Skip to comments.The Man Who Wouldn’t Be King: Rand Paul becomes an object of liberal curiosity
Posted on 08/08/2014 12:15:12 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Robert Drapers New York Times magazine piece, Has the Libertarian Moment Finally Arrived? dutifully if rotely runs through the greatest hits: Kennedy was on MTV, Nick Gillespie wears black and quotes Jack Kerouac, people bring guns to PorcFest, David Koch exists, libertarians disagree about abortion, and Rand Paul is not the ideologue his father is.
There are some notable false notes, too: Draper describes Glenn Beck as a partisan gunslinger when he is if anything the opposite, a man who believes that the Republicans have betrayed their own values and who pronounces himself done with them.
Glenn Beck no longer looms so large in the liberal mind as he did when he was on Fox News. But Rand Paul does. Senator Paul gets the full Jane-Goodall-among-the-chimpanzees treatment, with Mr. Draper puzzled by his beliefs and affect both: Last month, he writes, I dropped by the Russell Senate Office Building to talk to Paul about his libertarian-Republican tightrope walk. Paul, 51 and a native Texan, possesses a supple mind and is a preternaturally confident speaker for someone who has held office for only four years. At the same time, Paul is not particularly enthusiastic about the glad-handing niceties that come with the job. Good to see you, he mumbled, then flopped down into a chair in his offices conference room and fixed me with an impatient stare. Perhaps Senator Paul was pondering a question that often has puzzled me: What possible good can come from a Republican sitting down with the New York Times?
The emergence of Rand Paul as one of the most popular, if not the most popular, figures in the Republican party, the current disaffection of Millennials who have been well and truly hosed by the Obama economy, abrupt shifts in public opinion on things like gay rights and marijuana legalization, the restiveness of the tea-party tendency all of this has Mr. Draper of the Times wondering, and not without some apparent anxiety: Would libertarians be willing to meet the GOP somewhere in the middle?
The middle of what? The middle of a room packed with dopey old men nattering about legitimate rape and the lavender menace, or the middle of a party committed to sober and careful reform, with a platform organized around the rule of law, stability, and yes liberty? The party of Reagan and Goldwater, true, but also the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Taft. Senator Pauls popularity suggests that where they might in fact meet is in the middle of a political movement that is, unlike the sentimental tendency that brought us Barack Obama and threatens us with Hillary Clinton, intellectually alive. Senators Paul and Cruz, and House insurgents such as Justin Amash, are compelling figures to many not so much because of the content of their ideas but simply because they have ideas and seem to be guided by them. After enduring these long years of sterile empathy rhetoric, perhaps we are, at long last, ready to think rather than to merely experience sensation.
What that means politically is unknowable. We could save ourselves some time and argument by noting that the American electorate gives relatively little indication that it is on the verge of a libertarian moment, or any other sort of philosophical moment. Psephological experience and current polling data both very strongly reiterate what any sentient person knows: The American people are incoherent and inconsistent when it comes to public policy, and they seem to have long been driven, in the main, by wishful thinking.
You do not have to be a genius to figure out how to get in front of that parade, which was a lucky thing for Barack Obama and his modest gifts. As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama twice ran on a platform that combined the worst leftovers of discredited mid-century progressivism with an economic theory that is absurd on its face. None of that mattered: His messianic pretentions soared, celebrities literally sang hymns to him, columnists wondered aloud whether he was a divine messenger and bought deeply into all that hope-and-changiness: Many spiritually advanced people I know . . . identify Obama as a Lightworker, wrote Mark Moford of the San Francisco Chronicle, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health-care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment.
All of which looks silly in retrospect. But the power of celebrity is not to be underestimated: Though both would be horrified by the comparison, the political figure whom Barack Obama most closely resembles is Sarah Palin, albeit one who began his presidency with considerably less administrative experience.
Senator Paul has in common with Barack Obama that his presidential ambitions began to stir quite early in his Senate career. But the two have very little else in common. Senator Pauls rhetoric is not soaring, but cautious. Cautious about military adventuring, cautious about the role of narrow financial interests in driving Washingtons agenda, cautious about the power of the state, even cautious about his own ideological orientation: not libertarian, but libertarian-ish. He is notably cautious about what he thinks he can manage through legislation and, implicitly, as president. It is impossible to imagine him telling his supporters: We are the ones weve been waiting for. Likewise, it is difficult to imagine him unilaterally arrogating power to the Oval Office simply because Congress is not behaving to his liking or the Supreme Court is standing in his way.
Mr. Drapers questions about libertarianism are directed toward the question of consistency: Ayn Rand believed that a fetus had no moral stature, but Ron Paul is deeply pro-life, as is his son. Mollie Hemingway has different views on marriage than does Cathy Reisenwitz. Never mind that Barack Obama cannot even manage to agree with Barack Obama on gay marriage, say, or the Export-Import Bank, or foreign policy, or domestic surveillance. Barack Obama was never about ideas, and Rand Paul libertarian-ish-ism is.
But what is truly radical about Senator Paul is not his philosophy per se but his relatively modest conception of what government can and should be. Barack Obamas very large conception of the presidency seems to be tied up in his very large conception of himself. That should be off-putting, but it isnt: We are drawn to largeness and to drama. The heart loves a hero.
Lets hope the brain is in charge next time around.
Same ones that love Chrispy Creme, Jeb, and Romney.
[ There are Freepers who think Paul is swell. I don’t trust him. ]
I was hoping that Cruz, Paul and Lee would become the Tea party Trio in the Senate...
Sadly, Rand is bith wishy washy on things and Lee is too camera shy for his own good....
Ted Stands alone... for now.... He could sure use some help in the senate...
Cruz is a deep, committed conservative and Paul is a shallow gadfly of a libertarian/rino, they are largely on two different sides.
Too modest - he doesn't seem to think government can or should defend our borders.
I was thinking today about true leadership qualities and who would fit that bill as President. A quick sweep of Republicans had me fixing on Trey Gowdy. I know it is a long shot, but boy I would like someone with that aggressiveness, decisiveness, and determination in the White House. One thing for sure, if we are going get out of the dark hole we are in we will need someone like Gowdy, a guy who is confident, articulate, sharp as a tack, quick on his feet, and takes no prisoners.
We don’t elect congressmen or former congressmen, except for the weird four-way election of 1860.
I agree with iontheball, about Mssr. Gowdy.
Rand Paul had some ideas, but has since taken a different approach, and may do so again, after wetting his finger for the breeze.
We need a resolute, rule of law leader, not a queer.
Republicans that go around using words like ‘psephological’, when ‘studies of elections’ would do?