next week. Now, Matt Duss writes, will Kerry be able to push meaningful change? 

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Thank John Roberts for the FISA court's increased willingness to let the government keep tabs on you.
  • The only poetry about presidents and sport you need to read today.
  • College enrollment fell 2 percent last year—the steepest drop since 1990.
  • The New Yorker's Carlos Danger cover is a beautiful thing.
  • Some Congressional Republicans are concerned that the effort by some in their caucus to threaten to shut down the government if Obamacare is not defunded could jeopardize their hold on Congress.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek tallies the difficulties facing young Greeks without jobs.
  • Chris Christie slammed the growing trend of libertarianism in the Republican Party for being concerned with more esoteric intellectual debates than preventing the next terrorist attack.
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's push to remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command is slowly gaining steam by building a broad bipartisan coalition, but still faces opposition from some, including those in her own party like Sen. Claire McCaskill.
  • There's a new Onion Joe Biden article. You're welcome.

POLL OF THE DAY 

Just 23 percent of Americans under 35 call themselves Republicans, according to a newWall Street Journal/NBC News poll. That’s compared with 50 percent in the same category who consider themselves Democrats. Also according to the poll, only 30 percent of women of any age consider themselves a part of the GOP.

Comments

Seeing where Christie came down on the neocons vs libertarians question was some of the more interesting political news in a while. I'd rate his 2016 GOP presidential primary chances as about zero, simply for the reason that he's shown respect and friendliness toward a president for whom most of the Republican base feels hot hatred. Attack ads with footage of him interacting amiably with Pres. Obama would kill Christie.

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