No Country for Fat Men

The Anton Chigurh of Jersey politics has a declared nemesis, and that wouldn't be a Jersey version of Llewelyn Moss. That would be Sarah Palin -- the Mama Grizzly -- who's come to the defense of Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Paul was recently the victim of a drive by whacking compliments of the Garden State's chubby Chigurh -- okay, kinda-sorta Chigurh, in that Chris Christie is far too loutish and pliable to pass for the cool killer in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men (and the Coen Brothers movie of the same name).

The Guv may like the hype of being the Chigurh of American politics, but he's pretty much a Garden State-variety big mouth schoolyard bully. Yes, interventions and mandatory anger management have cleansed the nation's white bread grade schools of the Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherfords, but Christie graduated long before all that, and took his bully act to the political arena, where counseling isn't mandatory.

Jersey's governor went after Paul ostensibly for Paul's circumspection about NSA activities, namely, the unwarranted sweeping up of information on innocent Americans. But Governor Lumpy was actually jockeying for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. The Guv was doing the contrast thing in conspicuously picking a fight with the libertarian-leaning Paul, a potential rival.

Governor Lumpy, who's up for reelection this November, blindsided Paul in a calculated effort to hit hot buttons with all those touchy-feely blues, from Union City to Cape May and back again. A thumping reelection victory for the Guv propels him further into the spotlight and the loving embrace of Washington's Republican establishment, pols and chatterers.

Seems that Governor Lumpy is running the Romney route to the Republican presidential nomination. Here's the plan: Cozy up to the GOP establishment, rake in the big bucks from heavy-hitting establishment donors, and pray like hell that a slew of bona fide conservatives enter the 2016 GOP nomination fight, thereby fragmenting the conservative vote, giving the 30% or thereabouts of GOP establishment voters the chance to swing primaries and caucuses your way. Of course, much depends on the rules for 2016 caucuses and primaries.

After Governor Lumpy's reelection this November (all but certain), prepare for barrels of ink, real and virtual, to be expended by Republicans and ingratiating scribes asserting that for the GOP to secure the White House in 2016, bluish is the way to go, and darn it, Chris Christie proved it with his mix of get tough on Rand Paul and lovers of liberty and his snuggling with President O. These days, the GOP establishment is comfortably purplish verging on bluish, trans-partier John McCain leading the charge.

Missed in the governor's cheap theatrics over national security was the serious point made by Senator Paul: there are important constitutional questions raised when an agency of government -- be it the NSA or the IRS -- oversteps its legal mandates -- or comes within a hair's breadth of doing so.

There are legitimate grounds for debate about the balance between national security, on the one hand, and liberties on the other. But it t'was a big, fat, floppy red-herring that Governor Lumpy threw on the table by inferring that Paul and those Americans speaking out against Washington overreach are somehow anti-security. There's a whole lot of country between truncheon-wielders crushing freedoms in the name of security and stocking up on freeze-dried foods and ammo for your own protection.

Senator Paul has given no indication that he opposes a sensible, constitutionally mandated obligation of the national government to protect citizens. If anything, Paul has shown he's hawkish, in a new sense: he's hawkish on liberty, and rightfully suspect of the ever-growing power and intrusiveness of the federal government.

Governor Lumpy's smash-mouth attack on Paul was all misdirection. Why, if Senator Paul or any God-fearing American dare even hint that the feds are breaching rights and liberties (or coming close), then they must be for more Americans perishing in jihadists' surprise attacks.

The NSA has good intentions? A government that can cast a wide net for enemy combatants today (or should we more appropriately call them "potential workplace violators?") can, under new and less fastidious leadership, take the information collected on honest Americans and use it toward fiendish ends.

An extreme statement, that? Well, then, Jefferson and Madison were extremists -- or, for progressives and fellow traveling Republicans, America's revolutionaries and founders are "quaint" -- you know, all their eloquent, antique claptrap about limited government and tyranny.

As Richmond Times Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle summed up cogently a couple of weeks ago:

Government exists to protect all people's rights, not some people's feelings. A country in which the government can, in the name of national security, invade any home or arrest any person, with no explanation and no appeal, might be secure from foreign invasion. But its people are not safe -- they are simply threatened by a different menace.

But back to politics. In going after Paul, Governor Lumpy may have miscalculated by swiping at the libertarianism that is taking hold at the grassroots. This "libertarianism," boiled down, is small government conservatism. It's the drive to reestablish government closer to founding principles, which, nowadays, merits IRS shenanigans.

In defense and foreign affairs, grassroots conservatives aren't Lindberghs, nor do they aim to gut the nation's defenses. But neither are they willing to write Uncle Sam a blank check, unquestioningly and stupidly surrendering rights and freedoms to the federal government in the name of security. And they may be more prudent about adventurism. What has Benghazi produced, other than death, lies, and a momentous cover-up? And President O meddled in Egyptian affairs to what good end?

Jersey's governor has already lost his street cred with grassroots conservatives. Even leggy bottle-blonde Ann Coulter has forsaken the big fella. His positions on amnesty, gun control, and global warming are culprits. He also appointed a lib-tainted cabinet, which falls into the category of "Tell me who your friends are."

But Governor Lumpy may just win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 if -- and only if -- conservatives fail to consolidate support early enough behind a conservative presidential candidate. There's got to be some deal-cutting soon enough to focus resources and votes to trounce the Guv. That means some aspirants putting aside ambitions and egos for the cause. No small trick, given the outsized egos and ambitions of the men and women who seek the presidency. But that's the direction grassroots conservative leaders need to push, toward consolidation.

In the 2016 GOP caucuses and primaries, there can be no country for fat men.

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