Is Rand Paul Changing The Conversation?

 

Judging by the careful and qualified reactions of the left-friendly Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel, the answer might just be yes. It’s a truism nowadays that everything wrong with American culture is driving us deeper and deeper into narrow, self-selecting, self-congratulatory cubbyholes. There’s no doubt that the distinctions among our political alternatives are, like our tongues, getting sharper and sharper. But at the same time, the old battle lines are shifting as circumstances change and fertile new ideas spread and interact. Our national arguments are becoming less productive in some ways and more productive in others. And that’s not a wash; the phenomenon points toward some of the productive political ground of the next several years — if not beyond.

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor
    @PeterRobinson

    Either that or Rand Paul is making a downright fool of himself. I can understand discussing the hollowing-out of the Interstate Commerce Clause seven decades ago–in law school classrooms, on blogs like ours, or among tiny gatherings of highly intelligent and well-read libertarians. (In my experience, libertarians are always highly-intelligent and well-read. And, there being so very few of them, their gatherings are always tiny.) But while running a campaign for the United States Senate? In which the opposition will take anything at all that the candidate utters, remove it from its context, give it a twist or two, and then use it against him? What we have in Rand Paul, I’m afraid, is a candidate who has yet to learn how to distinguish his immediate political message, which he should never cease to insist upon, from all the other interesting thoughts rolling around in his head, which he should, until sometime after he takes the oath of office, keep to himself. Either Rand Paul turns out to be a quick learner or the press will use him to embarrass the GOP from now until November.

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  2. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos

    It’s true, Peter, that at least some Kentucky Republicans are already starting to worry along just these lines. After all, even Senate races are still defined by each state’s particular challenges and the policies that might best address them. Whether Rand Paul has a point about the Civil Rights Act isn’t central to the pressing practical questions facing Kentuckyans today. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. But it does mean that job number one for Rand Paul is to get elected to the office he’s been nominated to seek.

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  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Are these the same “Kentucky Republicans” that were hoping Trey Grayson would win the nomination? Paul’s admittedly ill-advised musings will likely damage him on the coasts, but will be understood by Kentucky voters who voted for him. (largely because they were angry about out of control government spending)

    I’m sure it may cause some problems for Republicans in blue/purple states, but it likely won’t prevent him from being the next senator from the Bluegrass state.

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  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KatieO

    Peter,

    I agree with just about everything you said. But, I think Rand’s immediate political message, the one that won him the primary, is that he’s not a polished politician. I’m, no well-read libertarian, just a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t know if Rand’s argument has any merit even just hypothetically. But, I do know people are hungry for truth. We want someone who will say what they mean, even if they know the media is going to take it out of context and run amok with it. Wish I had time to expound, but I have to run the kids to the dentist :)

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  5. Profile Photo Member
    @Fredosphere
    Katie O’Mara Schefers:: Peter,

    I agree with just about everything you said. But, I think Rand’s immediate political message, the one that won him the primary, is that he’s not a polished politician.

    If things get bad enough, being a little “off” will be seen as an asset for candidates.

    Say you own a rifle. You notice that every time you fire it, it ends up hitting a spot 8 inches to the left of the bullseye. What are you going to do? The best thing to do is adjust the sight, of course, but if that’s impossible for whatever reason, you’re going to start aiming “wrong”–you’ll aim at a spot about 8 inches to the right of the bullseye. As with rifles, so with ballots.

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  6. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong

    Agree with Keith. Luckily, for Rand Paul, there’s a lot of time left to right the ship. Probably.

    But I think Fredo and Katie have a point, too: maybe this is the Year of the Amateur. And maybe voters will find a clumsy talking, slightly eccentric candidate a refreshing change from the hair-plug-botox group they’re more used to. Maybe.

    Like the way I hedge? Probably and Maybe are my favorite words when talking about electoral politics.

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  7. Profile Photo Member
    @JohnBoyer
    Keith Preston:: I’m sure it may cause some problems for Republicans in blue/purple states, but it likely won’t prevent him from being the next senator from the Bluegrass state. ยท May. 24 at 6:12am

    While this might be true for Kentucky, the larger problem is that his exchange with Rachel Maddow went national. Paul is being portrayed, rightly or wrongly (I think mostly rightly) as the true tea party candidate (much more than Scott Brown, who merely demonstrated the power of the tea party to rally behind a candidate financially). The impression that tea partiers are for somewhat extreme libertarian positions isn’t helpful. In our current political climate, the left is more eager than usual to paint conservatives/Republicans as raaaaacists.

    Granted the question was a set up: if he had said he would have voted for the act, the left would have crowed that he is merely pretending to support limited federal authority for the sake of votes. If he says he would have voted no, he’s painted as a raaaaacist.

    Although I’m inclined to say to Mr. Paul, “You’re not helping,” I do appreciate his honesty.

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  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Stokedonlife
    Peter Robinson: Either that or Rand Paul is making a downright fool of himself. I can understand discussing the hollowing-out of the Interstate Commerce Clause seven decades ago–in law school classrooms, on blogs like ours, or among tiny gatherings of highly intelligent and well-read libertarians. (In my experience, libertarians are always highly-intelligent and well-read. And, there being…..

    Edited on May 22 at 12:52 pm

    I can see validity in your point but I disagree completely. Rand is not a slick politician he looks like a family man, probably a detail guy and a nerd, no doubt. He is used to saying what he really feels and is probably a horrible liar. While these things seem like weaknesses in todays political game I believe the voters are fed up with the pitchmen, spin ninjas, master manipulators, and conscienceless liars. I would gladly welcome a principled individual that was constitutionally grounded over all the Madison ave imaging and picturesque gravitas you can muster. The race card has all but expired, and the media provocateurs have lost all but their last shred of credibility. Imperfect is real, and real seems to be in vogue this season.

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