Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Paul and the Right’s Ideological Enforcers

Ludicrous ideological policing seems to work only too well.
Rand Paul serious

Michael Brendan Dougherty comments on the silly reaction of some “pro-Israel” hard-liners to Rand Paul’s insufficiently zealous applause for Netanyahu:

And I understand the suspicion. If I ever exerted myself so frantically on behalf of a cause, if lobbying for it required investing so many millions of dollars, and if maintaining party discipline on it required “brutal” ad drops on congressional obscurities, I would worry that some of the response I sought was perfunctory and insincere. The sonnets you receive don’t sound as sweet. The applause seems forced. Almost like they are faking it.

Unfortunately, this ludicrous ideological policing seems to work only too well. Paul’s response in the last two days has been to reaffirm how enthusiastically “pro-Israel” he really is. Even though the fixation on the intensity of his clapping at Tuesday’s disgraceful spectacle ought to have made clear that he will never be able to do or say (or clap) enough to satisfy his party’s hard-liners, he made sure to emphasize his “pro-Israel” bona fides by talking up his co-sponsorship of Corker’s Iran bill and the number of times (50) he has joined in standing ovations for Netanyahu. We can already hear the hard-liners’ response: “He gave only 50 standing ovations? He should have given at least 70.”

Whether Paul is co-sponsoring the bill because he sincerely thinks Corker’s misguided legislation is a good idea or because he feels compelled to do it for political reasons doesn’t really matter, and the enforcers that viscerally distrust him won’t care anyway. Besides, the point of the exercise isn’t to force Paul to do this or that, since the enforcers already assume that Paul isn’t really on “their” side, but to remind all other office-holders and would-be candidates that they shouldn’t ever flirt with any remotely unconventional or dissident foreign policy views unless they want to be subjected to the same absurd degree of scrutiny and criticism. The fact that Paul rushed to dispel the “bad” impression he gave on Tuesday confirms that the enforcers got exactly what they wanted.



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