Does Rand Paul Have A Future In The GOP?
Rand Paul's filibuster has made him a darling among conservatives but it may not last.
Timothy Noah argues that the current fascination on the right with Rand Paul, and the extent to which conservatives have rallied behind him in the wake of his filibuster last week, will only last for so long:
Remember Chuck Hagel? Former Republican senator from Nebraska? Just before the sequester hit Hagel was confirmed as defense secretary, but his margin washistorically narrow because nearly every Senate Republican opposed him. (Paul was one of only four GOP yeas.) The president named a Republican to be secretary of defense, and Senate Republicans (including, for very foggy reasons, Paul) actually gave serious thought to filibustering the nomination. Much of the Republican resistance to Hagel was based, childishly, on the mere fact that Obama wanted him. But much of it was based on Hagel’s having taken positions on national security issues that his fellow Republicans judged unacceptably dovish—and Hagel isn’t nearly as dovish as Paul is. If Hagel proved unacceptable to the GOP, it’s inconceivable that Paul—who less than one month before the 2012 election published an op-ed condemning Mitt Romney for being too hawkish in the Middle East and too willing to increase Pentagon spending—will ever pass muster. And by “the GOP” I don’t just mean GOP politicians. I mean voters, too. Those Reagan Democrats whom Paul thinks he can woo in California, New England, and the Great Lakes? They’re pretty hawkish. They won’t vote for a candidate who’s weaker on defense than Barack Obama is. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes that Paul’s libertarianism on national security issues “will remain cool with his party only as long as the GOP remains out of the White House.” I disagree. I think it will remain cool with his party only as long as the GOP dwells in Sequesterland. Once that little matter gets resolved, Paul will go back to being an oddball. I’m not saying he won’t try to get elected president—after all, it runs in the family—but he will never inhabit the “top tier of Republican players.” That it looks like he might right now is just a quirk of circumstances.
Daniel Larison disagrees:
It’s true that Sen. Paul will continue to face significant resistance inside the party on foreign policy, and he will almost certainly face at least as much hostility from party hard-liners as Hagel did if he ever competes for the presidential nomination. Having said that, Noah gets a few things wrong. The first is that hard-line foreign policy is much more important to national Republican politicians and pundits than it is to most Republican voters. There is not that much enthusiasm among rank-and-file Republicans for new wars or a party leadership that seems dedicated to keeping the U.S. at war forever. There is a growing constituency inside the party that rejects both. As long as Rubio and McCain are the most well-known alternatives to Paul, Paul will most likely be well-received by a growing number of Republican voters. Outside the GOP, there are even fewer Americans interested in the sort of foreign policy that Hagel-bashers prefer. Hard-liners have already contributed to three Republican national losses. It seems likely that the voters alienated by Bush-era foreign policy incompetence and “omni-directional belligerence” are more likely to gravitate back to the party if there is good reason to expect that the next Republican administration will do its best to avoid rather than start new wars, and persuading those voters to come back and to turn out is an important part of assembling a winning coalition. Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush can’t do that, and probably don’t want to try.
As a preliminary matter, I think that Noah is placing far too much importance on the Sequester as a reason for why many conservatives have seemingly rallied around Paul over the drone issue. At least at the moment, the impact of the Sequester seems to be entirely superficial. Even the White House has begun to walk back many of the doomsday claims there were making about the Sequester’s impact on Federal Government operations and the economy. Moreover, at this point the GOP seems united behind the idea of letting the Sequester stay in place absent a comprehensive budget reform plan that includes entitlement reform. Since that seems pretty unlikely at this point, I would suggest that the Sequester is here to stay and that most Republicans have accepted that fact. Trying to tie in the rallying around Paul last week to the Sequester is, well, a complete non sequiter.
Notwithstanding that, though, Noah does raise a valid point here. I’ve long had my doubts about how far Senator Paul could actually go as a national political figure given the fact that he holds positions on foreign policy and civil liberties that are not exactly consistent with what one would consider to be the mainstream of Republican thought. While Senator Paul has tended to cut a slightly different path on foreign policy than his father did, it’s fairly clear that the foreign policy vision that he supports, which I once referred to as a foreign policy of self-interested non-interventionism. Of course, as I noted at the time, Paul’s vision isn’t exactly in the majority inside the GOP:
Of course, Paul’s vision is very much in the minority in the Republican Party, even though in many ways it is closer to the mainstream of American public opinion than the interventionism espoused by people like John Bolton and Newt Gingrich, and eagerly and completely adopted by Mitt Romney throughout the 2012 campaign. Indeed, more often than not someone who expresses ideas similar to Senator Paul’s among other Republicans and conservatives ends up being called, falsely, an isolationist, a word that still seems to retain some sense of being a slur even though its been some 75 years or more since the pre-World War II “American First” crowd was a thing. It’s not a fair or accurate representation of the ideas that Senator Paul is talking about here, but it is used by many on the right as a way of attempting to silence debate on foreign policy issues. While it doesn’t seem to be nearly as effective as it used to be given that there are a growing number of Republicans, in the House, who are willing to break from GOP orthodoxy on issues such as the Afghanistan War and the defense sequestration cuts, it’s still used and, especially among activists it still works. Call someone an “isolationist” and that give other people an excuse to just ignore them rather than giving their ideas the consideration they deserve. That may be the fate that awaits Senator Paul.
I dunno, Doug. There is a rapidly growing libertarian wing of the GOP, many of them young, and they will displace the older, more neoconservative Republicans. There is already a chunk of them fed up with CPAC. We already saw the outrage when Boehner sacked Amash, and there were a ton of people standing with Rand in spirit, if not on the Senate floor.
Does that mean that Rand will be in president in 2016? While I would really, really like him to be president, I’m not sure. I don’t know if the base will be there for a 2016 presidency. But it’s coming. Oh lordy is it coming.
If the GOP has no future, does it matter?
Or to frame the question in a less snarky way: Where is the path to relevancy for the GOP? They are not the party of fiscal responsibility. They are not the party of budgetary realism. They are not the party of foreign policy realism. They are not the party of immigration realism. They are not the party of women’s health realism. Anybody else’s health either for that matter. They have a sitting member on the House Science Committee who said, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” And it only gets worse from there.
If Rand Paul is trapped within today’s GOP, it really doesn’t matter does it?
(superdestroyer, I have now posted your question for you)
Paul is the flavor du jour…amongst a party desperate for something…anything.
But I have to take exception to this piece of propaganda:
“…Moreover, at this point the GOP seems united behind the idea of letting the Sequester stay in place absent a comprehensive budget reform plan that includes entitlement reform…”
I think you meant to type:
Revenues are the reason behind everything f’ed up thing the Republicans touch…whether it is the faux debt ceiling crisis and subsequent credit downgrade…the failure of Simpson/Bowles…the Grand Bargain…or the sequester.
Entitlements have always been…and continue to be on the table.
Indeed one senator who attended the White House dinner last week came away suprised to learn for the first time about the actual cuts that the president has put on the table…it seems Leadership hadn’t shared that list with them before.
I guess that Senator was wrapped in the same epitemic closure as you are.
But keep pumping out that baseless propaganda…we’ve come to expect no less.
Jeremy, there is a reason Libertarians consistently get only 4-5% of the vote when running outside of the GOP, just saying I don’t think there is any “there” there.
What does one have to do to be considered “strong”on national defense by the right? Is it bring back the great white fleet, defer to Tel Aviv on national security policy, or both?
That’s what I thought, 30 years ago!
(They are still raising a lot of fundamentalists out there, and not just in the fly-over states.)
the definition of a strong national defense for Republicans is to abdicate middle east policy to Netanyahoo. Period. End of discussion.
The “rapidly growing libertarian wing” is always just about ready to topple the social conservatives that effectively run the GOP but they never actually do. The fact that they vote in the primaries and are damned near monolithic make them a far too tempting target to ignore. (That the young and libertarians tend to be neither doesn’t help either.)
Plus, this is a Paul we’re talking about here. There’s far too much baggage in that name for him to seriously play outside of Kentucky.
“there is a reason Libertarians consistently get only 4-5% of the vote when running outside of the GOP”
And that reason will never be understood by Libertarians.. 🙂
In other words: “To the extent Paul is aligned with Democratic principles, he could be a successful Republican candidate.”
Everybody, apparently, gets 3-7 days as the Republican front-runner.
Let’s say Rand Paul wins the republican contest to become president in 2016, what are his chances of success in a general election? How are general election voters going to see him? Maybe I don’t know a lot about Paul but he strikes me as someone who strictly adheres to a certain set of principles, he’s not flexible enough. General election voters are going to be looking for someone that is pragmatic, someone that proposes solutions that adequately addresses their concerns, someone that is best suited to working with others to bring about these solutions. I’m not sure that general election voters are going to find what they are looking for when they look at Rand Paul, and that will likely count against him in a republican primary contest. One more thing, Paul was very incoherent on Hagel, another negative for him.
Two different questions: Paul and libertarianism.
Paul: Is nuts. Can’t prove it, but I feel it. He has Scientology eyes. Fanatic’s eyes.
Libertarianism: Is a political philosophy that is already laughably out of date and irrelevant and will only become more so.
So, crazy plus irrelevant? Normally that is the definition of the GOP. But is the right kind of crazy? Not so sure about that.
In other words, any one but a Republican?
He’s crazy, but he’s a different kind of crazy than the GOP.
Invade at least one country populated with people of darker complexion at least once every 2-4 years. That usually does the trick.
When do I get my turn?
@john personna: Same for me, except it was closer to 20 years ago.
Explanation: young people tend to be idealistic.
Alternate hypothesis: he’s a states’ rights conservative just like his father & generations of previous conservatives.
You are penciled in from 12-16 February 2015. Enjoy!
Bide your time, OzarkHillbilly, eventually you’ll be a Republican if demographics keep on their current path.
FYI…Paul is pro-life and anti-gay-marriage so he’s not really a Libertarian…he’s just another hypocritical Reublican who claims to be for small government…but insists on controlling a women’s reproductive rights and who you can marry.
In a word: no.
I’m still torn about what kind of person Paul really is, but it’s irrelevant to the question Doug asks. If Paul really is the idealist he plays (albeit a wrong-headed and poorly educated idealist), he will be soundly rejected by the GOP base. He will eventually make a moral stand on something the Base considers sacrosanct, and he’ll never be welcomed to all the right cocktail (or moonshine) parties again. Alternatively, if Paul is just another venal, moral-standard-of-the-week Republican, he’ll dump every moral tenet he ever claimed as soon as he gets within sniffing distance of the nomination (see: Bush, J.)
Also, I like Rand’s dad better.
COOL!!!!! Can’t hardly wait!
Isn’t this sort of like asking whether Chuck Hagel has a future in Israeli politics?
In any event, Paul like his father before him will run for president. Guaranteed. And given that the minimum voting age is about 15 years too low, along with basic cognitive testing (Wechslers, MMPI, etc.) not being required to cast ballots, he’ll garner a material amount of votes. He’ll do especially well in caucus states, where small tails are able to wag much larger dogs. He’ll do even better in the low-population density caucus states, where the sort of people who show up for Saturday a.m. caucuces make extras on The Walking Dead appear sentient and reasonable. And at the end of the day he’ll accomplish . . . nothing. Save perhaps for contributing to some extent to another Democrat becoming president, with the ensuing irony being lost on his most ardent supporters.
Many fine comments above, but my take on why Sen. Paul is so popular right now is that he is the lone person with an ‘R’ next to his name that can be filmed actually doing something (the fact that his filibuster was a public rebuke of Obama is another significant factor).
Since many prominent Democrats are troubled by the drone / assassination policies of the Democratic President, Paul’s actions are deemed Bipartisan and thus A Positive Development by the courtier media.
Note that the actual policies are strongly supported by Americans. Since the courtier media do not find non-V. S. P. opinions to be of value, the fact that Sen. Paul’s position is unpopular and unsupported by the majority of either party’s leadership does not matter.
Again, we political nuts are interested in policy. We value consistency, and are willing to dive into the weeds to find data that supports our positions. The majority of Americans (and the courtier media) do not.
Not much chance of that JKB. The GOP as constructed now wouldn’t have me, and I just don’t see how they can change it. I mean, until my sons were 6 + 4 years old, they thought I was black, and we all know people of color aren’t welcome there. Besides, unlike you and superduperdestroyer, I am not afraid of the blahs taking over the country. Also, at 54 yrs ancient, I am too old to change who I pick for my friends.
This doesn’t seem correct to me. The House version of the upcoming CR restores the Defense spending cut by sequestration and even appropriates $2B more than the Administration even requested:
The reason the GOP was/is mostly sanguine about the sequestration Defense cuts is they always assumed, because of the politics of defense & the defense lobby, those cuts would be the first and the easiest to be restored.
Ah, hell. “Wechsler’s.” “Caucuses.”
Self-parody, I guess.
One other point about Paul is germane: Hamilton was right and Jefferson was wrong. QED.
TPM has an interesting take on Paul’s sudden appeal to the right wing nut cases…
That certainly describes Doug and Tsar and
JenosIndiana Jones and Superdope…today’s Republican Party.
There are a plethora of Republican governors, former Sec. of State, fmr National Security Advisor, members of the House of Representatives, fmr presidential candidates, etc. that would seem to negate that statement. Maybe it’s because these individuals aren’t treated as affirmative action tokens that has you confused?
Oh, and you don’t have to pick your friends by political affiliation, that is a particular Progressive trait to not befriend those with differing opinions and independent thoughts.
I was just reminded that Rand Paul is also against the ADA…
Anti-women, Anti-gay, Anti-wheelchair and Anti-guide dog.
Toss in his belief that businesses should not have to cater to blacksor hispanics or gays or women if they don’t want to…
A near perfect Republican.
No wonder Doug loves this guy.
@Tsar Nicholas: I love the dedicated internet troll advocating mental health tests for voters before they can cast a ballot. Does he really think he’s the guy who’d pass?
@Tsar Nicholas: “Self-parody, I guess.”
Sure seems like it sometime. But then I guess the layers of irony are lost on you like a pink neon elephant rising in the east.
Did you see the RNC? Look at the crowds out on the floor? Watch any Romney campaign events? Take a gander at those who attended? If you did, you would have to be willfully stupid to conclude that the people you single out are anything but affirmative action tokens. But I am not surprised that you can not tell the difference.
As to picking my “friends by political affiliation”…. funny that that was how you took that statement of mine. I was talking about not picking my friends based on the color of their skin, but rather on the content of their character. But again, I am not surprised at your difficulty in telling the difference.
If you’re asking can he rise to Senate leader, the answer is “yes, but not for a very long time from now.”
However, if you’re asking can he become the GOP’s presidential nominee, the answer is a resounding “no” because of all the blatant racists that his candidacy would attract during the primaries. The party elite would never allow that to happen.
Yea, the GOP – packed to the rafters with George Zimmermann cheerleaders. “Breathing while black” makes one suspect with that crew…
Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 10:24
In some states it is illegal to pass on the right. In most places you are begging for an ass whupping… or at least a handful of ball bearings thru your windshield.
Well you’ve got the qualifications to be Attorney General in a Republican administration.
As we all know it is illegal in all 50 states to violate the speed limit. But hey, screw the law.
John Mitchell would have been proud of you.
I like how it has to be the foreign policy issues that would cause those “hawkish” dems in the flyover states to not side with him. Not the fact that he wastes time on the floor introducing crazy conspiracy theories from WND to introduce into the senate record. Hopefully so future generations can look back and think my lord Kentucky actually voted for this man. Or how he handled himself during the Hagel nomination. All the crazy sh*t he does and says, can’t possibly be why he will only ever be a marginal candidate. I know its his “isolationist” stance on foreign policy. But don’t forget Benghazi gun running to Syrian Rebels. Chuck Hagel’s ties with Friends of Hamas. And don’t the nation weather service is buying all those hollow point bullets. But rest assured Doug when this loon doesn’t go anywhere nationally it’s because he isn’t a hawk.
I’m sure Rand Paul would get a lot of minority votes given his stand on the Civil Right Act of 1964. Because we all know that the South would have voluntarily desegregated because of economic self-interest. His brand of libertarianism is just another cloacked version of “I’m white and screw anyone else who isn’t”.
I don’t know about Rand Paul, but good old principled Ron Paul had no problem lending his name to racist newsletters as long as it was making him a buck.
@C. Clavin: In other words, a moden Republican – he hits all the right buttons.
Really? Name one. One < plethora
Well, it’s JKB. Is he lying, or is he simply an ignoramus?
Recently Rand Paul did everything but “accidentally” refer to Chuck Hagel as Chuck Hamas. So yes, Rand has a bright future in the Republican Party.
You assume it’s one or the other…a false dicotomy.
I say he’s simply a lying ignoramus.
A little background on the man the GOP chickenshits are implying is a terrorist sympathiser:
Never forget the power of the word AND.
Rand Paul (link):
Sounds like the kind of thing a Friend of Hamas might say.
Yes, he is going to be labeled as an ‘isolationist,’ and this is going to sink him with the gun-loving, war-loving base.
Paul is a smarmy fake. I would say there is a place for him.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but liberal whites will never turn to the GOP in its present insane/stupid form…perhaps the party will evolve into something better, but that would cause people like you to turn away from the party and where would such people go? Stormfront, perhaps…