Paul's Real Target Is Jeb
While Democrats focus on avoiding any more losses in 2014, a major civil war is shaping up within the GOP for 2016. As Mother Jones reported today, Rand Paul is opening a new front against the GOP establishment not on domestic policy or fealty to Tea Party dogma, but rather foreign policy. And Paul is choosing his targets carefully, and in a way that some beltway pundits have yet to see. While Chris Matthews and others were focusing on how Paul is directly going after the Bush/Cheney foreign policy record and asserting the need for an isolationist course, they never went a step further to identify the real import of Paul’s attack: to neutralize Jeb Bush.
With Chris Christie about to take the major fall that some of us have seen coming, there has been an effort by the GOP establishment to avoid a Tea Party takeover in 2016 by getting Jeb to run. The media fluffing of Jeb has gone so far as to see the MSNBC crowd talk approvingly about Bush’s “bravery” in daring the Tea Party to oppose his candidacy and compassion on immigration, while these same center-left pundits seemingly all forgot who signed the “Stand Your Ground” law. Amidst this pro-Bush narrative comes Paul’s direct attack at W and Cheney, which Matthews and others attribute to a GOP civil war on foreign policy, between the neo-cons and the hawk holdovers from the Bush/Cheney years, and the new isolationist wing within the GOP, which is more concerned over the cost of such adventurism.
Yet none of these pundits have yet seized upon another reason for Paul’s attack: he’s undercutting Jeb, who if he runs will be forced by Paul at some point to defend his brother and the Iraq war itself. Paul is planning for this, and knows that one issue Jeb wants to avoid is Iraq. Forcing Jeb to defend the war and Cheney not only causes major schisms inside the party but also destroys Jeb as a general election candidate.
With Hillary's likely candidacy in 2016, I figured that within the party the Iraq war would come up again. But I never thought for a moment that the war would come up as a major flash point on the other side. Democrats should do whatever they can to ensure the GOP civil war between Paul and the Bush/Cheney cabal plays out in full view.