Neoconservative and former Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol offered to debate libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul in a fiery exchange of tweets on Wednesday morning.
Paul had earlier expressed his approval in response to the news that the Weekly Standard would be going out of business.
In the empty vacuum that is the mind of a die-hard MSNBC viewer, antipathy to the political program of Kristol and the neoconservative movement he’s associated with can only be viewed within the context of post-2016 Trump-era American politics. Kristol has shown himself more than willing to go along revisionist attempts to rehabilitate him, having reinvented himself as a progressive elite liberal “conservative” known for his strong denunciations of American nationalism and the Trump administration.
However, to many longtime activists and personalities on the right, opposing Kristol’s brand of politics predates both Donald Trump and Kristol’s opportunistic lurch to the progressive left. It’s fitting that a Paul would be aware of this, as the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Rand’s father, Ron, was a watershed challenge to the prevailing train of thought in the contemporary Republican Party. Paul ran as a small-L libertarian challenging military interventionism and regime change, ultimately losing to John McCain, for whom Bill Kristol was a foreign policy advisor.
Although at one point it appeared Kristol was beyond reproach as a national Republican figure, the revolution within the GOP brought about by Donald Trump’s American nationalist presidential campaign has led to political realignment for the foreign policy “mastermind.” It was recently revealed that much of Kristol’s political infrastructure was funded by progressive billionaires, including a relative of the fiercely hated financier George Soros.
For many conservatives, libertarians, and right-wingers, the debate between advocates of a restrained foreign policy and supporters of regime change remains relevant and appropriate. One can’t help but wonder if Paul accepting Kristol’s offer to debate could prove to be insightful to many throughout the conservative movement.
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