Quotes of the day

Rand Paul came to Chicago yesterday and did something a Republican thinking about running for president typically wouldn’t do: subject himself to a nearly hour-long grilling by the one-time chief political strategist for President Barack Obama.

“You are an intriguing person,” David Axelrod, the former White House senior adviser, now leading the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, said at the start of his on-stage conversation with the U.S. senator from Kentucky.

Paul, a favorite of the limited-government Tea Party movement who is considering a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, used stops in Chicago — Obama’s hometown — as the latest venues in offering himself as a different kind of Republican pushing his party to grow beyond its base.


Sen. Rand Paul is taking full advantage of Congress’s recess with a tour of speaking engagements in Real America. But more importantly, he used the time away from Washington to cultivate a decidedly different image: not the libertarian spark plug most people think of when they think of Rand Paul, but an old-fashioned, issues-oriented compassionate conservative.

Speaking at Josephinum Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school in Chicago, Paul talked to parents and students about public-school alternatives and supported the right for religious schools like Josephinum to receive federal money. School vouchers and charter schools have long been conservatives’ workaround to push against the public education system without seeming like they were pricing out low-income students…

Since starting his first term in the Senate, Paul has made a point to travel around the country speaking to urban communities struggling with poverty—not exactly a friendly setting for Republican politicians.

Some have said that promoting school choice and urban revitalization is part of Paul’s grand plan to welcome minority voters into the GOP’s fold.


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) shot back at Bob Dole on Tuesday by arguing that a lack of political experience can be seen as positive.

Speaking to reporters in Chicago, Paul said that he was first a physician and then became a senator, despite people advising him to work his way up through the public service ladder as mayor and state legislator.

“I absolutely disagree with that because I think in some ways, when you have people who are career politicians, they’ve been beaten down by the system and are so part of the system that they can’t see all the problems of the system,” Paul said, according to The Chicago Sun-Times.


Despite the factual and political accuracy of Paul’s lamentations about Reagan-era fiscal policy, will conservatives reflexively outrage about this? Will it become fodder for the likes of Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum to pledge their undying love for Reagan’s ghost, in contrast to that turncoat Rand?

If any of the above does happen, it will be more of the same from conservatives. Overlooking the party’s 1980s failings is a key component of Reagan idolatry, and, sadly, it would prove they still have no interest in thinking about economics in a truly principled manner…

Yes, Reagan had to contend with a Democratic Congress, but many of the above policies were directly supported and/or proposed by the president. There’s simply no way around it; and Republicans would be better off listening to Rand Paul’s tough words rather than dismiss them as blasphemy.


In case you missed it, a minor controversy has erupted over Rand Paul’s recent comments about abortion…

From a pragmatic standpoint, however, Paul seems to be saying two things: 1). That he believes in the Thatcher maxim that first you win the argument, then you win the vote, and 2). That the pro-life cause is best served when it stresses areas where their is consensus (banning late-term abortion, for example) and doesn’t get too far over its skis (talking about rape, or stressing “personhood,” transvaginal ultrasounds, etc.)

The real problem for Paul, in my opinion, is that he’s having an honest discussion about a very sensitive topic. There’s no place for that in politics!

This is what happens when politicians think out loud and actually verbalize the things they are thinking. We often complain about scripted politicians who stick to talking points and sound bites, but there’s a good reason why the most boring, disciplined politicians seem to succeed. Would Paul have been better off by simply parrying the question? Probably.


Many other Republicans are nervous about Paul’s rising stock, much more than they were about the presidential bids of his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)…

In a general election Paul would have to defend his proposals to raise the Social Security eligibility age and eliminate capital gains taxes. He would also have to fend off questions about his 2010 statement that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was wrong to prohibit businesses from discriminating against customers and his 1990s description of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.”

“He’s never had to defend these views. At some point in a debate with the Democrats, he’ll have to defend these views,” said a senior House Republican aide…

“If there’s a nut movement in the country that he hasn’t found, please call me. He’s now getting involved in the sagebrush matter with Mr. Bundy,” said the GOP staffer. “I worry about a lot of things, but my biggest concern isn’t that Barack Obama is going to take me out at Starbucks with a drone.”


Kentucky voters are apparently split on whether home-state Sen. Rand Paul should run for president in 2016.

About one-third of Bluegrass State voters, or 31%, say the freshman senator should make a White House bid, while 34% say the Republican shouldn’t seek the presidency, according to a New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday.

Another 32% say they don’t know enough about Paul to say what he should do in 2016.


Let’s say the Kentucky legislator makes a strong run — winning some states and coming close in others — but doesn’t win the nomination, a scenario that seems more likely than not. He has something going for him in the veepstakes that other Republican also-rans would not: a constituency that might well defect in large numbers from the party in November.

Assuming Paul loses, the Libertarian Party will have an easier task than usual: It will be able to concentrate its organizing among the people who voted for Paul in the primaries. That could easily amount to enough voters to deny Republicans a victory in the general election. (In other words, the libertarian candidate in this situation would be Ralph Nader in reverse.)…

Because Paul has a distinctive constituency … he still has a pretty good shot of being on the ticket — even if he doesn’t make it to the top spot.


What the GOP needs is an honest, stringent account of how it has ended up where it is – a party that has piled on more debt than was once thought imaginable and until recently, has done nothing much to curtail federal spending. Reagan was a great president in many ways, as Paul says explicitly in these clips.

But Reagan introduced something truly poisonous into American conservatism.
It was the notion that you can eat your cake and have it too, that tax cuts pay for themselves and that deficits don’t matter. This isn’t and wasn’t conservatism; it was a loopy utopian denial of math. And the damage it has done to this country’s fiscal standing has been deep and permanent. It is one of modern conservatism’s cardinal sins. And Paul is addressing it forthrightly – just as he is addressing the terrible, devastating consequences of neo-conservatism for America and the world in the 21st Century.

What we desperately need from the right is this kind of accounting. It’s what reformers on the left did in the 1990s – confronting the failures of their past in charting a new future. Taking on Reagan on fiscal matters may be short-term political death, as Corn suspects and maybe hopes, but it is vital if the GOP is to regain some long-term credibility on the core question of government solvency. Compared with the ideological bromides and slogans of so many others, Rand Paul is a tonic. And a courageous one at that.