No one can be perfectly consistent, but ….
Earlier this week the Democrats released a video contrasting Rand Paul statements against Rand Paul’s previous statements on a handful of issues. The video is a hatchet job and of course some things are taken out of context, but it highlights a major issue that’s been bugging me about Rand Paul.
Take a look at the video the Democrats put together:
It’s not uncommon for politicians to change their views, platforms, or opinions on issues. They are there to serve at the will of the people (at least in theory). Take ISIS for example. ISIS is a different kind of threat to American interests now than they were a few years ago. A policy change from isolationism to one that’s considering an intervention strategy is warranted and few would fault Paul for changing his mind on this particular issue.
My criticism of Paul is not because he’s become an interventionist in a Libertarian body, after all, people don’t flock to presidential election polls all riled up about foreign policy. My criticism is not that he’s changed his mind. My criticism stems from Rand Paul’s refusal to 1) admit his policy stance has changed and 2) handle this policy shift gracefully rather than indignantly.
Matt K. Lewis at the Daily Caller wrote about Paul’s concerning refusal to admit his policy has changed:
If you say to your girlfriend, “Why did you text that guy?” and she denies it, you might then say: “Well here’s a screen shot of you asking him to come over.”
That’s what’s called being caught red handed, and even the worst among us will eventually acknowledge when the jig is up. Sure, she might then employ other tactics such as denial or blame (“But nothing happened!” — “And you never give me enough attention…”), but what she will not do — what she cannot do — is deny (or transcend!) the physical existence of that text message evidence, for, to do so, would be to deny reality and consciousness.
But what if she does continue to deny it? Let’s say she responds with: “I don’t even know that person” — “And besides, I don’t even have a cell phone…”
Now, you are dealing with the type of person who is on a different plane than the rest of us. My advice to you? RUN.
Catching a lot of flak for his foreign policy sidestep, Paul went on Sean Hannity’s show to explain that he was neither an isolationist nor an interventionist. What that leaves, I’m not entirely sure, nor did he bother to explain. He did remind viewers that he loves the Constitution, so that’s good I guess.
The double talk aside, the most off-putting part of the interview was Paul’s visible annoyance to having to explain himself. Unfortunately for would-be presidential contenders, explaining policy platforms and reforms is kind of an important part of the job. Paul’s attitude and tone anytime he’s questioned or backed into a corner is always the same indignant annoyance. It’s that indignant annoyance that seems a tad bit juvenile.
Paul is a mainstream vehicle for some libertarian ideas and I appreciate that about him. He has a distinct advantage over his father in that he’s more likable, personable, wears slightly better fitting suits, and is a significantly better communicator. But his refusal to own these policy adjustments is problematic at best. Ripping the band aid off and dealing with a few distraught supporters now is infinitely better than choosing the path to hackery.
I’d be willing to bet the isolationist crowd will forgive Paul for his foreign policy betrayal given the other issues he supports. But the longer Paul talks out of both sides of his mouth, the more likely he is to lose credibility, not necessarily among galvanized supporters (like his father, they’ll support him to the end), but to the middle of the road voters Paul boasts he’s able to reach.
Paul’s current political strategy leaves a lot to be desired. If the good Senator from Kentucky wishes to remain the consummate Libertarian oracle, he might want to flex those stellar communication skills and communicate his way through this foreign policy mess before it’s too late.
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