Terrorist-supporting conservative uberhawk Rep. Peter King (R-New York), sounding very much like a man feeling left out of the Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul story, played the McCainesque America-Firster card against Paul Wednesday on CNN:
[W]hat this reminds me of, someone like Senator Paul and others in that isolationist wing -- now, the Republicans had this debate back in the 1930s when you had the isolationists and the Charles Lindberghs that said we should appease Hitler. And the Democrats had it in the 1960s when the anti-war movement blamed America first. And in both cases, it hurt the party for years. Each party was hurt for years.
I'm afraid that's what Senator Paul is going to do with us. He wants to retreat from the world, he wants to isolate ourselves, go back to a fortress America. [...]
[T]he so-called principles of Senator Paul and Senator Cruz, that's an isolationist trend which will damage our country tremendously. [...]
And what Governor Christie and I -- what we believe in, we realize al Qaeda is the enemy. We realize that there's a terrorist movement out there to kill us and we have to maintain our security and we're not going to pander and stoke up fears of paranoia the way he's been doing by talking about spying and snooping, which was only in his mind. [...]
This is a fringe. This is an isolationist wing of the party, which I thought that we rejected with Charles Lindbergh back in the late 1930s and early '40s.
National Security Agency officials violated secret federal court orders authorizing the daily collection of domestic email and telephone data from hundreds of millions of Americans, according to previously top-secret documents made public Wednesday by the Obama administration.
The Lindbergh analogy, too, falls apart with a moment's reflection:
* Lindbergh in April 1939—a half year after Hitler dismembered democratic Czechoslovakia—wrote in his diary that Germany "has pursued the only consistent policy in Europe in recent years," and that "The question of right and wrong is one thing by law and another thing by history." I do not recall Rand Paul issuing apologia on behalf of an expansionist aggressor state against a peaceful western ally.
* In November 1939, Lindbergh wrote a Reader's Digest article stressing that aviation is "one of those priceless possessions which permit the White race to live at all in a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown," and warned that entering World War II would lead to "racial decline," the "infiltration of inferior blood," the "dilution by foreign races," and ultimately "racial suicide." Rand Paul to this point in his career has not expressed an active interest in eugenics.
* In September 1941, Lindbergh famously said of Jews, "The greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government." Sen. Paul has demonstrated no similar concern about The Jewish Problem.
A persistent if under-acknowledged problem with the hawks' robotic insult of calling their non-hawk political opponents Hitler-appeasers is that in the Year of Our Lord 2013, THERE IS NO ADOLF HITLER. Look around the world for a dictator busy gobbling up countries, massing globally competitive armies and armaments, rounding up ethnic and religious minorities in camps, and bullying the democratic West to negotiating tables where weaker nation-states are cashed in like poker chips. He doesn't exist.
It's not that bringing Hitler into the discussion is some kind of taboo, it's that it's some kind of thousand-proof stoopid. And it's a telling indication of just how far the once proudly intellectual neoconservative tradition has slipped into anti-intellectualism.
Perhaps even funnier than Rep. King's feeble Hitler/Lindbergh slap was his laugh-out-loud defense of federal Hurricane Sandy spending:
There was no pork. Every dollar was accounted for. [...]
And when he talks about Governor Christie and me and others who fought hard to get the aid that we needed -- this was a natural disaster and yet every dollar was accounted for. He just perpetuates this big lie, talking about pork and somehow trying to demean Governor Christie when he fought so hard for the state or me because I fought so hard for mine - when he had every dollar accounted for and will be accounted for.
For an additional amount for "Community Development Fund", $16,000,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017, for necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas resulting from a major disaster declared pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.) due to Hurricane Sandy and other eligible events in calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013, for activities authorized under title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.):
Emphasis mine. In English, that’s $16 billion, or about as much money as the United States Postal Service lost last year, for disasters that had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy. Let's see, what’s a handy term to describe spending projects in far-flung congressional districts having nothing whatsoever to do with the purpose of the underlying legislation?
I'll say it again: Show me a blank-check interventionist in foreign policy, and I'll show you a blank-check interventionist on domestic. Rand Paul and the libertarian-leaning Republicans are exposing the GOP status quo for what it has long been: Divorced from limited-government principles, and accustomed to shutting down debate by screaming "HITLER!" To gain traction in this fight, hawks are going to have to do much better than trotting out hacks like Peter King.