Rand Paul: Government Shutdown I Was Totally Behind With My Floor Votes Was A “Dumb Idea”

The Junior Senator from Kentucky does some re-writing of history.

Rand Paul Filibuster

With a months worth of hindsight behind him, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul isn’t a much of a fan of the government shutdown idea as he appeared to be in late September and early October:

“Shutting down the government was a dumb idea,” Paul said on Special Report Monday night. ”Even though it did appear as if I was participating in it, I said it was a dumb idea.”

Paul also said that he was pressured into holding out for some concessions over the debt limit, saying, ”Unconditionally raising the debt ceiling, nobody at home wants me to vote for that, and I can’t vote for that. But the conundrum is, if I don’t, we do approach these deadlines.”

Here’s the video:

Now, it is true that Paul wasn’t out front on the government shutdown idea in the same way that Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were. At the same time, though, he wasn’t exactly one of the vocal critics of the idea in the way that Senators like John McCain and Tom Coburn were, and he voted with both of them at the crucial times in the Senate on various budget matters both before and after the shutdown. So there’s no small degree of rewriting of history going on here. Indeed, even Cruz and Lee themselves have toned their rhetoric down significantly in the weeks since the shutdown ended, largely because of the negative reaction it received from the public at large.

Nonetheless, this does open Paul up to some criticism for seeking to have his cake and eat it to. As one commentator to the National Review article put it, you might say that Rand Paul was against the government shutdown while he was for it. After all, if Paul thought the shutdown was a dumb idea, then why was he out there on the Senate floor, along with Lee and others like Marco Rubio, seemingly supporting Ted Cruz’s 21 hour “filibuster” of the House Continuing Resolution that, bizarrely, Cruz had urged the House to pass only to then urge his fellow Republicans in the Senate to vote against? Why wasn’t he among the dozen or so Republicans who voted for cloture on that bill? Why, for that matter, did he seemingly stand by and not say “Hey, this is a dumb idea” at any point during the run up to the shutdown or while it was going on? Why did he vote against the final deal?

The answer, obviously, is that there’s no small degree of political gamesmanship going on here. More so than other Senators associated with the Tea Party with the possible exception of Marco Rubio, Paul has been made a conscious effort to keep his political feet in both the Tea Party and “establishment” worlds. One example of the later can be seen in his early decision to forge a political alliance with his fellow Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell to the point where he has now endorsed him rather than the Tea Party candidate running against him. To the extent Paul is worried about potential challengers from Kentucky’s establishment win should he run for reelection to the Senate, this is a pretty smart move. At the same time, though, Paul needs to keep his ties to the Tea Party base that put him in the Senate and which would be the base of a campaign for President should he chose to go that route.

In other word, Rand Paul is attempting at least to be a pretty crafty politician. Taking two seemingly opposite positions on the shutdown is yet another example of all this. What the Tea Party will think about all of it, of course, is another question.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Victory has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    2nd rate Circus Clowns pretending to be Libertarians pretending to be Republicans pretending to be Conservatives pretending to Govern.
    If I had thrown a little temper tantrum that cost the Government $24B I’d be running away from it as fast as possible too.
    Can you name anything constructive these a$$wipes have accomplished since the ’11 mid-terms? It’s true…they have managed to hold back the economy and the recovery…and they have managed to impinge on the rights of women. But I said anything constructive.
    I’m no fan of Pelosi’s…but she’s right…Republicans actually do less than a family of retirees.
    The Republic would be better off without the lot of them…until they decide to start contributing again.

  3. Pete S says:

    Hopefully Mr Paul’s opponent in the next election will make clear for Kentucky voters what he thinks of them – “…nobody at home wants me to vote for…” raising the debt ceiling, so instead he voted to support “a dumb idea”. This puts in words what the Tea Party leaders think of their supporters.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    ”Even though it did appear as if I was participating in it, I said it was a dumb idea.”

    Nice passive voice there, Rand. “Even though it did appear as if I was participating in it….”? You know why it did appear that way? Because you were in fact actually participating in it.

    Take some responsibility for your own actions, man.

  5. Dave D says:

    Part of this larger problem in American politics is that before the President is even sworn in these days, everyone is already looking 4 years down the road to the next election. Everything has become more of a show for the cameras and less about actual legislating. It is sad to look at these recent congressional terms and see how absolutely little gets done. There was once a time where elected officials actually tried to solve problems instead of intentionally creating them.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    So he’s a weasel? No surprise there.

    In fact it’s not going to matter to his acolytes and adherents at all – they see him as a highly principled avatar of a new, somewhat more libertarian brand of politics.

  7. ernieyeball says:

    @Dave D: There was once a time where elected officials actually tried to solve problems instead of intentionally creating them.

    Help me. Was this before or after Tricky Dick?

  8. gVOR08 says:

    In other word, Rand Paul is attempting at least to be a pretty crafty politician.

    Nicely and precisely phrased, Doug.

    Oops, sorry. Forgot we were talking about Rand Paul, who, in other words, is attempting at least to be a crafty politician.

  9. Dan says:

    Oh, the buffoonery.

  10. Jr says:

    Has anyone 2016 stock drop as fast as Paul?

  11. Anonne says:

    @Jr: Marco Rubio, when he was actually serious about immigration reform.

  12. Grewgills says:

    Even though it did appear as if I was participating in it, I said it was a dumb idea.

    This is what happens when he writes his own material.

  13. ernieyeball says:

    “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, because I’m not myself, you see”
    Lewis Carroll

  14. Al says:

    A Paul attempting to rewrite history and completely misrepresent something they said in the past? Huh. First time for everything, I guess.

  15. James Pearce says:

    What the Tea Party will think about all of it, of course, is another question.

    I don’t think they’ll mind.

  16. Nikki says:

    Shorter Rand: “I know my base is dumber than a box of hammers. Now, let’s see if we can finally get one over on the rest of these marks..erm…um…ahem…voters..”

  17. Nikki says:

    @Dave D:

    Part of this larger problem in American politics is that before the President is even sworn in these days, everyone is already looking 4 years down the road to the next election.

    Perhaps…but we all know the REAL reason for the ratf*ck-at-all-costs Congressional SOP we’ve all been witness to — crafted prior to, but fully enacted on January 21, 2009.