Remember when we were told that the Republican Party, cowed by the Tea Party and other “extremists,” was marching in lockstep towards its doom to the tune of a single drummer? If that seems to you like only yesterday, you aren’t far off.
But check out the Senate. The Democrats are in lockstep on virtually every vote. Even in response to President Obama’s controversial, seemingly illiberal drone policy, the only strong Democratic dissenter is Ron Wyden.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are all over the map on a multitude of matters, putting on a virtual circus of dissent and division.
In this ring, see principled Young Turks like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio raise hell. In this ring see the Old Bulls trying to beat some sense into their misguided young colleagues.
Unfortunately, Rand Paul seems more confused (or perhaps opportunistic) than principled. Recall his votes on Chuck Hagel. First, he voted to filibuster Hagel; then he voted to confirm him.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio seems more like a cheap-shot artist than a principled advocate of conservative reform. Recall his sponsorship of the canard that key groups opposing amnesty for illegal aliens aren’t really conservatives, but rather stalking horses for the pro-abortion movement.
Only Ted Cruz seems to fulfill the principled Young Turk role with a modicum of dignity and coherence. Ironically, but perhaps for that reason, he draws the most fire from the left.
As for the Old Bulls, their critique of the Young Turks contains more nonsense than sense. Think of Lindsey Graham’s ill-informed and childish attack on Rand Paul’s filibuster. And think about how miscast the intemperate John McCain is in the role of wise elder statesman.
We’re a big tent with plenty of clowns.
Fortunately, the Party is blessed with a few Senate Republicans who fill simultaneously the roles for which Paul/Rubio and McCain/Graham are auditioning. For example, Jeff Sessions and Ron Johnson provide principled and powerful dissent against Obama’s left-liberalism. And they manage do so with dignity and maturity.
Ain’t nothing like the real thing.