A good example of why Rove’s criticism is so silly. Not only does Paul have a policy agenda, he’s not above using grand flourishes to advance it. Although this does have one thing in common with his dust-up with the Clintons: In both cases he’s raising his own political profile by picking a fight with a bigger-name Democrat. The context couldn’t be more different, but for an aspiring presidential candidate, it’s a smart way to operate.

Whether a Fourth Amendment suit will prevail depends on which judge they draw. Remember, within 12 days of each other in December, a federal district court judge appointed by Bush found the NSA’s data-mining program unconstitutional while another judge appointed by Clinton upheld it. Assuming both rulings are affirmed on appeal, it’s a cinch that this will end up in the Supreme Court. Paul’s shrewdly getting on board now, before it takes off, so that he’s in the middle of things as it moves up the legal food chain. He’s got a new website for the occasion too — DefendTheFourth.com, where you can enter your name and e-mail address to join his class-action suit. I wonder what other uses a presidential contender could find for a mailing list like that.

Good politics either way, though. It’ll further alienate hawks, but Paul doesn’t care about that. That bridge was burned long ago. Tea partiers, who disapprove of the NSA program to the tune of 68 percent, will love it. It’ll also earn him some respect among independents and Democrats; per the last link, there are now more people in both groups who oppose the program than who approve of it. The only way it blows up on him is if the program is dismantled and then something literally blows up, and even then, it’s SCOTUS who’ll take the blame, not Paul. I’m surprised he doesn’t have more GOP wannabes joining him on it, frankly.