Rand Paul called out New Jersey governor Chris Christie on Monday’s edition of Fox News’ Hannity for invoking the families of 9-11 victims in order to advance his political career and to discredit those who oppose uninhibited government surveillance of its citizens. Paul stated that, “It’s really, I think, kind of sad and cheap that he would use the cloak of 9/11 victims and say, ‘Oh, I’m the only one who cares about these victims.” Paul is right to take a stand against those Republicans who have used that momentous day in our nation’s history in order to shield themselves from criticism or to advance their own agenda. Moreover, Christie’s attack on Paul for the Kentucky senator’s attempt to bring money to his home state is not only unserious when considering Christie’s track record, but deflects from the issue at hand.
More than just a tug-of-war at a family picnic, as characterized by Charles Krauthammer, the battle between Paul and Christie is a broader and more powerful representation of the bitter divide in today’s Republican Party. Krauthammer is correct in stating on The O’Reilly Factor that isolationists and internationalists have been in disagreement within the Republican Party for more than a century, but the interventionists have expanded America’s global military presence without any restraint. They have run roughshod over anyone in the party who even hinted at the very slightest reduction in the number of overseas troops. We have watched a republic grow into an empire that is now plunging the country into unnecessary, costly wars that have little to do with national security and more to do with a neoconservative fantasy of nation-building in order to force American values on the world or to bolster American hubris.
On another point of contention between conservatives and progressives in the party, Krauthammer may be right that the threat of shutting down the government or defunding Obamacare may backfire on the Republican Party, but what he fails to acknowledge is that time and time again the neoconservatives and progressives in the Republican Party have coerced conservatives into holding back and allowing Democrats to have their way on a wide range of issues. And time and time again, conservatives have been duped into falling for this political paradigm. At some point, conservatives were bound to grow weary of being used as pawns in a game designed to advance a neoconservative agenda. They have become emboldened with the rise of the Tea Party and are wiser due to the political trickery of the Republican establishment. One senses that the current rift in the party is not merely a disagreement at a family picnic, but is a serious effort by conservatives to finally challenge an establishment that has gone unrestrained for decades.