It's getting real over here in the Angry Birds' multi-front attack against GOP 2016 presidential front-runner* Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). Asked Sunday about recent broadsides from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ("this strain of libertarianism that's going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,") and New York Rep. Peter King ("When you have Rand Paul actually comparing [Edward] Snowden to Martin Luther King, Jr., or Henry David Thoreau, this is madness."), the Kentucky senator went there:
"They're precisely the same people who are unwilling to cut the spending, and their 'Gimme, gimme, gimme — give me all my Sandy money now.'" Paul said, referring to federal funding after the hurricane last year. "Those are the people who are bankrupting the government and not letting enough money be left over for national defense." […]
Paul said he wasn't the one itching for a fight.
"I didn't start this one, and I don't plan on starting things by criticizing other Republicans," he said. "But if they want to make me the target, they will get it back in spades."
So how long until we hear from Sen. Paul about Pete King's IRA fetish?
I don't know if attacking Chris Christie for his operatic Hurricane Sandy demagoguery is politically astute, but I do know that A) our national disaster-relief politics have long been idiotic, wasteful, and filled with WTF line items; B) Republican hawks should be put on the defensive about being able to afford everything they insist is our patriotic duty to finance; and C) the actual Republicans who vote and donate during primary and pre-primary season might have a negative association or two with Gov. Christie and the hurricane.
The openness and vehemence of this interventionist campaign against one of the GOP's rising young stars three full years before the party's next nominating convention is telling. Even if the current foot-soldiers in the anti-Paul war are either comic-book non-entities like Peter King and Liz Cheney or foreign-policy blank slates like Christie, the most important thing is that the candidate (and ideological tendency) making headlines and attracting support from unusual quarters get contained before the virus spreads. The defense establishment, long accustomed to getting its way in both policy and politics, is gearing up for some of that ol' pre-emptive war.
Like President Barack Obama, these people don't actually want to have a debate, and still apparently believe that if you shout "9/11!" loud enough you don't have to have one. By forcing this issue out in the open on the Republican side of the aisle, Rand Paul and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) are not just smoking out the priorities and anxieties of the interventionists, they're jump-starting a national War on Terror policy discussion that has lay dormant for at least the last five years.