Posted by Curt on 30 December, 2015 at 10:33 am. 3 comments already!


John Podhoretz:

It’s getting hot in here.

Tuesday morning, the political action committee supporting Jeb Bush released an extraordinarily nasty — and inaccurate — ad bashing Marco Rubio for missing key intelligence briefings on the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks. At the same time, Chris Christie called on Rubio to resign from the Senate since he misses so many Senate votes — this from a man who literally spent half the year outside of New Jersey on the campaign trail.

All this comes a few weeks after Ted Cruz followed Rand Paul in slamming Rubio for being a warmonger. Rubio responded by calling Cruz an isolationist whose opposition to collecting metadata is making us vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Cruz bashed Rubio as a supporter of immigration amnesty. Rubio went after Cruz for his inconsistency on immigration legalization.

Democrats are gleeful at the eruption of this war of all against all, while many professional Republicans are despondent.


This is all to the good. With 34 days left to go until the first votes are tabulated in the Iowa caucuses, it’s time for the gloves to come off.

Last summer, Donald Trump stunned the political class and his fellow candidates by successfully combining policy-free proclamations about making America great again with astoundingly ad hominem nastiness. Since his rivals believed Trump’s ugliness would doom him, they went nice. For the most part, they said they weren’t in the race to criticize other Republicans because they all shared a common purpose — ensuring a GOP victory over Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

They were wrong. And in truth, they might have done better to take up the cudgels against each other — and Trump — in the fall to prevent him from sucking up all the oxygen in the race. You have to make news, and be the news, if you want to be president.

Now they’re making news, and in the right way — by airing their differences when it comes to policy.

This will have positive consequences. First, it will allow voters to differentiate between the candidates just as they begin to pay very close attention to the race. If you think the key problem facing the country is terrorism, then the dispute between Rubio and Cruz is the central one.

Cruz says ISIS can be defeated from the air. Rubio says the only way to destroy ISIS is to seize the territory it has occupied. Cruz says the use of metadata to monitor phone traffic is unnecessary. Rubio says it is crucial. These are maybe the two smartest men in American politics right now, and the argument they are having and will continue to have will help shape the election even if neither wins the nomination.

The same is true on immigration. If it’s your central concern, Rubio probably makes you uneasy. But he has said he was wrong to push for a massive immigration-reform package, and says he continues to favor a path to legalization. Cruz says he opposes legalization — but is being cagey and slippery when it comes to his past support for it.

Can Rubio be trusted on the issue if he was wrong on it before? Can Cruz be trusted on it if he isn’t being honest about his own history when it comes to the issue?

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