I alternate between being amused and annoyed by the wholly irresponsible, purely theoretical, ivory tower dogmatism of the libertarian movement, whose defining characteristic seems to be a stubborn insistence on policies suitable only in Thomas More's Utopia- and a 1789 Utopia, at that.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, many of whose constituents bear the scars of 9/11, has taken on Rand Paul and the other libertarians in Congress, who can't seem to get it through their heads that there are people out there who want to kill us and our children, and that it's not our fault.
Asked about the narrow margin by which a bi-partisan libertarian coalition failed recently to defund government surveillance programs, Christie called Paul and his allies "dangerous."
“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this," Christie said, "... these esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have.… I’m very nervous about the direction this is moving in.
“The next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result," Christie continued, "people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering whether they put… I think what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t. And I remember what we felt like on Sept. 12, 2001.”
Christie praised the counter-terrorism efforts of both President Obama and former president George W. Bush.
The response from the Paul camp was predictable. Paul's chief of staff, Doug Stafford, replied, "Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Sen. Paul. But it can and must be done in keeping with our constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.
Referring to Bruce Springsteen, Stafford continued, “In the words of the Governor’s favorite lyricist, ‘You know that flag flying over the courthouse, means certain things are set in stone. Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t.’”
But the Constitution states in its very preamble that among its purposes is to "provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare." Paul and his father, Ron, have suggested that 9/11 was actually an understandable response by people we were abusing by defending our interests in the Middle East. The libertarian allergy to reality begs the question of what that flag and those things mean in a real world in which madmen and haters fly airplanes into skyscrapers, bomb marathons, and threaten us all with sudden death.
Christie- who is looking more and more to me like my fallback choice in 2016 if Jeb Bush doesn't run- should be commended for taking on a movement seemingly more concerned with governance as an academic exercise than with the realities they would have to face if they ever actually were given the chance to govern. For all of our sakes, and for the sake of that flag and those things that are "set in stone," that cannot be allowed to happen.