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Hullabaloo


Monday, September 29, 2014

 
Rand Paul, moderate centrist

by digby

Ryan Lizza has published a fascinating profile of Senator Paul that includes quite a bit of interesting info. I thought I'd just start with what the political media thinks is most important about it, using Chris Cilizza's rundown of the five most important quotes in the article.  I'll just pick two.

Here's a note on Rand's position within the party these days, starting with this quote:
"I’ve seen him grow and I’ve seen him mature and I’ve seen him become more centrist. I know that if he were President or a nominee I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn’t be a problem.” -- Arizona Sen. John McCain
Chris Cilizza says:
Rand Paul has spent much of his first four years in the Senate -- and especially the last two as it became clearer and clearer he was running for president -- trying to reduce some of the heat directed toward him (and his father) by the Republican establishment. He knows people like McCain are ever going to endorse him for president. (My guess on a McCain endorsement? Rubio.) But, Rand also believes that having people like McCain -- and McConnell -- actively working either behind the scenes or in front of them against you is a recipe to lose. (Ted Cruz, on the other hand, views this antagonistic relationship as a key to victory for him.) This McCain quote suggests that Paul's effort have paid off; he's never going to be McCain's guy but neither will the Arizona Republican go out of his way to say or do things to try and keep the nomination from Paul if it seems obvious the race is headed that way.
Well that's a relief. Cilizza is also convinced that Paul is not a libertarian ideologue and is more of a pragmatic conservative --- or at least is smart enough to hide his "true beliefs" in order to win. (At which point I guess his followers are supposed to believe he'll take off the mask and become the one true libertarian they voted for. Sure he will.)
“Ron was always content to tell the truth as best he understood it, and he saw that as the point of his politics. Rand is the guy who is committed to winning.” -- Paul family strategist Jesse Benton
Cilizza says:
This gets to the core of the difference between Rand and Ron Paul. It's not -- as Lizza correctly notes in his piece -- fundamentally about their policy views on which there is considerable overlap. "They don’t really have differences," Carol Paul, wife of Ron and mother of Rand, told Ryan. "They might have fractional differences about how to do things, but the press always want to make it into some kind of story that isn’t there.” The real difference between the two men is stylistic and focus-oriented. Many Republican strategists admit that if Ron Paul had simply refused to go down the rabbit hole of his foreign policy views (over and over again) during nationally televised debates, he might well have won a primary or caucus in 2012. Rand Paul, by contrast, understands the need to pivot off of topics where his views are not entirely aligned with the people he is trying to woo.
And apparently he also understands the total lack of professionalism on the part of the political press which will allow him to hide from his own record, a tactic Cilizza interestingly sees as a matter of style and focus rather than character. (Whether other Republicans will allow it is another question.)

I happen to think there's very little difference between Paul and the average Tea Party Republican which means that he will slash domestic government programs to the bone if he can, he will end as many regulations as he can, he will end as much taxation for the "job creators" as he can --- all good libertarian/conservative economic ideals. He will speak of religious "freedom" as it's now defined, which means that he will support the notions that the government has no ability to create or enforce laws that offend someone's religion while religion, on the other hand, has the "freedom" to insist that others abide by their beliefs. (Because otherwise they aren't free to practice their religion which requires them to compel others to follow their beliefs --- duh.) And he will also do whatever the national security state deems necessary because all presidents do that, regardless of party. There will not be any substantial advantage to voting for President Paul over President Cruz. (Well, maybe he would be less terrible on marijuana prosecutions.)

But from the looks of things, he's being positioned as the pragmatic centrist of the GOP presidential club. Which would be hilarious if it weren't so scary. It appears that in today's Village, any Republican who doesn't advocate capital punishment for pot smoking is now a moderate. Those goal posts just keep a-moving.


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