Rand Paul is running for President. If you’re shocked, you haven’t been paying attention (you might want to “eductate” yourself on the matter. Yes, I am referring to how education was misspelled on his campaign website, and YouTube has already blocked his announcement video).
In his honor, I thought it would be fun to go over some of his highlights from his time in politics to demonstrate his effectiveness as a candidate.
But before I proceed, I have a quick note about his slogan, which is “Defeat the Washington machine, unleash the American dream.”
Sure, it’s catchy. But there are two problems with it from the onset. The first is, of course, he is a senator and works in, you guessed it, Washington (this isn’t a bad thing per se, but it makes it hard for him to run against the establishment if he is working in the dreaded DC).
The other problem has less to do with his slogan and more to do with one of his main policy propositions: term limits. Rand is the only candidate who thinks he’s important enough to not only run for President, but also to keep his Senate seat.
The only other Senator who is up for reelection who in 2016 who is considering running for President is Marco Rubio, but he has made it clear that he won’t run for both offices simultaneously.
Keep in mind that in 2012, Paul Ryan ran for both Vice President and Congress (and for that matter, so did Joe Biden in 2008), but Paul’s case is truly unique, since Ryan didn’t seek to change the law to get himself a special exemption.
Kentucky law makes it very clear that a candidate can’t appear on a ballot more than once, and since Republicans failed to take over the State House last November, Paul’s allies failed to pass a bill allowing him to run.
His next moves on this issue are uncertain, and I’m sure I’ll write more about it later, so let’s turn to some of the highlights from Rand’s career…so far.
5) Let’s start with a simple story: Rand Paul endorsed Greg Brannon in last year’s North Carolina Senate primary. Sure, this sounds routine enough, right?
Consider that Brannon founded a website in 2009 claiming that both the Aurora theater shooting and Boston Marathon bombing were false flag operations, and issued concern about the dangers of fluoridated water (you read that correctly). But wait, there’s more. He also told a self-described 9/11 truther that “things like this have to be asked.”
To be fair, Ron Paul has had countless truther moments himself (going so far as to advocate for a commission headed up by Dennis Kucinich to further investigate), so I wasn’t shocked when his son endorsed someone with similar views to his father on this.
Leon Wolf put it well towards the end of the 2012 campaign, writing that:
“I don’t know why anyone would be so hopelessly naive as to believe that Ron Paul didn’t know about the racist and paranoid ramblings that appeared for years and years in his highly profitable newsletter. Ron Paul has built an entire political career off of pandering to the paranoid and hate filled when he thinks no one is looking, as his numerous appearances on the Alex Jones show will attest. The suggestion that he somehow broke with this tradition when it came to his own newsletter simply beggars the imagination. Ron Paul’s many fawning sycophants like to pretend that Ron Paul’s problem is that he is despised by the Establishment because he’s too pure in his love for the Constitution. The reality is that Ron Paul hasn’t been given nearly the shunning he deserves for his paranoid insanity or his coddling of racism throughout his entire career. Frankly, I think Ron Paul’s retirement at the end of this campaign will be the best thing to happen to the GOP in decades.”
Sure, everyone endorses bad candidates every once in a while, but Brannon really stands out as being one of the worst from the past cycle. However, it does show the balance Rand is striving to find between his father’s nutcase supporters and actual Republicans.
4) Wolf’s mentioning of Ron Paul’s newsletter is a good segue into the next highlight, which is about some of Rand’s own writings, specifically the book he co-wrote with a man known to many as simply, the “Southern Avenger.”
The Free Beacon exhaustedly reported some of Jack Hunter’s most inflammatory comments, which include defending the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (writing that John Wilkes Booth’s heart “was in the right place,” while also toasting Booth’s birth every year), chairing a chapter of The League of the South, accusing America of going to war on Israel’s behalf, claiming that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the moral equivalent to the attacks on America on 9/11, etc. etc. etc.
Hunter also confirmed Paul’s statement that “any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States” wasn’t actually a belief that Rand has. Rather, Paul was merely “play[ing] the game,” adding that “The philosophy hasn’t substantively changed [from Ron Paul to Rand Paul]. The methods and style most certainly have.”
Sure, this isn’t about Rand specifically, but his hiring (and retention for a while) of a staffer like this definitely doesn’t bode well. The fact that someone who has been so familiar with the thinking of both Pauls confirming what many on the Right believe to be the case about Rand’s position on Israel only harms his case further.
3) Hunter’s claims about Rand and Israel lead nicely into one of Rand’s greater delusions about his past. First off, let’s be clear about his past opposition to Kirk-Menendez Iran sanctions, which has broad bipartisan support.
Rand’s claim that “I haven’t really proposed [phasing out aid to Israel] in the past” garnered a “Pants on Fire” rating from PolitiFact (to be clear, this is far from the first time he’s denied his previous positions).
Why is this so false? Easy. In 2011, he proposed a budget that would “eliminate all international assistance” as a “policy proposal.” Claiming that this doesn’t include Israel is hopelessly naive. In several subsequent interviews, Paul restated his claim that his budget would in fact cut all aid to Israel. Of course, since then, he’s realized that this position is untenable. However, his attempts to hide from (and deliberately lie about) his previous position on an issue that’s so important to Republicans bodes poorly for the future. His labelling of Christian conservatives who support Israel as “war mongers” also doesn’t help his cause (yet he also praised Bashar al Assad for protecting Christians).
2) His alternate history has extremely significant consequences (and is also just plain wrong, and if that article isn’t enough, here’s another). In his own telling, US sanctions on Japan were partly to blame for their attack on Pearl Harbor.
“There are times when sanctions have made it worse. I mean, there are times .. leading up to World War II we cut off trade with Japan. That probably caused Japan to react angrily. We also had a blockade on Germany after World War I, which may have encouraged them … some of their anger.”
This is something I would expect Dennis Kucinich to say. Or Ron Paul. Or, for that matter, Rand Paul.
In light of the ongoing negotiations with Iran, we can’t afford a president who seems to favor appeasement over taking the necessarily tough stance.
1) His complete opposition to the vast majority of Republicans on national security sets a pretty low ceiling for him. Comparing Edward Snowden to MLK makes absolutely no sense, yet, you guessed it, Paul has made it. As Aaron Goldstein wrote in The American Spectator:
“The greatest responsibility of the President of the United States is to protect Americans at home and abroad. That the junior Senator from Kentucky is unwilling to recognize the harm that Snowden’s actions could bring indicates that there must be a suspicion that Paul has been duped. If Paul can be duped by a high school dropout (albeit a computer literate high school dropout), then what chance in hell does he stand against Putin and Xi Jinping? There must also be a suspicion that protecting America’s national security secrets would not be a priority for a Paul Administration. If Rand Paul is elected President, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot more Edward Snowdens come out of the woodwork. There could be a Snowden born every minute.”
To me, the fact that Snowden is a high school dropout is irrelevant, but the point he makes about Rand being so willing to believe everything Snowden–who, keep in mind, went on a widely panned “oppression tour” to countries responsible for, ironically enough, some of the largest cyber attacks–absolutely casts doubt on his abilities to keep us safe.
This list is by no means exhaustive (which is unfortunate). Do Republicans really want a nominee who opposes almost everything we stand for? He has said that if it’s him against Hillary that it will be a “transformational” election, and it’s pretty obvious what he means by that since he’s called her a “war hawk.”
There’s a reason that an article in The Daily Caller labelled Rand as “Obama’s favorite foreign policy Republican.” If voters want a candidate who agrees with Obama (and on some issues, such as drone strikes), is actually to the left of him, they can vote for Hillary Clinton. If Republicans think nominating someone like Rand is our best shot at the White House, we have some serious thinking to do (one of my favorite examples of this is a Red State OpEd that tracked his position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as going from “pacifist” to “statesmanlike” to “tough” to “cross[ing] between Reagan and Eisenhower,” ultimately asking “why is Rand Paul acting like a slobbering idiot?”).
I tell Democrats that if they want a pro-Iraq War, pro-Wall Street, pro-death penalty candidate, they should vote for Hillary. If Republicans want a McGovern-style candidate who has no hesitation to blame America first (even when it is completely contradictory to history), they should hope that Bernie Sanders runs for President.