The revenge of Rand Paul

John McCain, one of Paul’s longtime critics, told me in August, “I see him evolving with experience, with travel, with hearings on the Foreign Relations Committee. I see him having a better grasp of many of the challenges we face than when he first got here. That doesn’t mean he is now a John McCain, but it certainly does mean that he has a greater appreciation and has been articulating that.” He compared him with Ron Paul. “His father is a person who really believes that the United States should not be engaged in foreign events and foreign countries. I think that Rand Paul is seeing a very unsettled world, one in significant turmoil, and I see him understanding and articulating what in my view is a realistic view of the United States and the importance of its leadership and role in the world.”…

Jesse Benton told me that the foreign-policy differences between Rand and his father stem from Rand’s facing the realities of the world. “If Ron were President, he would have had to govern like Rand,” Benton said. “Ron is much more of a purist about non-intervention, and that’s fine, but in many ways Ron’s foreign policy can exist only in an academic sense. It’s just not possible for the United States to be non-interventionist. It’s not much of a difference on principle, but a much bigger difference in practice.”

McCain told me that, if Rand Paul is the Republican nominee for President in 2016, he will support him. “I’ve seen him grow and I’ve seen him mature and I’ve seen him become more centrist. I know that if he were President or a nominee I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn’t be a problem.”