Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Many continue to ask how the GOP can remain a party that can win elections and govern nationally. They already have an answer.
Sen. Rand Paul has the benefit of being one of the most conservative Republicans in the traditional, limited-government sense, while holding unique ideological positions that make it possible for him to build new coalitions other Republicans cannot.
Beltway critics insist that Sen. Paul’s libertarianism limits him. Some say that the senator’s positions on foreign policy, civil liberties and drug law reform make him unacceptable. They are wrong. Paul’s libertarianism broadens the Republican Party’s appeal. In fact, if the GOP is going to have a fighting chance, it will need to become a more libertarian party.
The heart of American conservatism has always been the simple notion that government is the problem — that government must be limited in scope, checked in its power and restrained by the Constitution. This was Goldwater’s creed and Reagan’s promise. It is what the Tea Party represents today. It is what most conservatives will continue to espouse tomorrow and for the foreseeable future.
This view of the state is also essentially libertarian, something completely missing from the Republican Party the last time it held power, when debt and government doubled. Today, fiscal hawks, values voters, national security conservatives — virtually every part of the Republican coalition — see massive spending as the primary threat to our health and survival. Sen. Paul represents this overarching concern and this coalition, perhaps better than any other national GOP leader.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The Republican Party has admitted it has a problem. Something has to change to restore the party to a place where it might be able to get one of its own elected president.
Senator Rand Paul, R-KY., has made clear that he agrees. Paul is focusing on the “things we need to do to be competitive on the West Coast, to be competitive in New England and Illinois.”
But Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., apparently thinks the way to get the GOP back into power is to move it backward—back to the Republican Party of Dick Cheney and John Yoo. Yesterday, Rubio traveled to Paul’s home state to suggest that Paul is an “isolationist,” and that:
We can’t solve every humanitarian crisis on the planet, we can’t be involved in every dispute, every civil war and every conflict. But we also cannot retreat from the world. It’s not that America will continue to function as the world’s police officer. The problem is that like anything in the world: If you pull back from it, a vacuum will be created… The alternative to U.S. [engagement] on the global stage is chaos.
Mouthing another neoconservative slogan, Rubio pronounced—ahistorically—that “Every single time that nations have retreated from the world, every single time this nation has retreated from the world, we have paid for it in the long run. We have paid for it dearly.”
As Daniel Larison points out, it isn’t clear which “retreats” Rubio was thinking of, but a few that call into question his argument would be Vietnam, Iraq, and hopefully someday Afghanistan. Whatever “dear” costs Rubio thinks we incurred by extricating ourselves from those wars, they pale in comparison to the American corpses and squandered trillions of getting into them.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul stole the show from under Sen. Marco Rubio’s nose at the opening session of the Conservative Political Action Conference, criticizing a “stale and moss-covered” GOP and calling for a new focus on liberty.
The back-to-back pairing of Rubio and Rand was seen as the most significant matchup of the annual conference, pitting two likely 2016 Republican contenders before the party’s conservative base. The result pointed to the growing schism in the Republican Party between resurgent libertarians and more traditional Republicans.
The two men -Paul age 50, Rubio just 41- laid out divergent visions of an inclusive Republican Party. Rubio called for a focus on economic opportunity and a muscular role overseas. Paul called for a reduction in the size of the U.S. government at home and abroad.
Speaking first, Rubio railed against China in a case for continued American leadership in the world, warning of anti-democratic and anti-dissident actions, including cutting off access to the Internet and forced sterilizations.
“This is what they do to their own people,” Rubio said. “We want that to be the leading country in the world? …That’s what’s at stake in America’s greatness.”
Minutes later, and with hundreds standing attentively listening to his every word, Paul echoed his warnings about drone strikes that earned him national fame last week for his 13-hour filibuster.
A press office staffer for Vice President Joe Biden forced a credentialed reporter from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism to delete photos taken Tuesday at an event in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Rockville, Md.
Vice President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Kendra Barkoff, has since apologized for the thuggery.
The reporter, Jeremy Barr, showed up to cover an event related to domestic violence. Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin were on hand.
The trouble began when he unintentionally took a seat in an area that wasn’t specifically designated for members of the press.
“I didn’t see any demarcation that would have designated a press entrance versus a general entrance,” Barr told Capital News Service.
Once the event started, Barr said, he snapped a few photos of each speaker.
“People a few rows in front of me were also taking photos,” he added.
When the event ended, Biden press staffer Dana Rosenzweig questioned Barr about his photos, according to the New York Daily News.
Friday, March 8, 2013
While many Senate Democrats said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) raised legitimate concerns about the Obama administration’s drone program during his epic filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director, most of them were unable to explain why they didn’t join him on the Senate floor.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was the only Democrat to join Paul and 14 other Republicans in a 13-hour filibuster Wednesday. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also took to the floor twice, but mostly to defend the U.S. government’s authority to target American citizens in “extraordinary circumstances.”
“I don’t know, there’s a lot of debates I don’t join that I agree — I’ve got stuff to do and was doing a lot of other things,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told HuffPost when asked about his whereabouts the day before. “I think the question should be answered. I think [Sen.] Paul was generally right on it.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who in 2010 launched the most recent old-fashioned “talking” filibuster before Paul’s against the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, said flatly that he never considered joining Paul’s effort — but added that the absence of most Democrats was a “good question.”
“I’m working right now on many, many, other issues,” Sanders said.
“Presumably you go down on the floor because you believe in something,” he added, though he argued that the method Paul used to raise his questions and his timing weren’t “particularly constructive.”