Rand Paul and John Bolton Both Don’t Want to Talk About National Security
TAMPA–Speaking at his father’s “We Are the Future” rally on Sunday at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul suggested the political climate might have changed enough that he could give voice to an idea that is anathema to a post-9/11 GOP characterized by support for ever-increasing defense appropriations; “because we’ve talked about audit the Fed so much, we’re now talking about audit the Pentagon.”
He went on to say that in his speech to the RNC, “one of the messages that I will give to them is that Republicans need to acknowledge that not every dollar is well-spent or sacred in the military and we have to look for ways to make every department accountable.”
Paul’s speech tonight made no mention of foreign policy despite his promise. That’s a shame, because he might have provided some counterweight to an otherwise hawkish program, which Daniel Larison breaks down.
When asked about the curious about-face, 27-year-old New Orleans delegate Emil Albricht–sporting “I’m with Rand” and “Old Right” pins–didn’t venture a guess why, but said “the part where he endorsed Mitt I didn’t like too much, but I’m not him and I’m sure he did it for his own reasons.”
While the notable moments of Tim Pawlenty’s stadium speech this evening were mostly just terrible jokes, Adam Kredo reports that earlier in the evening he told a Foreign Policy Initiative panel moderated by Bill Kristol that we should be working out the logistics of how to bomb Iran:
“It’s time to begin to send a different message to” Iran regarding its disputed nuclear program, according to former Minnesota Governor and Romney campaign co-chair Tim Pawlenty.
This would include figuring out how to strike at Iran’s disbursed, protected, and well-hidden nuclear enrichment sites, Pawlenty said
With Rand’s backtrack, McCain’s apocalyptic sequestration warnings, and Pawlenty’s belligerence toward Iran, it seemed almost too fitting that I would run into George W. Bush’s U.N. ambassador and Romney foreign policy advisor John Bolton on the promenade outside the arena. He was on his way in to observe the speeches, and I knew he wouldn’t have much time to answer more than a question or two in passing. So I asked the most important one: given the definition laid out in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, was he at all concerned that his advocacy on behalf of the Iranian dissident group the MEK could be defined as material support for terrorism under the PATRIOT Act?
Bolton, visibly flustered at the suggestion that he is a terrorist supporter, disputed the premise before cutting me off:
“I don’t know what you’re up to, but you’re flatly wrong, and I’m busy, so if you’ll excuse me.”
He is indeed a busy man, but if he ever cares to take some time out of his day to explain why I’m wrong, my email is jbloom[at]theamericanconservative.com. Or he could take it up with Glenn Greenwald or Larison.
(Update: A commenter points out Paul’s line about not continuing to trade liberty for security; he also briefly mentioned taking on both parties’ “sacred cows.” That’s a long way from what he suggested Sunday. I hope he didn’t think a token equivalency between the parties didn’t constitute some kind of bold ultimatum, it would have been better if some party functionary did warn him not to go off-script from his pre-approved remarks. And you don’t get credit for quoting the founding fathers at a Republican convention, sorry.)