Sunday, June 30, 2013
South Carolina stands with Rand:
Standing in front of more than 100 South Carolina GOP activists in West Columbia Friday night, the Kentucky senator largely steered clear of the week's two dominant, divisive issues that are tying his party in knots: Gay rights and immigration reform.
Instead, he diverted from his early presidential-primary-state speech script and went for the jugular on a topic that, while not necessarily timely, would surely please a military-friendly crowd: A full-throated defense of profiling.
“After 9-11 we had a special program for student visas . . . Why?" Paul asked. "Because 16 of the 19 hijackers were overstaying their students visas. Was it targeting? Was it profiling? Yes. Because only certain people are attacking us. Why don’t we use some brain sense to go after the people who are attacking us?"
The guests ate it up, rewarding Paul with sustained thunderclaps. It was one of his biggest applause lines of the night. But it was also a curious statement from a likely 2016 White House contender who built his brand on a libertarian approach to government. This, from the same guy who stood on the Senate floor for 14 hours to protest the potential use of drones to target Americans?
Yeah well, who needs 'em? If he can get the social conservatives and the rabid hawks and gull a few silly Tea Partiers with some pablum about bail-outs, he's in like Flynn. Of course, he's just be a standard issue right winger at that point, but I'm going to guess that's not much of a stretch.
So gone were Paul’s barbs about the IRS, his musings about diversifying the party and his lengthy critique of the immigration bill that’s dominated Congress for the first half of the year. Even his standard line of attack against Hillary Clinton was subdued. Instead, in addition to endorsing targeted screening at airports, he earned audible accolades for his call to sever foreign aid to hostile countries and a forceful defense of Israel’s right to exist.
The address was almost exclusively devoted to foreign affairs and tactics employed in the country’s struggle against terrorism -- a marked change from his previous early state primary speeches and a subtle acknowledgment that he must prove he’s no softy when it comes to national security.
Hogan Gidley, a former state party official who advised Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential bid, said it was evident Rand’s mission was to wipe away any perception that he was weak on defense.
“His father, rightly or wrongly, was saddled with being anti-military. I think he wanted to say, ‘I’m a little tougher’ from the foreign policy standpoint. South Carolinians love that stance. He wanted to get out front of being outflanked on the right on military issues,” Gidley said.
Rep. Joe Wilson, one of two members of the congressional delegation who attended the event, said the speech allayed fears he had about Paul’s posture on the military.
“He really did address the concern I had, which was his position relative to national defense. I had a misperception that he did not recognize national defense as a paramount function of government. But he really made it clear tonight he does,” Wilson said in an interview. “He reiterated something very important to me and to the people of South Carolina,, that he is a stalwart of a strong national defense. I was very pleased by his positive comments.”
There are striking parallels between Paul’s effort to win over more hawkish members of the party in South Carolina and his play last month in Iowa to assure social conservatives he shares their values if not all of their exact issue positions.
It’s a thin line to walk for a candidate-in-the-making whose libertarian streak helped define his identity, but could ultimately limit his ambitions. He is astute enough to address his vulnerabilities with large sections of the party. But with every speech or position that’s calibrated to win converts and broaden his appeal, there’s the risk that he could end up losing part of the fervent base built for him by his father.
This story about one of Rand's close advisers, shows how he could cultivate that extra bit of revolutionary zeal to seal the deal:
The theocratic intentions of Christian Right leaders sometimes surface in unexpected ways. Most recently David Lane, a top Christian Right political operative and longtime behind-the-scenes "power broker" called for violent dominionist revolution in an essay published (and then taken down) by World Net Daily.
The tie between the Pauls and Christian Reconstructionism is well documented and very creepy. It fits quite well with their mutual States' Rights philosophy:
Lane has, among other things, been the national finance director for The Response, the 2011 prayer rally that served as the de facto launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry's ill-fated run for president, as well as the organizer of the Texas Restoration Project, which had boosted Perry's political career. He has worked with and for such GOP pols as Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann, and most recently, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Lane currently leads the American Renewal Project of Don Wildmon's American Family Association which is targeting twelve states for political development towards the 2014 elections.
Such nuts and bolts electoral work not withstanding, Lane called in his essay for Christians to "Wage war to restore a Christian America."
Lane expresses frustration with what he regards as the superficial politics of press releases of "inside the Beltway" Christian Rightists. He calls for "champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage, homosexual scouts, 60 million babies done to death by abortion and red ink as far as the eye can see." The champions for Christ of his vision will "wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture."
"America's survival is at stake," he declares, "and this is not tall talk or exaggeration."
"If the American experiment with freedom is to end after 237 years," he suggests, "let each of us commit to brawl all the way to the end because," he explains, quoting a famous radio address by Winston Churchill during the darkest days of the war with Nazi Germany: "Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization."
"You ask," Lane continued, "What is our goal?" To wage war to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage with all of our might and strength that God will give us. You ask, "What is our aim?" One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror."
It might seem that Paul’s libertarianism is the very opposite of theocracy, but that’s true only if you want to impose theocracy at the federal level. In general, Christian Reconstructionists favor a radically decentralized society, with communities ruled by male religious patriarchs. Freed from the power of the Supreme Court and the federal government, they believe that local governments could adopt official religions and enforce biblical law.
With forays to Iowa and South Carolina, you can begin to see how Rand Paul might be clearing his path to to the White House:
“One of the things we forget is that when the Constitution was passed, even though the Bill of Rights said there was going to be no federal religions, every state in the union had basically a state religion and the Constitution was not designed to overturn that,” says Nolder. Among Reconstructionists, he says, “there’s a desire for a theocracy, but it has to be one from the bottom up, not from the top down.”
Reconstructionists take biblical morality far beyond traditional social issues. They believe that the Bible contains specific instructions on every aspect of life, including monetary policy, something they place great emphasis on. Many argue that there’s a biblical mandate for a gold standard. “The constant concern of The Old Testament law with the honesty of weights and measures was equally applicable to honest money,” writes North in his book An Introduction to Christian Economics. He claims that “legal tender laws are immoral; currency debasement is immoral; printed unbacked paper money is immoral.”
If Reconstructionism remains marginal, Deace believes that the broader movement of covenant theology is growing. “The younger generation of American Christians, a lot of them are turning away from premillennial dispensationalism” he says. “The emerging generation does not trust the traditional religious right. They think we’ve largely sold out and have compromised our faith. They’re attracted to the fact that Paul hates all the people they don’t trust and don’t like.”
[Ron]Paul has been able to create one of the strangest coalitions in American political history, bringing together libertarian hipsters with those who want to subject the sexually impure to Taliban-style public stonings. (Stoning is Reconstructionists’ preferred method of execution because it is both biblical and fiscally responsible, rocks being, in North’s words, “cheap, plentiful, and convenient.”) “I described it recently as people who are mixing the philosophies espoused in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion,” says Deace. We’re about to learn whether that can be a recipe for victory.
It's a tall order, but if he can make that coalition work, there's no reason he couldn't add in some good old fashioned South Carolina militarism and turn it into a Big Tent full of weirdos.
digby 6/30/2013 05:00:00 PM