There’s nothing political folks like better than a good Civil War – whether you happen to be a Republican or a Democrat it’s hard to find a pogrom more satisfying than purging the heretics in your own party, which is not necessarily an unproductive experience: After all, Reagan’s victory in 1980 was the result of a five year Republican Civil War.
The first sign that the everyday normal bumps and grinds of Republican politics might break into open warfare came when John McCain branded Rand Paul and Ted Cruz ‘Wacko Birds.’ That set the stage for Round 2 when the ‘Wacko Birds’ met the ‘Old Birds’ eye-to-eye at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
At forty-one Senator Marco Rubio is a pretty unusual standard bearer for the Old Birds. A Cuban immigrant’s son who needed an opportunity and got one, Senator Rubio pulled himself up by his bootstraps. At twenty-eight, he ran for the Florida Legislature and quickly became a ‘rising star.’ He walked onto the stage at CPAC and gave an earnest, smooth, passionate speech about American exceptionalism. He was articulate. But cautious. He crossed swords with no one.
Next a tousle-haired fifty-year-old wearing a dark blue jacket and blue jeans, looking like a college professor, walked onto the stage and he wasn’t smooth at all. Or cautious. With wry humor Rand Paul poked fun at Obama for saying he had to cancel White House tours for schoolchildren due to a lack of money but, then, three days later, sending $250 million to Egypt in foreign aid. After quoting Lincoln, Montesquieu and Lewis Carroll’s ‘White Queen,’ Paul turned his wit on the Old Birds, saying the Republican Establishment ‘has grown stale and covered with moss.’
Paul went on to win the straw poll at CPAC.
Now, that’s not a sure sign the Wacko Birds will pluck the Old Birds.