Yesterday, I posed the conundrum of Rand Paul as an investment for major donors. From my perspective, the ratio of risk to reward tilts too heavily toward the former, and is a major cause of Paul’s fundraising troubles. I floated the idea that, contrary to some commentary from the pro-Paul camp, these troubles aren’t necessarily due to policy differences, but are a direct result of just how different Paul is from other candidates on a personal level.

One of my commenters decided to keep it 150% more real when he said, Let me make this simple–he’s a jerk.

I gave that a well-reasoned high five, because I don’t feel like we give simple, decisive judgment calls like the one my friend in the comments made enough credit. It’s easy to get carried away with a hyperanalysis of why a candidate succeeds, or fails, or loses relevancy in the middle of the pool—why not just say it? It’s not us—it’s you.

Yesterday, Paul proved just how true that platitude rings when he accused his colleagues and peers on the Hill of “secretly wanting there to be an attack on the United States” out of spite over policy differences.

The Daily Caller had it first. Watch:

[Emphasis mine]

People here in town think I’m making a huge mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the United States so they can blame it on me.

Seriously, man?

One of the people in the media the other day came up to me and said, “oh, when there’s a great attack aren’t you going to feel guilty that you caused this great attack?”

It’s like, the people who attack us are responsible for attacks on us. Do we blame the police chief for the attack of the Boston bombers? The thing is that there can be attacks even if we use the Constitution, but there have been attacks while collecting your bulk data. So the ones who say when an attack occurs it’s going to be all your fault, are any of them willing to accept the blame? We have bulk collection now, are any of them willing to accept the blame for the Boston bombing, for the recent shooting in Garland? No, but they’ll be the first to point fingers and say, “oh, yeah it’s all your fault, we never should have given up on this great program.”

I’m completely convinced that we can obey the Constitution, use the Fourth Amendment as intended, spirit and letter of the law, and catch terrorists.

I’ve heard a lot of garbage come out of the mouths of politicians, but nothing—literally nothing—pisses me off more than an “I bet you hope everyone DIES” tantrum.

It’s lazy. It’s cheap. It detracts from your point—which I can’t imagine he would want unless achieving a Constitutionally-friendly method of conducting surveillance wasn’t really the point of this whole thing.


Paul—and others who have gone down this road before him—knows that he’s turning the crank on a rhetorical strife machine: [emphasis mine]

Still, by standing apart from the rest of the Senate—even from his allies—Paul became a punching bag for supporters of surveillance. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that Paul and his fans were basically misled and misguided.

“Edward Snowden has done a huge disservice to citizens of our nation,” he said. “Those who furthered the myth of how this program is being utilized, the folks saying phone calls are being listened to—it’s sad.”

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, scarcely concealed his irritation when asked if there’d been conversations about Paul’s suggested changes to surveillance policy.

“The time to negotiate was a week ago last Thursday, when he turned down every rational offer that was made to him,” said Burr. “I can tell you this: There won’t be any negotiations with Rand Paul from this point forward.”

Paul acknowledged the anger from his colleagues. Before the vote on the USA Freedom Act, he chatted with Massie and Amash and generally ignored fellow senators. He did not attend a pre-vote caucus with Republicans.

“You may have noticed, there was a little bit of tension on the floor,” he told reporters later. “I didn’t think it was going to be that collegial.”

Turn the crank, distribute lather, and market the hell out of it. Going into this, Paul knew that he could make a speech, lose on the vote, and still declare victory because his goal was never to move an alternative policy through the chamber.

He got exactly what he wanted in the short-term. Did he get a return on investment, though? Take a look at his fundraising numbers and you’ll get your answer.


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