Every time you turn around these days, you hear of ferocious battles over fundamental principles between Republicans and/or within the conservative movement. Separating real from limited, or strategic/tactical, or even contrived conflicts has become essential to insightful political analysis.
So I pulled together a variety of insights on real and phony wars on the Right into a column for TPMCafe. As indicated here yesterday, the only genuine “battle” I’m sure about is over foreign policy, where we are probably about to see Rand Paul’s presidential aspirations come to grief over his refusal to fully bend the knee to ancient conservative orthodoxy on the use of force and defense spending. But questioning the nature and extent of disagreement among Republicans is a useful exercise on a broad array of issues, given conflict-happy media and the incentives various factions have for exaggerating their differences. When you look beyond the talk, it’s remarkable the extent to which today’s GOPers share a vision of America that makes my toes curl.