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The Christie-Paul fight, and other fights to come

Chris Christie and Rand Paul are in the midst of a food fight. Not literally, but very much figuratively. Their debate has devolved from one about warrantless federal surveillance programs to the question of which state, New Jersey or Kentucky, receives more “pork.” You can read some of the lowlights here.

For the record, I’m with Christie on the original issue — warrantless federal surveillance programs — and agnostic on the question of who is the bigger porker.

Both Christie and Paul probably would like to be president. Indeed, their food fight appears to represent the preliminary round of a likely clash between the two in a race where Christie figures to be leading centrist candidate and Paul the leading libertarian.

Neither man comes out of this round looking presidential, however.

I would like for neither to be president. Christie seems, on balance, only slightly right of center. Maybe that’s a function of being governor of a Blue State; maybe not. But his embrace of President Obama in the final, decisive days of the 2012 presidential campaign still disgusts me. I would have to hold my nose to vote for Christie in a general election.

Paul’s views on foreign policy and national security are largely antithetical to mine. He’s also a grandstander, a clown, and maybe worse. I’m not sure I could vote for Paul in a general election even holding my nose.

At one point in his fight with Christie, Paul said “it’s not smart” for Republicans to be attacking Republicans. He then proceeded to twist the knife, suggesting that the New Jersey Governor “forget[s] that we have a Bill of Rights, forget[s] about privacy and give[s] up on all of our liberty [so] that you have to live in a police state.”

Did I mention that Paul is a grandstander and a clown?

For years, I think it’s fair to say, we at Power Line were generally reluctant to attack Republicans. I no longer feel that reluctance, as anyone who has been reading my posts about Marco Rubio knows.

The GOP is in the midst of a battle for its soul — or a crack-up if you prefer — the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. Indeed, battle lines within the party have been drawn over a broader range of issues — social matters, national security, foreign policy, immigration, the proper role of government (and whether to shut it down) — than I can ever recall.

Some of the gaps may be bridgeable; others pretty clearly are not. Thus, there’s no avoiding taking sides and no point that I can see in withholding strong criticism of those one perceives to be on the wrong side.

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