Jon Chait says that the Republican big guns are trained on Rand Paul now, to prevent him from getting the GOP nomination. Why? Because he’s advocated fringe conspiracy theories. Excerpt:
Paul has approached American politics from the diametric pole. In 2009, Alex Jones, asked him, “You’re basically what I would call a chip off the old block. Your policies are basically identical to your father, correct?” To which Paul replied, “I’d say we’d be very very similar. We might present the message sometimes differently … I think in some ways the message has to be broadened and made more appealing to the entire Republican electorate because you have to win a primary.”
Two things stand out about this exchange. The first is that Paul was talking to Alex Jones at all. Jones is a full-out conspiracy theorist — including, but by no means limited to, being a 9/11 Truther. (The full derangement of Jones’s worldview is difficult to summarize; Michelle Goldberg’s 2009 profile captures it.) Paul has actually continued to speak with Jones congenially.
The second noteworthy thing about this exchange was that Paul was openly describing his own infiltration plot. Paul has since worked to carefully distance himself from his father, delivering speeches at comfortably orthodox Republican venues like the Heritage Foundation, where he represented his thinking as just a slight tweak on the good old Republican line. “I am a realist, not a neoconservative, nor an isolationist,” he declared. “Reagan’s foreign policy was much closer to what I am advocating than what we have today.” Why would anybody believe him when he had already told Jones, in a you-do-know-people-can-hear-the-radio moment, that he did subscribe to his father’s views but planned to smuggle them into the Party under a more appealing package?
Chait talks about the various liabilities Sen. Paul brings to a candidacy. Aside from the fringiness, he is dead-set against treating the defense budget as sacrosanct, which is more heretical in official Republican circles than same-sex marriage. (From my perspective, Paul’s foreign policy views are one of the best things about him.) Call Paul a kook if you want, but he is fighting against a party that has learned absolutely nothing from the Iraq debacle. Robert Costa reports:
With the exception of some voices within the circle of libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), those being tapped hew to Republican norms on foreign policy, with emphasis on a vigorous military and a willingness to use force overseas.
It’s even worse than you think:
Former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, known for his controversial decisions during the Iraq war, has been courted by several potential candidates and plans to meet with Cruz. Cruz has hired former Rumsfeld aide Victoria Coates as his national security adviser.
Yet Rand Paul is the crazy one?
But Paul does have this going for him:
Billionaire Republican financier Sheldon Adelson has vowed to spend millions stopping Paul from obtaining the nomination.
Sheldon Adelson: the right-wing George Soros! I love what Ann Coulter wrote about him this week:
Adelson is a big backer of amnesty, telling the Wall Street Journal: “It would be inhumane to send those people back, to send 12 million people out of this country. … So we’ve got to find a way, find a route for those people to get legal citizenship.”
As Milton Friedman said, “With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves.”
Adelson is an especially telling example of the self-interest of businessmen on immigration. His newspaper, Israel Today, the largest newspaper in Israel, is wildly patriotic on immigration (and everything else).
Israel Today has trumpeted the success of the 15-foot razor-wire fence along Israel’s 140-mile border with Egypt, triumphantly noting last August that, for the first time, “no infiltrations were recorded from the Egyptian border, compared to 193 from the same month last year.”
Adelson himself had suggested just such a policy to the Los Angeles Times last year, saying he wanted to “Put a big fence around our country.”
By “our country,” he, of course, meant Israel. In America, he wants illegal immigrants pouring across the border to provide him with an endless supply of cheap labor.
Somehow, having an enemy like that is supposed to hurt Rand Paul.