If Ron Paul weren’t Ron Paul, I’d assume this denunciation was just a stunt orchestrated by him and Rand to put some foreign-policy distance between them before the primaries. Are you a mainstream conservative worried that President Rand would be too much like Ron in office? Well, here you go. Let your conscience be eased. The nation’s most famous isolationist thinks his boy’s a bit of a warmonger.
But c’mon. With the possible exception of his vote for the Afghanistan AUMF in 2001, has Ron Paul ever endorsed a position that he didn’t sincerely hold? Of course he thinks the people who signed Tom Cotton’s letter are warmongers. He’s Ron Paul! Why would he hold his tongue for a reason as petty as his kid desperately needing Ron’s libertarian fans to turn out for him next February?
“I think the Congress has a point — whatever you agree to, we want to review it — but I strongly disagree with the motivation of that statement made by so many members of Congress, especially in the Senate,” Paul said during a speech at a Libertarian conference at the University of Texas at Austin.
“‘We have this constitutional responsibility to review this agreement,'” Paul added in a mocking tone. “What a joke that is. That’s not reasonable. They’re out to stop peace. They’re terrified that peace might break out.”…
Asked after the speech if his son was among the senators whose motives he was skeptical of, Ron Paul said he was not doing any interviews.
I can’t tell what he means there by “review.” Does he mean “review and ratify,” or is the great constitutionalist joining Barack Obama in undermining the Senate’s Article II power over treaties in the interest of brokering a bad but war-avoiding deal with Iran? Also, re-read the Cotton letter (which is just a few paragraphs long) and remind yourself what it said. It wasn’t a harangue threatening Iran with war; it was a matter-of-fact statement about the responsibility given to the Senate by the Constitution to approve treaties, reminding Iran that a deal with Obama doesn’t necessarily mean a binding deal with the U.S. government. If Obama was pushing for a more bellicose agreement with Iran and a bunch of anti-war senators had floated a statement like that, Paul would have embraced it as a proper assertion of checks and balances aimed at restraining an executive seeking unilateral power over foreign policy. Because it’s hawks who issued the statement, it’s a “joke.” Constitutional order’s a fine thing, I guess, so long as it’s advancing the right causes.
I don’t think Rand put Ron up to saying that, as I say. I wonder, though, if he’ll ask Ron to lay off the criticism. Maybe not. Righties assume that Ron will cause headaches for Rand sporadically throughout the campaign by defending the invasion of Crimea or accusing the feds of having known where Bin Laden was or whatever, but that could cut both ways. The noisier Ron is in knocking Rand for warmongering, the more comfortable some — not all, but some — otherwise wary conservatives might feel with Rand as commander-in-chief. On the other hand, Rand’s entire campaign strategy is premised on holding onto most of his dad’s supporters while bringing more traditional conservatives into the fold. The single worst thing that could happen to him among libertarians, I’d imagine, is for the leader of the rEVOLution to start hinting that Rand’s an unworthy heir, especially on foreign policy. I joke sometimes that it’s unclear whether Ron will end up endorsing Rand but it’s really only a half-joke.
Here’s Rand last week with Hugh Hewitt, trying to balance his two constituencies by saying he’s concerned about Iran’s trustworthiness — while insisting that he favors continuing the negotiations.