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News & Politics News & Politics

The Rand Paul moment

Posted by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM
  • 13 Replies

The Rand Paul moment
By: Rich Lowry
June 19, 2013 10:49 PM EDT

You won’t find him on any Federal Election Commission disclosure forms, but Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is the biggest in-kind donor to the incipient Rand Paul for president campaign.

Whatever its merits, the National Security Agency meta-data program couldn’t be better fashioned to play into fears of the government. Is it vast? Yes. Was it secret? Check. Does it arguably run outside the normal checks and balances of government? Uh-huh. Does it raise profound questions about privacy? Roger.

This is the kind of issue Rand Paul was born and (literally) raised to raise holy hell over. And it isn’t just the NSA program lately. The leak about the program came on the heels of revelations that the IRS was singling out tea party groups for extra scrutiny and invasive questions, and on the heels of the AP and James Rosen investigations.

Add in the gun control fight from earlier this year and Paul is nearly 4-for-4 in fights sticking up, in his view, for the first four amendments of the Bill of Rights. The only thing that is missing is the third, because no has proposed the quartering of troops in our homes — yet.

On Wednesday, a Paul aide told me that another aide in the office came to him with a printout of a news article and asked, “Can anything else break that plays into Rand’s core issues?” It had just been revealed that, unbeknownst to anyone, the FBI had been using drones for surveillance. The sound you hear is TV producers falling over themselves to book the Kentucky senator who rocketed to conservative celebrity on the strength of his filibuster of the administration’s drone policy.

It is a Rand Paul moment in the Republican Party not just because the headlines almost every day seem to reinforce his core critique of leviathan as too big, too unaccountable, and too threatening, but because he is smart and imaginative enough to capitalize on those headlines.

Paul has that quality that can’t be learned or bought: He’s interesting. How many potential Republican presidential candidates have helped shepherd a new verb into the English language. The hoopla around Paul’s filibuster gave us, “to drone,” in the sense of “don’t drone me, bro,” as an attendee yelled when Paul took the stage at CPAC.

Other conservatives in the Senate like to brag that they joined Paul’s filibuster, but it was Paul who came up with the idea and executed it, in an inspired bit of political theater.

He taps into an American tradition of dissent not usually invoked by Republicans. At the Time magazine gala this year honoring the 100 most influential people in the world (he was one), he raised a glass to Henry David Thoreau. In his inaugural Senate address, he contrasted his Kentucky hero, the irascible abolitionist Cassius Clay with the more conventional Kentucky political legend, the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay.

His cultural affect is different, too, a little more Utne Reader than National Review. At a packed event at the Reagan Library he explained, “I’m a libertarian conservative who spends most of my free time outdoors. I bike and hike and kayak, and I compost.” It might be the first positive reference to composting in the history of that fine institution.

Because he cares about ideas, Paul’s team doesn’t have to worry about him holding his own in substantive discussions. An aide relates how, on his recent West Coast swing, he visited with a Silicon Valley bigwig and they got to talking intensely about fiscal and monetary policy. After about 20 minutes the executive interrupted to say, “Can I just say? I have never had a conversation like this with a politician in my life.”

Not too long ago, Paul’s foreign policy views would have been an insuperable obstacle to a serious presidential run. No more. The evolution in the party’s foreign policy can be captured in the story of the Pauls. In 2008, Ron Paul’s noninterventionism made him a punching bag in the Republican primary debates. In 2012, it got a respectful hearing. In 2016, his son’s (less toxic) version of the same policy will probably be close to the mainstream in a party exhausted with the world for the time being.

At least for some stretch of 2015, Rand Paul could well be the Republican front-runner, tapping into grass-roots enthusiasm on the model of Howard Dean in 2003. And it’s not inconceivable that he could go further than that famous representative of “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” although the field will presumably be very crowded on the right.

Paul has a built-in online and grass-roots network of the sort it takes years to build. In fact, it did. His father built it, and now he’s working to expand it in his extensive travels. Over those years, his father welcomed into his fold cranks and haters, and one of Rand Paul’s quiet messages is that he has his father’s core convictions, without the loathsome baggage.

I’m far from a Rand Paul-ite. I don’t think there was ever any threat of Americans being droned sitting at cafes, nor do I think drones are the scariest invention in the history of flight. I’m not where Paul is on foreign or national security policy, and I doubt his libertarianism has as much cross-over appeal in blue states as he hopes. (Blue state moderates like government, alas.)

But libertarianism is a significant strand on the right. It should be represented, and represented well. By and large, Rand Paul does that. Anyone underestimating him in 2016 does so at their peril.

© 2013 POLITICO LLC

by on Jun. 20, 2013 at 8:49 PM
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Replies (1-10):
SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 11:14 PM

BUMP!

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 20, 2013 at 11:22 PM
2 moms liked this

Rand Paul doesn't smile a lot - barely at all! - but he is so logical, so clear in what he says, it is really interesting to hear him speak.

And the guy can speak for 13 hours with no teleprompter. Gotta love that.

paperorplastic
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 9:16 AM

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM
2 moms liked this

Uh - no. Rand Paul does not have all the same agenda as the average Republican. Were you by chance a Ron Paul supporter?

I think Rand has been instrumental in getting the libertarian message out there on a number of issues. Remember the drone filibuster? No one has done a filibuster in decades, to my understanding. As a result, the entire nation learned something about the drone policy, and he even had extreme liberals supporting him on this that normally don't support him on anything - including Code Pink and a number of Hollywood celebrities. And even Democrats in the Senate and House. That is significant. I'd never even heard of him until the filibuster.

He's addressed other issues such as the NSA spying on citizens.

And decriminalizing marijuana. He explains this really, really well - and I think it is not only sensible, but compassionate. He changed my mind on that one.

He explains things in a really clear way avoiding maybe some of the more extremes of his father. No offense, but I felt a bit uncomfortable with his dad's kind of extreme emotionality. That said, I think I'd like a little more emotion from Rand - he doesn't smile much - but I'm OK with that. He seems like someone who is a very logical thinker who can explain his position well, and someone of character.

I'm not saying I agree with him on everything. But he has changed my mind on some things and moved me to lean a bit libertarian myself.


Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.



Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.




Ron Paul is a bigger fraud than Obama is.

Wow bi-partisanship
Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 6:34 PM
It should have been an every American moment
paperorplastic
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 11:03 PM


Quoting Billiejeens:

Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.




Ron Paul is a bigger fraud than Obama is.

Wow bi-partisanship

You know what they say about opinions ;)

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 11:07 PM

I don't know that one off the top of my head - not worth the TP they are printed on?


Quoting paperorplastic:


Quoting Billiejeens:

Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.




Ron Paul is a bigger fraud than Obama is.

Wow bi-partisanship

You know what they say about opinions ;)



paperorplastic
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM

As a Libertarian I don't agree with the fact Rand Paul has gotten any Libertarian message out.  The filibuster was a waste of time, and did nothing IMO.  Libertarians already know what injustices and true freedoms this entire current administration is trying to take away.  That's good you are educated on the drug war we are losing, Drones, NSA, etc.  Honestly this is just the tip of the iceberg.  The reason Ron Paul is passionate is because he knew decades ago what direction this country was going in.  He tried to warn people, but we all saw how that went.  If you want to really educate yourself, you should check out the Libertarians Facebook page.  I could go on, but Rand Paul is just another Republican in my book.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Uh - no. Rand Paul does not have all the same agenda as the average Republican. Were you by chance a Ron Paul supporter?

I think Rand has been instrumental in getting the libertarian message out there on a number of issues. Remember the drone filibuster? No one has done a filibuster in decades, to my understanding. As a result, the entire nation learned something about the drone policy, and he even had extreme liberals supporting him on this that normally don't support him on anything - including Code Pink and a number of Hollywood celebrities. And even Democrats in the Senate and House. That is significant. I never even heard of him until the filibuster.

He's addressed other issues such as the NSA spying on citizens.

And decriminalizing marijuana. He explains this really, really well - and I think it is not only sensible, but compassionate. He changed my mind on that.

He explains things in a really clear way avoiding maybe some of the more extremes of his father. No offense, but I felt a bit uncomfortable with his dad's kind of extreme emotionality. That said, I think I'd like a little more emotion from Rand - he doesn't smile much - but I'm OK with that. He seems like someone who is a very logical thinker who can explain his position well, and someone of character.

I'm not saying I agree with him on everything. But he has changed my mind on some things and moved me to lean a bit libertarian myself.


Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.




paperorplastic
by Silver Member on Jun. 21, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Something to that effect.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I don't know that one off the top of my head - not worth the TP they are printed on?


Quoting paperorplastic:


Quoting Billiejeens:

Quoting paperorplastic:

He's another Republican with the same agendas.  There's only one Paul that meant anything, and now he's retired.  To bad for this country.




Ron Paul is a bigger fraud than Obama is.

Wow bi-partisanship

You know what they say about opinions ;)




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