Robert Gates scorns the RINOs who don't get ripped enough

One of the wonderful things about the rise of Ron and Rand Paul and the increasingly libertarian tone of some of the young Republicans elected to Congress is that they are shunning the mindless embrace of military spending that has been the GOP norm forever — whether when it was vaguely justifiable (during the Cold War and just after 9/11, when the extent of the terrorist threat was unclear) or not.

We hear plenty about Republicans In Name Only (RINOs) who waver on social conservatism or some other hot-button issue. We should hear much more about the other Republicans In Name Only — including just about the entire California congressional delegation — who never look at military spending with the same suspicion as most other types of spending.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' new autobiography is getting attention for other reasons. But I was struck by Gates' contempt for this sort of RINO thinking:

“Congress is best viewed from a distance — the farther the better — because up close, it is truly ugly. I saw most of Congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities (such as timely appropriations), micromanagerial, parochial, hypocritical, egotistical, thin-skinned and prone to put self (and re-election) before country.

“I was more or less continuously outraged by the parochial self-interest of all but a very few members of Congress. Any defense facility or contract in their district or state, no matter how superfluous or wasteful, was sacrosanct. I was constantly amazed and infuriated at the hypocrisy of those who most stridently attacked the Defense Department as inefficient and wasteful but fought tooth and nail to prevent any reduction in defense activities in their home state or district.”

Gates is going after both parties here — Dems who rip military spending except when it helps their districts, and GOPers who want efficient government except when it means closing facilities in their districts.

But Gates' criticism of non-Paulian GOP lawmakers should sting more. They want their stands on raising the debt ceiling to be seen as a noble reflection of their purity. But pure they ain't.


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