How Donald Trump redeemed Rand Paul

But Trump has done something else to Paul. Trump has called him “lowly” and “truly weird.” Trump began a debate asking why the hell Paul was allowed on the stage. But probably more grave to the Paul campaign, he took Paul’s issues. Paul was going to be the most dovish voice on the stage, the one critical of useless wars in the Middle East. Trump became that voice instead, leaving Rand Paul to talk about debt as a national security issue. Eventually Paul was pushed off stage altogether.

This series of humiliations seems to have transformed Paul…

Unfortunately, Paul’s political style sometimes comes across as slightly entitled. He understands himself as a conviction-politician, and can sometimes be baffled when activists and voters fail to understand or share his strategy. He seems to lecture Republicans in a way that can come across as condescending, as if to emphasize that if they really believed in small government, then of course they owed him, and his policy views their support. No one likes to be told what they ought to believe and do in this way. Sometimes, in his effort to reach out to audiences beyond the usual Republican tent party, he seemed to want credit for just showing up, as when he went to Howard University and explained what students there already knew — that their grandparents and great grandparents were more likely to be Republicans.

Last week’s Paul was more relaxed, maybe even slightly resigned. Instead of telling the audience or the other aspirants what they ought to believe, he shared his own convictions as his own.