Man oh man. I used to think Paul had traded his endorsement of McConnell for Senate for McConnell’s promise that he’d endorse Paul for president. But after watching this very solid defense of a guy who’s very unpopular with Paul’s target audience, I’ve gotta believe that Mitch the Knife’s “Rand for president!” ad has already been recorded, cut, and is just waiting to be rolled out at the appropriate moment. He’s gone beyond the call of establishment-ingratiating duty on this one.

His point about McConnell not being Specter isn’t wrong, either.

“McConnell has offended conservatives by stabbing Ted Cruz in the back and cutting deals that ran contrary to every principle he says he stands for. The Conservative Establishment is backing unknown Matt Bevin. Bevin has no track record. McConnell has a Heritage Action rating of 80. When the average Republican score is 67 that is not something to ignore,” [Tea Party Nation founder Judson] Phillips said.

McConnell scored even better with the Club for Growth, nabbing an 87 percent rating on the free market group’s issues. This cycle, the club has endorsed Republicans who are challenging incumbents in Senate primaries, but Bevin is not among them. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a strong supporter of McConnell who has criticized Bevin, was at 96 percent on the Heritage Action for America scorecard. Bevin has never served in elected office…

The Senate Conservatives Fund, said a Republican operative backing McConnell, is making the same mistake with Bevin that the National Republican Senatorial Committee made in 2009 with Charlie Crist.

McConnell’s ACU rating, referenced by Paul in the clip, was 96, 85, and a perfect 100 from 2010-12, respectively. However you feel about Rand riding to his defense (at a moment, do note, when Ted Cruz is wading into other races to help tea partiers), explain to me how it came to be that defeating McConnell is a bigger cause among conservatives than defeating Lindsey Graham. Grahamnesty is perilously close to not only winning his primary in the redder-than-red state of South Carolina — Jim DeMint’s home state, I hasten to remind you — but he might do it with a clear majority, avoiding any chance of the sort of run-off upset that David Dewhurst suffered at the hands of Cruz. It’s as if John McCain was running for election in, say, Texas and righties simply couldn’t muster the interest to give him a competitive primary. It’s unthinkable — and yet, somehow, here we are. How did that happen?