On the Sunday morning television shows this past weekend -- against the backdrop of an Iraq in flames -- former Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued their ongoing feud and the battle for the (national security) soul of the Republican Party. In recent months, as Mother Jones has reported that Paul in 2009 accused Cheney of using 9/11 as an excuse to launch the Iraq invasion to benefit Halliburton (the corporation Cheney once led) and called on the GOP to disassociate itself with the former vice president, Cheney's allies have slammed the senator for expressing reckless positions. During a private speech in March, without mentioning Paul by name, Cheney contended that Paul's skepticism about US intervention abroad would endanger the United States. On ABC News' This Week on Sunday, Cheney explicitly assailed Paul as "basically an isolationist" -- a term of profound derision in the neocon wing of the GOP. Meanwhile, on Meet the Press, Paul was asked if Cheney could be considered a credible critic of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, and Paul, without saying Cheney's name, replied, "The same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq war. You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That's what the war was sold on. Was democracy easily achievable?...They didn't really, I think, understand the civil war that would break out." This was obviously a jab at the former vice president.
But though Paul, who is mulling a 2016 presidential bid, has not hesitated to challenge the hawks of the GOP, he has softened his language. He no longer accuses Cheney of pushing the Iraq war to reap corporate profits. (He even recently claimed that was not what he had meant to say.) And in these latest rounds, Paul has not voiced his previously stated view that the GOP is the party of war-mongers at odds with true Christian beliefs.