This deeply silly Dana Milbank piece from last week, comparing General Petraeus’s Capitol Hill testimony to the D.C. Madam’s legal proceedings, does contain an interesting incidental bit of information. Both Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) seem to have lost patience with the Iraq War and would perhaps like to get out — but can’t quite bring themselves, as loyal Republican congressmen, to say so. “The people of the United States have paid an awful price,” said Rohrabacher — “thundered” Rohrabacher, as Milbank reports — “It’s time for the Iraqis to pay that price for their own protection.” Flake was forthright as well: ” “I still have a hard time seeing the big picture and what constitutes success. … That’s not just one side of the aisle with those kind of concerns. Many on this side of the aisle have that as well.”
Flake, who was once executive director of the Goldwater Institute, is seen as the great up-and-coming libertarian hope in Congress. And back in the ’60s, Rohrabacher had been a fairly radical libertarian activist — a follower of the anarcho-pacifist Robert LeFevre, apparently. (Since then, however, he’s been a much more convention “conservative Republican.”) Libertarians have been disappointed in the failure of most libertarian-leaning Republican congressmen — Ron Paul obviously excepted — to challenge the Iraq War. Perhaps inspired by Ron Paul’s example, now they’re starting to.
The GOP badly needs to get back to fiscal restraint and a prudent foreign policy, principles that are intimately linked. The libertarian-minded Republicans ought to lead the way. So far they’ve been laggards, but maybe that’s changing.