Rand Paul’s challenge: What if foreign policy becomes the dominant issue?

To be sure, Paul’s post-invasion statement would hardly be called aggressive or hostile toward Russia. It’s not an “Evil Empire” moment. And I’m not suggesting his “before” and “after” statements contradict one another — they don’t. But he does seem to shift from chastising some Americans for being anti-Russian — to mildly chastising Putin for violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Now, to some degree, this makes some sense. It stands to reason that one’s tone should change based on a changing situation on the ground. You might expect Paul to take a tougher stance toward Russia after an invasion. But the fact that I must make this point seems to illustrate his challenge.

It feels flippant to assign political winners and losers to something militaristic like this, but if such a thing exists, one would assume it would be Sen. Marco Rubio (who excels at foreign policy and rhetoric stressing moral clarity) and Sen. Ted Cruz (whom, I argue, is in the same “division” as Paul) who would benefit from foreign policy being put back on the front burner.