Rand Paul's Principled Absurdity
May 25, 2010
Rand Paul’s touching (and temporary) display of honesty on the Rachel Maddow show last week has triggered an enormous amount of criticism. Liberals and progressives have denounced as morally offensive Paul’s constitutional concerns about certain provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Conservatives, meanwhile, have taken to ridiculing Paul as a political novice who doesn’t know when to compromise his principles for the sake of expediency.
Rand Paul's Flight
May 22, 2010
When you watch a media feeding frenzy of the sort currently engulfing Rand Paul, it's hard not to feel some sympathy for the target. Paul has a coherent worldview, and news reporters encountering unfamiliar worldviews tend to ignore all the subtlety of the thought and reduce them to caricature. But two of Paul's qualities make me feel that he is actually, in an odd sense, getting off lightly. The first is that Rand is wildly evasive. He's not attempting to explain his ideology while falling victim to a sound-bite press corps. He's desperately trying to deny his ideology.
Rand Paul: Pressure On BP "Un-American"
May 21, 2010
We've had to wait all week, but Rand Paul has finally decided to bless us with his thoughts on the oil spill in the Gulf: STEPHANOPOULOS: But you don’t want to get rid of the EPA? PAUL: No, the thing is is that drilling right now and the problem we’re having now is in international waters and I think there needs to be regulation of that and always has been regulation. What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, you know, “I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.” I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.
Rand Paul Encounters The Mainstream
May 20, 2010
It's fascinating to watch Rand Paul dodge and weave on the question of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul holds a position, standard to libertarians but alien to mainstream politics, that the government had no business forbidding businesses and employers from discriminating on the basis of race. Paul is honest enough not to abandon that position. But he's not honest enough to defend it openly. So instead, every time he's asked a question on the topic, he changes the subject.
Panic to Win
May 19, 2010
Pittsburgh—Almost all the shibboleths of Washington conventional wisdom took a hit in Tuesday's voting. Yet advocates of a single national political narrative clung to the difficulties of two incumbent Democratic senators to keep spinning the same old tale. It's true that the idea of incumbents and party establishments being in trouble won some support from the defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's failure to avoid a runoff in Arkansas. But the races tell different stories. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was defeated by Rep.
The Center Wins. Again.
May 19, 2010
True partisans don’t like to hear this—Texas Democrat Jim Hightower used to say, “There is nothing in the middle of the road, but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”—but American elections are most often battles for the political center. Whoever can marginalize their opponent by identifying them with the far left or right is likely to win. By that measure, the Democrats can be pleased with the results of the May 18 elections.
The Son Also Rises
May 19, 2010
In a night of big political developments, the one that will echo for some time is the victory by Rand Paul in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s not often that someone leapfrogs a still-active and very famous congressional father to get a short track to the U.S. Senate.
A Very Good Night For Democrats
May 18, 2010
Here are the important developments of the night, in ascending order of importance: 1. Joe Sestak beat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. I think this makes the Democrats marginally more likely to hold the Senate seat. Toomey is a radical candidate, and Sestak's win strips him of the anti-incumbent sentiment that's his best shot. That's worth more to the democrats than Specter's superior political polish. 2. Democrats will run Jack Conway against Rand Paul. This puts the Kentucky Senate seat in play -- Rand is the favorite but Conway has a shot.
May 14, 2010
One of the problems with David Frum's campaign to nudge the Republican Party toward the center is that he relentlessly conflates moral arguments with arguments about electoral feasibility. Frum clearly believes that the party's rightward lurch is wrong and renders the party unable to address real-world problems. But, to appeal to conservatives who don't share his beliefs about public policy, he often frames his case in crass electoral. To wit, this denunciation of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul.
And Speaking Of Ayn Rand
April 13, 2010
Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul likes to quote the band "Rush." This should not come as a surprise -- Rush dedicated its album 2112 "with acknowledgment to the genius of Ayn Rand," and Randian themes echo through the lyrics: The key to understanding the piece, the authors argue, is its "'acknowledgment to the genius of Ayn Rand.'" Price and Price observe that Rand, "an expatriate Russian philosopher-novelist," had "extolled the value of the creative, autonomous individual over against the stifling, leveling power of the mediocre 'collectivity'" (93-94).