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Rand Paul Can Try To Be His Party’s Bill Clinton, But He’ll Never Be President

Memo Pad Politics

Rand Paul Can Try To Be His Party’s Bill Clinton, But He’ll Never Be President


This post originally appeared at Eclectablog.com.

Rand Paul continues to fling any turd he can find at the Clintons for pretty obvious reasons.

The first-term senator from Kentucky has to do something to show the GOP establishment he can be competitive in a general election, and he’s trying to keep the former president out of his home state’s Senate race so that Rand didn’t sell out to Mitch McConnell for nothing.

There’s no doubt that the younger Paul is a savvy tactician. The proof of this is that he’s ironically trying to follow Bill Clinton’s path to the presidency by staking out a series of “Sister Soulja moment“-like strategic breaks from his party.

Last week, he noted that the GOP’s repulsive attempts to stop minorities from voting are “offending” people. Paul was the first Republican to call out Ted Nugent’s “sub-human mongrel” slurs against President Obama. And he’s built lots of credibility with civil libertarians on the right and left by focusing on “drones,” which has become a code word for “civilian casualties,” which happen to be down under this president, along with military casualties and wars.

Though Paul’s own drone stance is complicated by the fact he thinks it’s cool for a drone to take out an American suspected of robbing a liquor store, his non-interventionist tendencies and willingness to negotiate with Iran do all Americans a favor, providing a hedge against the far right’s recent destructive tendencies toward war.

These anti-war stands will also lead to a deluge of attacks funded by hundreds of millions of dollars should he become competitive in the 2016 Republican primary, which has been designed to give Jeb Bush the nomination, should Jeb want it.

However, these stands are not why Paul will never be president. America is as nearly non-interventionist as he is these days. His Aqua-Buddha past and support for ending some of the drug war have seeped into the mainstream, too. Rand probably can even get away with a dad whose “institute” publishes the work of 9/11 truthers.

What voters won’t tolerate are Rand Paul’s key actual policies:

Bill Clinton’s strategy was to make the Democratic Party appear more moderate. Rand Paul gets that rhetorically, perhaps.

But single women aren’t going to elect a president who would appoint Supreme Court justices who believe a fertilized egg has 14th Amendment rights. The middle class and seniors aren’t going to trade the Medicare promise for more tax breaks for millionaires. One decent comment on voter ID isn’t going to erase Paul’s opposition to immigration reform — just as one trip to Detroit won’t make him an “inner city” hero.

The usual caveats apply. The economy could go bust or we could find out that #Benghazi is worse than Iraq, 9/11, Watergate, Iran/Contra, Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy combined.

But Democrats have a natural advantage in 2016, and Rand Paul would take that advantage and put it on steroids.

UPDATE: In a statement to Slate‘s Dave Weigel, Rand Paul’s Super PAC director backed off the senator’s criticisms of voter ID laws: “At no point did Senator Paul come out against voter ID laws. In terms of the specifics of voter ID laws, Senator Paul believes it’s up to each state to decide that type of issue.” 

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr



  1. John Pigg May 13, 2014

    Solid article….
    Rand Paul’s primary attraction to voters are his positions for ending the drug war and ending unnecessary intervention. His weaknesses which the article did a great job assessing is ending some key responsibilities of the Federal government.

    I wish the Democratic Party had a Senator that was Rand Paulesque in regards to foreign policy and drugs, but supported traditional Democratic positions such as social security and trade protectionism.

  2. Bambi May 13, 2014

    Paul plagiarized his speech from Wikipedia. That’s was a small incursion of law from a US Senator compared to telling millions of people that the Civil Rights Act, should not have made it a crime for private businesses to discriminate against customers on the basis of race. Back to sitting at the lunch counters with racists by your side, being forced to listen to hate and distain for anyone different than themselves.

  3. howa4x May 14, 2014

    Once seniors understand the ramifications of a privatized social security and Medicare, Paul will be DOA. Even Christie is calling for prison reform so he is just one of the herd on thins issue. Trying to reach out to minorities by going against voter suppression is good except he is against other programs for minorities who are not crossing the line for him. Also he has to be wary of what the red states are doing. If he champions Medicaid expansion he will anger the GOP base. If he doesn’t he will anger minorities. He is not in a good place to straddle the parties.

  4. FT66 May 14, 2014

    I have nothing against Rand Paul, BUT I don’t think he knows what he is doing. He touches here and jumps there without waiting to see the outcome of what he started first.This is exactly what Henry Kissinger did, and ended in achieving nothing.

  5. Allan Richardson May 14, 2014

    Basically, the “constitutional” positions of the laissez-faire fanatics are that, if we have a serious problem in this country that is causing immense suffering, poverty or even in some cases death, because something has gone wrong with the “free” market, and if only the federal government has the power to solve, or even ameliorate the effects, of that problem, and if it requires some ideas that the 18th century founders did not think of, then the problem SHOULD NOT BE SOLVED. That was their argument against emancipation, against labor unions, against child labor laws, and against Social Security and later Medicare. Better to let people suffer than to violate the “purity” of their preconceived idea of what the PEOPLE’S government ought to do.

    This is analogous to the priest and Levite in the Biblical parable, who would not help the injured man because it would violate their “purity,” while the already “impure” Samaritan, despised by the audience to whom Jesus was talking, went ahead and did the right thing to relieve suffering.

  6. ThomasBonsell May 14, 2014

    Here’s what’s wrong with tying to “privatize” Social Security, in one step-be-step process.

    1 You pay taxes to the US Treasury, not to the IRS, Congress or President.

    2 The US Constitution says money can only be taken from the Treasury to be spend by law.

    3 Only Congress can make law. Two 1923 SCOTUS decisions show that individuals have no say in spending of federal money.

    4 As legal owner of money in the Treasury, government would own what that money buys.

    5 GOP privatizers want that money to buy stocks and bonds.

    6 Government would now own the stocks and could, if the program lasts long enough, own all the stocks

    7 There would come a time when there is no more stock for government to buy so it would have to buy from itself.

    8 By owning all the stocks, including banks and mortgage companies, government would own all the engines of the economy as well as the private property still holding a mortgage and would have control of small businesses that finance operations with loans from banks.

    9 People in the know, know that in the old communist Soviet Union the government owned about 90% of the engines of the economy.

    10 Privatizing Social Security would leave the US government owning much more than 90 percent of our economy and most private property.

    11 The result should be obvious.

    1. Allan Richardson May 14, 2014

      Wow! Tea Party capitalism leads to back-door socialism! A brilliant strategy for the top 1% of 1% to end up owning EVERYTHING!

      1. ThomasBonsell May 14, 2014

        Yep, that be the result of Republicans doing things under great ideas without the faintest idea of what they are doing or what the result might be.

        When I was working in intelligence for Uncle Sam and studying Marxist philosophy in grad school – to make my espionage work easier – I came to realize that if communism ever came to the United States, it would not be by armed revolution or invasion, but peacefully by American politicians not knowing what they are doing. Republicans have proven me right.

        1. Allan Richardson May 15, 2014

          Yep! They quote Reagan: government IS the problem. And whenever THEY take control of government at any level, they PROVE IT.

  7. charleo1 May 14, 2014

    How bankrupt does a political organization need to be, when we hear men
    such as Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz, mentioned as possible future
    Presidents? What they are scrapping isn’t the bottom of the vat anymore. Bush was the bottom. It fell out with Romney. And now, they’re digging a hole in the ground, where the bottom used to be. It’s a serious responsibility, nowadays. Knowing the only thing that stands between one of these nut jobs, and the most powerful job in the world, is a Democrat.

    1. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh May 15, 2014

      Nah, they are digging out the cesspool for these clowns.

  8. Deathstalker187 August 15, 2014

    If Rand Paul wants to have a prayer in hell of becoming president then he needs to take this crap off the table.

    Unfortunately I think it is too late now everyone thinks he is going to try to do away with Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. If that is the case then he just shot his presidential bid right in the head.

    Social Security is needed for people who are about to retire or have disabilities. You can’t take that away and you cant make it private because it will go bankrupt in just a few years.

    Sigh I had my hopes up for a republican I could vote for but I see now this is just not going to happen. What a shame.


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