The Corner

Let’s You and Him Fight

I’m not sure what Chris Christie’s motivation was for going after Rand Paul and libertarians, unless it was just more Christie shoot-from-the-lip bluster to score political points with the New York Times, but on balance I think the brewing feud between the two wings of the GOP heading into the 2016 election season is a very good thing. Bring it on.

In one corner, the larger-than-life governor of New Jersey, who might have been a front-runner for the nomination until his very public embrace of President Obama during Hurricane Sandy. Christie did the right thing, of course — his state was among the hardest hit by the superstorm, and a visit by the president of the United States, any president, could only be a good thing. Still, the chumminess at a time when conservatives were desperately holding their noses and about to pull the lever for Mitt “severely conservative” Romney seemed over the top, and the pugnacious pol never recovered his former status as a heart-throb of the Right. 

In the other, the son of perennially quixotic libertarian candidate Ron Paul, less wacky than his dad and something of a hero after his filibuster against the drone-strike program. Rand is a much cannier mainstream politician than his father ever was, and not only is positioning himself for the 2016 nomination fight, but is collecting vouchers in advance via the 2014 congressional elections. 

It’s a great fight to have, and it’s a great fight to have right now. With Obama reeling from an assortment of “phony” scandals that somehow include multiple dead Americans (Benghazi, Fast and Furious) and with him now standing revealed (via the IRS targeting of conservatives) as every bit as partisan and unprincipled as conservatives suspected, this is paradoxically not the time for the GOP to rally ’round a candidate or wing of the party in the hopes of presenting a united front for 2016. Rather, it’s the time to air out the differences between the Establishment GOP (eastern in orientation, with branches in Texas and Arizona) and the populist upstarts who have just about had it with Washington, with reaching across the aisle, with sucking up to the mainstream media, and most of all with the implicit defeatism of a party that time and again nominates candidates sure to lose (Dole, McCain, Romney) against Democrats who could not otherwise win (Clinton, Obama). 

Oddly, the MSM’s ironclad support for Obama helps the Establishment GOP, by norming the Bush-Obama domestic spying programs, the drone strikes and the other trappings of the Big Brother state. In effect there are now two parties: the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, embodied by Obama and McCain (and what does that tell you about the 2008 election?) and the Other America party, which still believes in old-fashioned things like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as reactionary and unenlightened as those things may be. 

The support for potential candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz — and the rapid fading of support for people like Christie and Marco Rubio, who badly blotted his copybook with his inexplicable “comprehensive immigration reform” advocacy when that is just about the last thing on the minds of the American people — indicates a hunger for the fight. Conservatives understand that they have two opponents in the 2016 election: Hillary Clinton (or whoever comes out of left field to rob her of the nomination this time) and, far tougher, the McCain/Graham/Rove wing of the Republican party. Until that wing is soundly defeated and its accommodationist principles refuted and discredited, conservatives have exactly zero chance of engaging with the Democrats the way the want to: unapologetically and unafraid.

Most Popular


Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

On Painting Air Force One

And so it has come to this. Two oil tankers were just attacked in the Gulf of Oman, presumably by Iran. The United States and China are facing off in a confrontation that is about far more than trade. The southern border remains anarchic and uncontrolled. And Congress is asking: “Can I get the icon in ... Read More