I think this, from the lead story in today's print New York Times, misses the point:
With Congress unlikely to stop deep automatic spending cuts that will strike hard at the military, the fiscal stalemate is highlighting a significant shift in the Republican Party: lawmakers most keenly dedicated to shrinking the size of government are now more dominant than the bloc committed foremost to a robust national defense, particularly in the House."Robust national defense"? Is that the right way to describe what the John McCains and the Lindsey Grahams and the Bill Kristols want? Or is being in favor of lavish military spending and every possible intervention just what these guys consider an effective posture against a party they've portrayed for forty years as sandal-wearing hippies putting flowers in gun barrels?
As I see it, the intraparty dispute is between a crop of old-school posturers who think it's effective to demand lots of military spending all the time, in order to draw a contrast with evil peacenik Democrats ... and a new crop, who are focusing on cutting government spending (including military spending) right now, but who are also likely to attack Democrats as anti-military later, if and when these cuts take effect.
You just wait: Rand Paul and a tiny handful of other Paulite Republicans may sincerely want to cut the defense budget and reduce U.S. military commitments, but the rest of these guys want the cuts to take effect on a Democratic president's watch because they want to blame a Democrat for them. The only real difference between these guys and the old-school hawks is that the old-school hawks think you attack Democrats as peaceniks by demanding maximal militarism at all times, while the new crowd is sacrificing a pawn, on the assumption that anything Republicans force into the budget while a Democrat is in the Oval Office will be blamed on the Democrat. It's a difference of tactics.
Do you seriously think the GOP isn't going to run against Hillary Clinton (or whomever) in 2016 by accusing Democrats of making America weak? Do you think the Republican candidate isn't going to do precisely what Mitt Romney did in 2012, which was to simultaneously demand austerity and a huge increase in defense spending? I know Conor Friedersdorf and Glenn Greenwald will be along any minute to tell us that this could be a real sea change in the GOP -- but it's not. The party's Benghazi obsession tells us it's not. Yes, there are two wings of the party, but their big difference is on the question of whether to say "Democrats weaken America!" now or later.