The best exchange of the GOP debate took place when Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul got into it on NSA spying and the Fourth Amendment.
It began when Christie affirmed his ridiculous statement that should a terrorist attack happen, Paul should be held responsible and brought before a congressional investigation. Christie then pointed out that right before 9/11 he was appointed U.S. Attorney and used the Patriot Act to prosecute terrorists after the tragedy.
Policy quickly shifted to emotion appeals when Christie said:
“This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks away, at her office, having gone through it that morning.”
The New Jersey governor wrapped up by claiming that the government should be trusted with and given all the “tools” possible.
Paul was able to strike back, explaining the constitutional method for data collection:
“You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights. Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge. I’m talking about searches without warrants, indiscriminately, of all Americans’ records, and that’s what I fought to end.”
And then Paul reminded everyone why they can’t stand Chris Christie: his wonderful campaign hugs for Obama before the 2012 election.
Christie didn’t respond to the policy part of Paul’s statement, but he was willing to invoke more 9/11 emotionalism:
“And you know—you know, [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]? [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ], you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11.”
At that point, Paul made his epic eye roll. Many viewers thought it was very insensitive and immature for him to do so. But they are misunderstanding Paul’s incredulity. He wasn’t rolling his eyes at 9/11 victims. He was rolling his eyes at the fact that Christie was using 9/11 victims in place of an argument. He was using the fact that 9/11 happened to justify disobeying the Constitution.
Christie was wrong on the merits, and he knows it, so his strategy from the beginning was to replace logos with pathos. By framing himself as the person who really cares more about the tragedy of 9/11(and implying that Paul doesn’t care), he was able to win gullible sympathy votes.
And for that, as well his advocacy for ignoring the Constitution, Chris Christie should be ashamed of himself. Just as his buddy Obama should be ashamed for using the dead bodies of school shooting victims to justify violating the Second Amendment.