• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

GOP Hawks Getting Worried About Rand Paul?

Rand Paul Filibuster

National Review’s Robert Costa reports that former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is planning to take on Rand Paul and the success that he’s had in bringing his libertarian-oriented foreign policy into the mainstream of the Republican Party:

As Paul, a Kentucky senator, plans for a 2016 presidential run, he is talking up his views on foreign policy, which, broadly speaking, include less intervention in foreign conflicts and a smaller military budget.

But Paul’s positions and rapid ascent have alarmed many Republican hawks. Behind the scenes, they’re worried that he has a shot at the nomination.

Enter John Bolton. Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is being encouraged by several leading conservative power brokers to consider a presidential bid.

Bolton, who briefly considered running for president in 2012, hasn’t made up his mind. But sources tell me that he is moving closer to giving the idea serious consideration — serious enough to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Later this year and throughout 2014, the former Reagan and Bush official will begin an informal national tour. He’ll give speeches, huddle with GOP leaders, and push back against the party’s libertarian shift. He’ll make the case for a muscular foreign policy.

Not surprisingly, the hawks on the right are pleased, as Jonathan Tobin makes clear:

[T]hough the odds are he never makes it to the starting line, let alone the finish line, the idea of a Bolton candidacy is not quite as insane as it may seem at first glance. With many Republicans starting to flock to the neo-isolationist banner put forward by Rand Paul and with many conservative activists now treating the ongoing war on Islamist terror as being not as important as their dislike of Barack Obama, it is arguable that there is no longer a solid Republican consensus in favor of a strong American foreign policy. Though some of the other possible candidates do differ from Paul about the impulse to pull back from a forward posture abroad, none have prioritized that issue. If Bolton is even talking about what would probably be a quixotic run it is only because he knows it is vital for there to be a vigorous debate about foreign and defense policy so as to turn back the Paulite push.

(…)

Paul is certain to be a first-tier candidate and strong showings by him in primaries and caucuses could encourage other contenders to start to echo him in an attempt to please war-weary and libertarian-inclined voters. That will leave an opening for someone to speak up on foreign affairs, and perhaps Bolton feels it might as well be a candidate who actually understands the issues.

It is to be hoped that Paul will find himself challenged on foreign and defense policy in 2016 by stronger opposition than a former ambassador who isn’t likely to win a delegate. But though it will probably crash before it takes off, the Bolton trial balloon shows us that there is a desperate need for a GOP foreign policy debate that will head off the surge for Paul.

The fact that the hawks on the right feel it necessary to trod out John Bolton, who seems to have no popularity or credibility outside the Republican Party seems to me to be a sign of how concerned they are that Paul’s foreign policy positions may end up resonating with the GOP base. If you look at recent polls, it’s clear that Republicans are  just as skeptical of an adventurous foreign policy as the rest of America after a decade of war. For example, there’s as little support for American involvement in Syria, even to the limited extent of providing arms to the Syrian rebels, as there is among the American public as a whole. The  public reaction to the revelations about NSA data mining have struck a chord with the public as a whole, and most especially with Republicans, although that may be due in no small part to the fact that these were revelations about the actions of a Democratic case. Finally, Senator Paul’s nearly 13 hour filibuster in March became so popular among the Republican base online that even hawkish Senators like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, not to mention Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, felt compelled to come to the floor of the Senate to lend their voices to his effort whether they agreed with it our not. All of this is happening while hawks in the party like John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Congressman Mike Rogers, and others are calling for more intervention in Syria than the President has proposed and defended things like the NSA surveillance programs. For the most part, their words seem to be falling on deaf ears with the Republican base.

Given all of this, it’s understandable that the hawks in the GOP might be just a little worried that Paul’s message will resonate with the base should he decided to run for President and that his efforts to pull the GOP away from its current interventionist foreign policy will actually be met with success. As unlikely as this actually seems given the GOP’s history in this area, it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. What I have to wonder, though, is why anyone would think that Bolton is the guy to take Paul on, either as a Presidential candidate or just a talking head. As I’ve noted, he doesn’t really have much credibility outside the hawkish circles inside the GOP in which he travels, and he’s hardly someone that should be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate in 2016. Is it that other more political hawks like Rubio and Cruz aren’t willing to take up the fight right now? If that’s the case, then it could be a signal that the Bush-era views that Bolton represents may be more out of style inside the party than it appears from a distance. If that’s the case, then it’s a good thing. In any event, it would certainly be interesting to have a real foreign policy debate inside the GOP, we haven’t had one of those in a very long time.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Sam Malone says:

    John Bolton for President is just incrementally more insane than Rand Paul for President.
    Anyone seriously discussing either possibility should seek professional help.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 10

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The public reaction to the revelations about NSA data mining have struck a chord with the public as a whole, and most especially with Republicans, although that may be due in no small part to the fact that these were revelations about the actions of a Democratic case.

    Gee…. Ya think? If any one has the time or inclination they can check and see how loud were their complaints when Bush engaged in his warrant-less wiretaps…. Nah, don’t bother. We already know.

    If that’s the case, then it’s a good thing. In any event, it would certainly be interesting to have a real foreign policy debate inside the GOP, we haven’t had one of those in a very long time.

    It would be nice, but I won’t be holding my breath. I suspect nobody serious will directly confront him, instead just hoping he goes away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. stonetools says:

    @Sam Malone:

    SHHHHHH.
    Don’t tell the Republicans that. Like Napoleon Bonaparte said :

    Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  4. rudderpedals says:

    The interventionists can do better than Bolton. It’s still early. Bolton’s a stalking horse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    If I were Priebus, I’d be a great deal more worried that the two ostensible contenders currently being viewed as viable for the nomination are:

    A has-been Ambassador (that most people wouldn’t know from the man in the moon, and the few that do tend to violently dislike the man), or;

    A Libertarian trying to pretend that he’s a Republican (in the current “how far to the right can we go?!?!” context of the word)

    Speaking as an ostensible Republican (again, of the Eisenhower variety), that my party has been reduced – or more appropriately put has reduced itself – to this sort of clown car nonsense is depressing. Looks like I’ll be voting D again …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  6. They should be worried. If the GOP goes in Paul’s direction, the hawk’s will have no choice but to start voting Democrat.

    Also:

    Finally, Senator Paul’s nearly 13 hour filibuster in March became so popular among the Republican base online that even hawkish Senators like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, not to mention Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, felt compelled to come to the floor of the Senate to lend their voices to his effort whether they agreed with it our not.

    It would be a mistake to see this as testament to Paul’s rising popularity on the right, when really it’s not thing more than cynicism from all the folks name-checked here.

    Rand Paul wouldn’t have dared try his stunt in the Bush years and none of these people would have rallied to him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  7. Caj says:

    GOP are worried about Rand Paul! The whole country should be worried about Rand Paul. This guy is one brick short of a load. He can be president by all means but not of this country!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

  8. stonetools says:

    @rudderpedals:

    The interventionists can do better than Bolton. It’s still early. Bolton’s a stalking horse

    Agreed. I’m betting that the big money will go for Governor Goodhair from Texas with new handlers and a fresh coat of paint. But TBH, he is still really, really stupid. There may be just no way to hide that.
    Christie just gave a shout out to the base by saying that he would still veto an SSM bill.He might be the front runner right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. Gee says:

    Lower defense spending = lower taxes.

    Cutting the defense budget in half = ending the Income Tax and IRS.

    This Republican is all for it.

    I stand with Rand. Take a hike, Bolton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  10. JohnMcC says:

    @rudderpedals: “Bolton’s a stalking horse.”

    You are correct Mr Pedals. From the Washington Examiner of 21 June: “Sen Ted Cruz, R Texas, is reportedly interested in running for President in 2016. Lately he’s started to make some noise on the the foreign policy front…. Cruz took to the Senate floor yesterday to fault President Obama for arming Syrian rebels…. He made that speech one day after issuing a response to Obama’s speech in Berlin…”

    If Sen Rubio continues to suffer because of ‘amnesty’ and Rep Ryan fails to light any fires of enthusiasm, that leaves only Gov Christie or Gov Jindal to try to edge into the ’16 presidential race.

    Gosh, and they were so proud of their great ‘bench’! All we are is dust in the wind, I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. stonetools says:

    Man, the clash between red state GOP hawks who are going to want to keep those bases in the South open and the tea party folks who want to slash spending no matter what is going to be a sight to behold.
    Time to stock up on the popcorn.
    The sequestration cuts are just beginning to bite the DOD folks here in Virginia and they are NOT happy.Multiply that by all the people in and around bases in Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas, etc, and we will really see how much people like limited government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gee:

    Lower defense spending = lower taxes.

    Cutting the defense budget in half = ending the Income Tax and IRS.

    This Republican is all for it.

    I stand with Rand. Take a hike, Bolton.

    Honk If You’re Horny

    Jesus is Coming – LOOK BUSY!

    Keep Honking – I’m Reloading

    I figured as long as bumper stickers (judging from your commentary) were the game of the day, I’d play along …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @JohnMcC:

    It would be so great if the GOP ran another unlikable assh0le, and Cruz makes Romney look cuddly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. Woody says:

    @Gee:

    There is scant likelihood of the GOP cutting defense spending (Dems only marginally more likely), even if Senator Paul becomes a viable candidate.

    The defense iron triangle transcends party politics – neither party dares to seriously cut spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Woody:

    Everybody says that they hate government spending. What they mean is that they hate EVERYBODY ELSE’S government spending. They love their own.

    Don’t believe me? Propose the closing of a military base, then sit back and wait for the caterwauling and rending of garments to begin …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @stonetools:

    Christie just gave a shout out to the base by saying that he would still veto an SSM bill.He might be the front runner right now.

    In a sane world, Christie would be an ostensible frontrunner, or at the least a highly viable candidate. In the world of the crazy GOP early caucus states, not so much.

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate – if the leadership is actually serious about stopping this downhill slide that we’re on as a party, forcing those states to convert to primaries wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

    As it is, our inmates are running our asylum – because the wardens are too afraid of them to do anything about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. rudderpedals says:

    @stonetools: Perry you think? I think you’re right and he runs again. It’ll be for naught since there’s no good way to spin a really unfortunate dependence on painkillers to treat serious chronic pain issues. And the TBH part too, also.

    @JohnMcC: I haven’t thought a lot about Cruz. Can he pass the birther question? Regarding Marco it’s up or out for him He lucked into a split amongst the dems that won’t happen again even if he gets past the next round of primaries. There’s no chance he keeps his Senate seat.

    It’ll be exciting once it gets started. Santorum’s the next in line, the cast of grifters is sure to be huge, and maybe we get Cheney Jr.-ette or Jeb! to come in. S.E. Cupp too – she’s in training.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Judging from the number of likes and dislikes, I’d say that we’ve been invaded by Ronulans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  19. Gmartine says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The Ron Paul supporters were very active against Bush’s invasion of privacy programs and were heavily against the Patriot Act.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Andre Kenji says:

    1-) Bolton has the charisma of a potato. He is not going to survive the debates.

    2-) People like Rand Paul are the future of the GOP. John Bolton and Jonathan Tobin are part of the past of the GOP. I´m not saying that Paul is going to be nominated, nor that the GOP will go full Libertarian.

    But most of the GOP new stars are closer to Paul than Bolton on policy. Even people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz aren’t willing to endorse endless neocon warmongering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Hostile Elite vs Gullible White Cattle says:

    @Sam Malone:
    blood sucking parasites like you are allowed free speech. now that is freedom. this is not left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war against White people.

    Why do hostile globalist elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with non-White colonization?

    The world is 93% non-White, only 7% White. But 3rd world colonizers, Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

    How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

    “Native” Americans invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

    Gullible Whites should reject subversive ideologies- libertarianism, feminism, liberalism- & reject hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: goo.gl/iB777 , goo.gl/htyeq , amazon.com/dp/0759672229 , amazon.com/dp/1410792617

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  22. rachel says:

    @Hostile Elite vs Gullible White Cattle: Speaking of seeking professional help…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Hostile Elite vs Gullible White Cattle says:

    @rachel:
    thats what the soviet jews did to solzhenitsyn. gave him “professional” help. Jew has become the psychiatrist in judgement of white people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  24. Barry says:

    @stonetools: “… and the tea party folks who want to slash spending no matter what is going to be a sight to behold.
    Time to stock up on the popcorn.”

    The day that they really want to cut spending on one of *their* pet causes will be the First of Never.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. Ken says:

    Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites

    I understand not wanting to overreact to the occasional racist rant, but when someone simply copytpastes the same exact white suprermacist garbage into thread after thread after thread, not to mention dozens of other threads on other sites, isn’t it about time to block this douchebags IP address already?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  26. Hostile Elite vs Gullible White Cattle says:

    @Ken:
    According to your logic, libertarians have been running the same message for decades. so they should be banned…You frothing hate-filled toad.
    Staying on message means consistency.
    How dare you call me supremacist, you evil, anti-white supremacist? You raving, parasitic lunatic!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5