Home/Daniel Larison/Paul’s Ill-Conceived Outreach to Hard-liners

Paul’s Ill-Conceived Outreach to Hard-liners

Jacob Heilbrunn comments on a dispiriting report about the state of the intra-Republican foreign policy “debate.” Here he comments on Rand Paul’s vain attempts to placate hard-liners in his party:

There’s also the problem that the neocon opposition to Paul is not rooted in a lack of outreach on his part. It can’t be altered with tidbits about bills he’s proposing. It’s based on a sincere and fervent opposition to his foreign policy stands. Finally, cozying up to his detractors is no way to attract the kind of serious foreign policy thinkers that Paul would need to mount a serious campaign even as Jeb Bush seems intent on nailing down anyone of consequence.

According to the same report, Sheldon Adelson’s associates say that he is prepared to fund an effort to undermine Paul if his campaign starts to gain traction. It hardly comes as a surprise that a fanatic such as Adelson would want to oppose Paul, who is considered the least likely to pursue the sort of insane policies that Adelson favors. Nonetheless, Adelson’s desire to torpedo Paul just underscores how useless it has been to try to appeal to people like this in the first place through a series of embarrassing and unnecessary gestures intended to demonstrate Paul’s “pro-Israel” commitment. Whether it has involved extending a security guarantee to Israel that Israel doesn’t need, threatening to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority, or more or less endorsing illegal settlements, Paul has taken extraordinarily hawkish positions over the last two years that make no sense in relation to his other views and needlessly annoy his most likely supporters. In return, he continues to face just as much resistance from the party’s hard-liners as ever.

Hard-liners and maximalists will never settle for anything less than total agreement, and the likely 2016 field is currently full of would-be candidates that would be more than happy to provide that. If Paul is to have any success over the next year, it won’t come from trying to placate those people in the party that will always desire his defeat no matter what he says or does. He can’t possibly win those people over, and as we are seeing he can’t even keep them from being actively hostile to him. It would be a better use of his time and effort to convince his would-be supporters that he isn’t just offering a slightly different flavor of hawkishness.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles