The Ron Paul Divide

An interesting anecdote from Dave Weigel:

The very moment that Ron Paul won the straw poll, I was handed a press release from Young Americans for Freedom:


YAF's senior national director 6a00d83451c45669e20147e29216ff970b-550wiAaron Marks was quoted saying Paul was "clearly off his meds," and that YAF was "more aligned with Obama" than Paul on national security.

I walked outside to celebrating members of Paul's Young Americans for Liberty. They interrupted hugs and high-fives to have a laugh at this. "Why be this inflammatory?" laughed Jeff Frazee, executive director of YAL. "It's a publicity stunt, but it's nice to see them say they agree with Obama."

It's interesting to ponder how different and newly dynamic the fault lines are in today's conservative movement.

Gone are the days when the Cold War held the right together despite differences of opinion on domestic policy. This year, opposition to Obama's domestic agenda is what unifies the right - and it remains to be seen whether it'll prove sufficient to keep the conservative movement together despite its virulent disagreements on foreign policy. The reason you haven't heard much about Iraq or Egypt or Afghanistan is because a reprise of Bush-Cheney would go down like a Ricky Gervais joke at the Golden Globes.

When I heard Dick Cheney heckled as a "war criminal" at CPAC, I knew conservatism was making a comeback. I know Ron and Rand Paul are out there on many issues. But they are critical dissenting voices in a movement that needs more dissent on foreign policy and more candor on entitlement spending. My straw poll vote would have gone to Gary Johnson, but the Pauls are close behind.

(Photo: Ron Paul addressing CPAC by Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)