You may remember last month when I wrote, Why Republicans Will Nominate Rand Paul in 2016. The basis of my argument was that Rand Paul’s current position on foreign affairs would never be palatable to the Republican base. Lucky for Paul that he doesn’t seem to have any commitment to his stated ideology, so he will simply become a generic (extreme) Republican by the time the primary really starts next year. But he will maintain the libertarian brand that so flatters the base. No one else can really touch that.
Today, Charlie Pierce brought my attention to the latest example of Paul’s “evolution” (or: “shameless pandering”) on his way to the Republican presidential nomination, For the Benefit of Mr Paul. Back in 2011, Rand Paul proposed a bill that would end foreign aid to all countries in the Middle East — including the untouchable country, Israel. Last month he claimed that he never proposed doing this. He also noted that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
At that time, his comments were mostly about Israel. One can’t be neutral toward Israel and be a mainstream national politician in this country. If American has “exceptionalism,” then Israel has “super-duper exceptionalism.” One would think Paul would have realized this long ago. But if there is anything that Rand Paul’s career has shown, it is that he isn’t all that smart, and he surrounds himself with similarly capable sub-subgeniuses.
Last week, the Associated Press explained Paul’s new position, Perry, Paul Bash Obama for “No Strategy” on Syria.
Other than tipping his hat to the Constitutional mandate to seek Congressional authorization for starting yet another war in the Middle East, I don’t see this as anything different from America’s favorite comedy duo, McCain & Graham. And that is the point. Paul is well on the road to getting rid of the few libertarian ideals he has left, while maintaining the “libertarian” brand.
It isn’t hard to do. Libertarians believe in having a military (or at least a militia) that will defend against invading hordes. It just isn’t hard to move from that to defining any group we don’t like as an existential threat allowing for the permanent war we now have. And for that matter, it isn’t much further to making a “libertarian” argument for throwing Charles Schenck in jail for arguing against World War I.
Next be prepared for Rand Paul to do a little hedging on his support for cannabis legalization. “I’ve only ever been in favor of legalization if we absolutely positively can keep it out of the hands of children!” But we aren’t able to absolutely positively keep alcohol out of the hands of children. Isn’t that an absurd criterion for legalization? “I’ve am in favor of legalization if we absolutely positively can keep it out of the hands of children!”
On the issue of LGBT rights, he’s more likely to just not talk about them. But you can imagine something like, “I believe in same sex marriage, but I never said gay people should be able to teach our children!” So you aren’t in favor of LGBT equality? “Of course I am! But no one has a Constitutional right to a job!”
And on the issue of immigration, I think he will get on board with Marco Rubio’s brilliant political innovation. “I’ve only ever been in favor of naturalizing our illegal population after not one person is coming across the boarder illegally.” But isn’t that an absurd criterion that can never be met? “That’s why I’ve only ever been in favor of naturalizing our illegal population after not one person is coming across the boarder illegally.”
Although he’s never had far to travel, Rand Paul is well on his way to being the kind of LINO (Libertarian In Name Only) that Republicans can support. What’s funny about it is that I’m sure whoever runs for president on the Libertarian Party ticket will get far fewer votes in 2016 than they did in 2012. It’s amusing that Republicans fancy themselves libertarians but don’t really support libertarian policies. But it is a laugh riot that much of the official libertarian establishment is exactly the same. It shows just how ridiculous the entire conservative movement in this country has become.