Rand Paul—Patriot, P*ssy…Or President?

At the recent left-libertarian Students for Liberty Conference, Ann Coulter called a room full of libertarian students “P*ssies” for constantly talking about drug legalization.

In response, the famously verbose young libertarian movement took to its home base on the internet to bash her. But, true to form, it cowardly dodged her main question.

Coulter asked:

We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socialist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you’re a little more manly you would tell them what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’

Ann Coulter

Coulter’s jibe hits especially hard because she is clearly referring to one person in particular—Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky.

During his campaign for the Senate, Rand Paul plainly stated the axiomatic libertarian position on employment discrimination–namely, that businesses should have the right to exercise freedom of association in defiance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But within hours, Paul reversed himself and performed a ritualized grovel. And during his maiden speech on the Senate floor, Paul took care to bash Kentucky statesman Henry Clay for not backing abolitionism.

Since entering the Senate, Paul has made sure to appeal to powerful constituencies within the conservative movement. He`s taken a strong stand in defense of traditional marriage. He was even rebuked by the head of the Family Research Council for joking that he didn`t think President Obama`s position on marriage “could get any gayer.”

Unlike his father, he has made his peace with the neoconservatives, declaring “An attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”

Paul also aggressively pressed Hillary Clinton during the Senate hearings on Benghazi. The scion of an “isolationist” Congressman emerged as an almost Jacksonian nationalist.

Even Senator Paul`s advocacy of defense cuts fit  in with the Beltway Right`s new focus on limiting spending.

Many libertarians were becoming uneasy with Senator Paul’s regression into seemingly standard Republicanism.

However, Rand Paul`s 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday has brought home his libertarian base and established him as a national leader. Paul held the Senate floor, and America’s attention, by demanding the Obama Administration answer whether the President has the right to use drones to kill Americans on American soil. He was initially joined by Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, but over the course of the day also won support from Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell, and Reince Priebus.

Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours.

Even libertarian critics disgusted with Rand`s respectability have expressed their support. Paul finds himself the head of a bipartisan coalition in defense of civil liberties. [#StandwithRand | The libertarian moment has arrived – thanks to Rand Paul, by Justin Raimondo, AntiWar.com, March 8, 2013]

The Treason Lobby`s favored Republican sons, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, neatly fell into the trap. They attacked Rand Paul and his “impressionable libertarian kids.”

The Amnesty duo, of course, were literally dining with President Obama during Rand`s filibuster.

Conservatives hungry for confrontation reacted with fury against McCain and his Mini-Me. Rush Limbaugh slammed them as the “old guard playing footsie with Obama” while Paul was making a stand.

Rand Paul`s political masterstroke nailed down conservatives, brought home libertarians, and embarrassed (and intrigued) liberals.

In response, Paul is being refreshingly frank (for a politician) about his plans to exploit his position to run for President in 2016.

Only one obstacle remains on the horizon—the battle over amnesty. How Rand Paul handles this determines whether he will be the Republican favorite for the nomination…or just another false start. There is both cause for hope—and cause for despair.

Rand Paul took strong implicit stances on the immigration issue during his campaign. According to spokesperson Jesse Benton in 2010:

Rand Paul will secure our border by any means needed as our current open border is a threat to national security and economic well-being.

Paul made the common sense observation that Mexican immigrants vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. And he forthrightly opposed birthright citizenship.

Even after being elected, Paul called for hearings after two Iraqi “refugees” were arrested on terrorism charges in Kentucky. Paul also had the integrity to actually propose legislation eliminating birthright citizenship in January 2011.

But even at an early stage, there were signs of confusion. Paul reversed himself several times as to his specific platform, and moaned that a border fence reminded him of the Berlin Wall.

The other shoe dropped following the 2012 election. Rand Paul planted the shiv into the back of his Kentucky constituents and endorsed an immigration plan with an “eventual path” to citizenship.” Later, Rand Paul joined the noted political philosopher George W. Bush in declaring that the Republican Party must be the party “embraces the immigrant” and open the door to anyone in the world—if “you want to work, if you want to be an American.”

This endorsement of the neoconservative “proposition nation” delighted fellow travelers on the Left and Crypto-Left. Thus, Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post hailed Paul’s rise because he actually is liberal on Amnesty and will stop “immigrant bashing.”

That said, Rand Paul`s plan for amnesty has interesting details which suggests he is open to forbidden thoughts. At one point, Paul even appeared to suggest that Amnesty could be paired with a moratorium on legal immigration to allow time for assimilation. This was the first mention of a moratorium offered by a major political figure. Furthermore, Paul appeared aware of the paleolibertarian critique of Open Borders, quoting Milton Friedman (and, indirectly, Peter Brimelow) to the effect that you can`t have Open Borders and a welfare state.[Focal Point with Bryan Fischer, January 30, 2013 (Video)]

(It should also be noted that this interview comes from the American Family Association—which by itself should be enough to infuriate left libertarians.)

So there are two possibilities. The first:

  • Rand Paul is playing a long game to simultaneously satisfy left-libertarians, his Kentucky constituents, and the pro-amnesty forces of Conservatism Inc.

Paul`s support of “comprehensive immigration reform” could include a moratorium, something that is obviously unpalatable to both Conservatism Inc. functionaries looking to deliver cheap labor for their masters and progressives who actively favor breaking America`s social fabric and ensuring a permanent leftist majority.

By staking  out a position that is designed to fail, Paul could garner the positive press of being “pro-immigrant” while maintaining his outsider credentials by voting against whatever catastrophe Obama, McCain, Graham, and the rest come up with.

Paul has shown a Frank Underwood -like ability to accomplish such treachery—or, to put it more charitably, utilize such political skill. He is capable of confronting or even infuriating his own libertarian followers, only to win them back later on another issue.

Unfortunately, the second possibility is far more realistic:

  • Paul occasionally says sensible things about immigration in unguarded moments only because the issue is not terribly important to him, and he has not become overly involved in it.

When he is forced to become systematic about it, he defaults to the fantasies of abstract left-libertarianism.

He may be another victim of the great tragedy of the American Right—another man with good instincts inculcated in a self-defeating ideology that tells him he is not allowed to follow them.

Like Conservatism Inc., the emerging Liberty Movement (which is a real force at the grass roots) has made a deliberate choice to refuse to think seriously about immigration issues.

This is in contrast to the paleolibertarian tradition that Rand`s father, Ron Paul, once exemplified. Throughout most of the senior Paul`s career, he issued breathtakingly frank and strong condemnations of multiculturalism, illegal immigration, open borders and birthright citizenship that won him a national following.

But in his last presidential campaign, the candidate who ran ads bragging of his consistency dramatically flip-flopped on immigration to embrace a remarkably shallow collection of left-libertarian slogans.

Unfortunately, like father, like son—though Rand Paul has managed to do it within one term.

The tragedy is this: the Republican Presidential nomination is Rand Paul`s for the takingif he has the courage to lead on common sense immigration patriotism.

Paul has already distinguished himself from the “old guard” of McCain and Graham. But his fixation on federal spending is hardly unique on the economistic American Right. Although his “Tea Party” response to the State of the Union was billed as an alternative to Marco Rubio, the rhetoric and policy prescriptions were much the same. With 70% of self -described Tea Party supporters opposing Medicare cuts, it`s also unclear how simply being a more hardcore budget cutter will help Paul in a Republican primary.

Of course, Paul could make the case that he advocates a more restrained foreign policy. But he has deliberately muddled that perception in order to move closer to the Republican rank and file (and donors).

Paul does have a unique position (compared to many other Republicans) on the drug war. But this will hardly help him win the nomination.

Even on civil liberties, Paul`s thunder was partially stolen by Marco Rubio, who dropped by to quote a rapper and steal some of the credit. Conservative websites from Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh have featured pictures of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz… and Marco Rubio as the heroes of the filibuster, although the latter had almost nothing to do with it.

It is clear that Conservatism Inc. is lining up behind Marco Rubio as their favorite for the nomination, to put a friendly Hispanic (or at least Cuban) face on the same old failed policies of the George W. Bush era. Rubio can even be marketed as the “Tea Party candidate.”

Rand Paul`s civil rights “gaffe,” his appearances on Alex Jones, and his donations from supposed “white nationalists” will be seized upon by Beltway Right functionaries desperate to put a non-white, any non-white, on the top of the ticket for 2016.

The fact is that Rand Paul can`t sneak around, even if he wants to. His only way out is through.

Rand Paul has to frame himself as an outside-the-system candidate and prove that the others are frauds.

President Obama, Big Business, Big Labor, the DNC, the RNC, and McCain, Graham, and Rubio are all lining up to push a nation-breaking amnesty. But Paul could with one stroke distinguish himself from the entire Republican field simply by keeping his “secure-our-border-by-any-means-needed” campaign promises.

Rubio would be instantly discredited and cast into the “Old Guard” with Graham and McCain. And with libertarian, Tea Party, and immigration patriot support, Rand Paul would become the easy favorite for the nomination. He could fulfill the lost promise of the 1996 Buchanan campaign.

Once having embraced him, Conservatism Inc.  would find it difficult to cast him out and do what they did to Pat Buchanan.

And, besides the political advantages, Rand Paul could have the additional consolation of actually saving the country—and ensuring that some of his young followers (outside the lost territory of California) have the possibility of being elected to anything in maturity.

But does Paul see the opportunity? Or does he think he can win a Third World America by talking about cutting spending?

Does he even care?

We will know in the next few months whether Rand Paul is the man to lead a real revolution against the Beltway Right – or if he`s just another would-be corporate lobbyist from Conservatism Inc.

James Kirkpatrick [Email him] travels around the United States looking for a waiter who can speak English.