Rand Paul is in the spotlight tonight. He’s enjoying Scott Brown-like status as the Most Powerful Republican In The World. And look: he says he represents the Tea Party movement. So that must be the end of it, right?…

The Tea Party finally has a real notch in its belt. Rand Paul called them to power tonight

Paul represents pure, unadulterated libertarian-conservative id. He’s not a candidate of sound bites or self-censorship. He seems authentic. Authenticity is a myth, because Paul is a product of so many different strands of American history and thought, but it endears a candidate to voters who think Washington is fake.

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The government’s main function these days is writing checks to old people. These checks allow people to retire and pursue avocations such as going to Tea Party rallies. This basic fact about the government is no great secret. In fact, it’s a huge cliché, robably available more than once in an average day’s newspaper. But the Tea Party Patriots feel free to ignore it and continue serving up rhetoric about “the audaciousness and arrogance of our government,” and calling for the elimination of the Federal Reserve Board or drastic restraints on the power of the Internal Revenue Service…

What is most irksome about the Tea Party Patriots is their expropriation of the word patriot, with the implication that if you disagree with them, you’re not a patriot, or at least you’re less patriotic than they are. Without getting all ask-notty about it, I think a movement labeling itself patriotic should have some obligation to demonstrate patriotism in a way other than demanding a tax cut. In their rhetoric, the Tea Party Patriots do not sound as if they love their country very much: they have nothing but gripes. Yes, of course, these are gripes against the government, not against the country itself. But that distinction becomes hard to maintain when you have nothing good to say about the government and nothing but whines to offer the country.

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Rand Paul’s victory in the Kentucky Republican primary is obviously a depressing event for those who support strong national defense and rational conservative politics…

How is it that the GOP has lost its antibodies against a candidate like Rand Paul? In the past few months, we have seen GOP conservatives rally against Utah Sen. Bob Bennett. There has been no similar rallying against Rand Paul: no ads by well-funded out-of-state groups. Some senior Republicans, like former VP Dick Cheney, indicated a preference for opponent Trey Grayson. But despite Paul’s self-presentation as “anti-establishment,” the D.C. conservative establishment by and large made its peace with him. It is this acquiescence – even more than Paul’s own nomination – that is the most ominous news from tonight’s vote.

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