It's been amusing referring to the growing GOP/TP schism as a "civil war," a bit of harmless, needling fun. Reports of "scattered sniping" between the Cruz and Boehner camps add a frisson of martial spice to what has been, 'til now, a rhetorical parlor game.
But, in political conflicts, the difference between a skirmish and actual war can be measured in calibers, and a few scattered shots do not a war make.
But when one side starts wheeling in the artillery...
There is only one real firepower in American politics, and that is money. And now, it appears establishment 'Pubs are willing to roll out the big guns in their battle with Randy and the Cruz-ers.
The New York Times reports this morning that the National Republican Senatorial Committee has given notice to longtime 'Pub ad house Jamestown Associates that the NRSC will not be contracting any ad campaigns with Jamestown this cycle. The reason? Jamestown has produced spots and bought time for candidates backed by Jim DeMint's Conservatives Fund, which has been targeting sitting GOP senators with right-side primary challenges.
Party campaign committees, while of dubious value in actually convincing voters to get to the polls, control impressive war chests, and the NRSC's shot across Jamestown's bow is a signal that establishment 'Pubs aren't going to take Tea Party primary challenges lying down, but are prepared to fight back with the biggest guns they've got--the green ones.
Meanwhile, the ongoing war of words between the factions continues unabated. A couple of choice quotes from the Times piece may amuse.
“We’re not going to do business with people who profit off of attacking Republicans,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the committee. “Purity for profit is a disease that threatens the Republican Party.”
“This is happening because Mitch McConnell is having a complete meltdown,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the conservative group. “He can’t defend his record so he’s threatening and attacking everyone who disagrees with him. He’s so rattled, he has decided to declare war on the entire conservative movement, which represents the very people he needs to win re-election. This isn’t the behavior of a confident person. It’s the irrational reaction of a power-hungry bully who isn’t getting his way.”
“S.C.F. has been wandering around the country destroying the Republican Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk into,” said Josh Holmes, Mr. McConnell’s chief of staff, now detailed to the National Republican Senatorial Committee through the election. “The difference this cycle is that they strolled into Mitch McConnell’s bar and he doesn’t throw you out, he locks the door.”
Stay tuned for more dispatches from the front. Or just wait for the rumble and the smell of powder.