Much is being made in the political media today about the “harsh assessment of libertarianism” and its most popular current spokesman, Senator Rand Paul, that Governor Chris Christie delivered in his remarks during the Aspen Institute forum with fellow Republican governors Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, and Scott Walker last night.
Politico published an edited clip of Christie’s comment on “esoteric, intellectual” libertarianism that made it sound as if the Aspen forum was the kick-off of the 2016 Republican presidential primary between Paul and Christie:
“If Gov. Christie believe the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans are ‘esoteric,’ he either needs a new dictionary or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent times,” Paul senior advisor Doug Stafford said.
“Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Senator Paul,” Mr. Stafford, who is Mr. Paul’s closest adviser, said. “But it can and must be done in keeping with our Constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.”
But if you listen to Christie’s remarks on libertarianism unedited, you’ll find that he was addressing “esoteric, intellectual debates” on both the left and right, as “dangerous” if not informed by practical reality.
“Its not a debate that not worth having,” Christie said as an acknowledgement of the legitimate concerns many Americans have over the governments technological intrusion into our lives.
Christie, who revealed he had top secret clearance as U.S. Attorney, a job President George W. Bush appointed him to on September 10, 2001, said that he knew during the 2008 presidential campaign that Barack Obama would not live up to his rhetoric of closing Guantanamo and doing away with many other of Bush’s anti-terrorism measures if Obama was elected and heard the daily intelligence briefings.
Christie said he told his wife, Mary Pat, “all the time,” during the 2008 presidential campaign, of Obama, “When he sits in that chair and he hears those briefings, his tune is going to change fast.”
“And it has,” Christie went on, pointing out that Obama has not done away with any of the Bush anti-terror measures, “because they work.”
If an ideologue like Obama can change his tune when confronted with reality, it is not too far of a stretch to imagine an ideologue on the other side, Paul, or someone else, doing the same.