He said this during a segment on Fox News in which he also insisted that Chris Christie’s presidential hopes are still very much alive. Because of course he did.
I did not realize that a few jabs at the Clenis aimed at parrying the left’s endless “war on women” attacks 32 months out from the next election might matter in deciding the presidency. Now I know better. Way to go, Rand.
Karl Rove took a shot at Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday for attacking Bill Clinton over his “predatory” behavior toward Monica Lewinsky, saying that it’s not good strategy for running for president.
“Frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country,” Rove said on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom.”
Right, it doesn’t. So what? Why would a week-long skirmish between Paul and the Clintons set any sort of agenda for anything? Christie attacking libertarians last year for challenging the NSA isn’t such a hot agenda either right now given the state of the polls, and unlike the Paul/Clinton fracas, that’ll factor heavily into the next campaign. Interesting that Rove seems less exercised by that than he does by this.
There’s lots of reasons for Rand to pick this fight. By punching up against a far more widely known Democratic pair, he raises his own name recognition. He also shows conservatives that he’s not afraid to get rough if that’s how Democrats want to play. Accuse Republicans of waging a war on women and he’ll remind the media that Hillary’s co-president wasn’t above exploiting his power to bother the interns. At the very least, it might make Democrats think twice about their own demagoguery; if it goes on long enough, it might make them reconsider using Bill Clinton as a campaign weapon this fall. But it probably won’t go on much longer. Judging by his brawl with Christie, Paul likes to attack in a flurry over a few days or weeks and then back away, probably for the same reason that Rove mentions. If you go too negative too often, you become known for it and it overshadows your agenda. If, like me, you think Paul’s a true believer in his libertarian-lite philosophy and its ability to win the election for him (of course he is, he’s a Paul!), that’s the last thing he wants. He’ll drop this once it’s served its purpose.
And that’s the irony of Rove’s criticism. There’s no candidate in the 2016 field on either side who’ll be challenged, by his own party and by the opposition, as much on policy as Paul will. And he knows it, which is why he’s spent the last three years trying to find a way between libertarianism and conservatism. Mainstream righties will scrutinize him to see if he’s too much like dad on foreign policy; libertarians will scrutinize him to see if he’s enough like dad, and whether he’s showing signs of backing off on domestic surveillance or drug war reforms to try to get elected; and Democrats will scrutinize him because they’ll soon be convinced by their party’s leadership that he wants to repeal the Thirteenth Amendment or something. He can call Bill Clinton a predator all he wants but the fate of Paul’s campaign inevitably will turn on whether he can somehow forge a majority coalition in favor of policies that have been marginalized in the past. That being so, why is Rove grumbling about this, unless it’s just his way of suggesting that Paul’s too tin-eared politically to take a chance on in the primaries?
Here’s Scarborough grumbling this morning about the same thing, in case you think the “centrist scold” POV isn’t sufficiently represented by Rove.