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Rand Paul finds his punching bag, but only for the short term


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Paul Mirengoff



What are Rand Paul’s biggest assets as he attempts to convert the GOP into an isolationist party? He has several, and one of them is John McCain.


McCain surely is among the names Paul “didn’t need to mention” when he declared before CPAC that “the GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered.” Paul also didn’t perceive a need to name the GOP policies he believes are stale. Instead, he followed that shot by talking about the importance of getting government “off our backs” — a worthy goal, but one that Republicans long have stood for.


Better for Paul to remain vague about his policy differences with the “old GOP,” ride his current wave of popularity, and allow Republicans to give him the benefit of the doubt as they fill in the blanks. Better for Paul to present himself as the antithesis of McCain — who advocates a strong defense and U.S. engagement overseas but is unpopular with Republicans for very different reasons — than openly to advocate sharp reductions in defense spending and U.S. disengagement from the world.




Even here, Paul was being a bit coy. His isolationism almost surely exceeds what Joe Biden has in mind. Even Biden’s boss does not entirely eschew the possibility of serious U.S. engagement in the Middle East, albeit not with boots on the ground. And one can imagine circumstances under which Biden might favor “leaving home” to fight terrorism or to oppose out-and-out aggression.


I have never heard Paul say anything that provides even a modest level of comfort on these scores. From all that appears, Paul understands “coming home” not as a description of our policy towards Afghanistan, but as a broad prescription for American defense and foreign policy in general. In other words, he means it in the McGovernite sense at best, and more likely in the Ron Paul sense.



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'The GOP of Old'




"The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered,” Kentucky senator Rand Paul said Thursday to the Conservative Political Action Conference. “I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?” he added coyly.




What does Dr. Paul prescribe? In an interview last week, Paul appealed to the wisdom of Vice President Joe Biden. In the 2012 vice presidential debate, Paul said, Biden had a good response to Paul Ryan on Afghanistan: “We’re coming home.” And, Paul continued, “I think that’s what people want. I think that’s what people are ready for, that we’re coming home.” And why does Paul think the American people are now ready for this McGovernite message? “War weariness.”


Are the American people war weary? Yes, to some degree. Could there be a worse prescription for American foreign policy than giving in to popular war weariness? * No.





* Not just no but Hell No!

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