Monday, Sen. Rand Paul announced he would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Paul was the only Senate Republican to openly discuss his reservations about supporting Kavanaugh (mostly due to his concerns about his favorite amendment and one he’s made a career championing and filibustering on behalf of — the fourth amendment) but promised he’d keep an open mind.

Sen. Paul explained why Kavanaugh earned his vote:

You knew he would eventually vote to confirm him. Paul routinely grandstands only to circle back and rejoin the Republican caucus.

New York Magazine nailed it:

But in the case of Paul, it is unlikely that McConnell should be too concerned.

After all, we’ve been here before. Paul made a big show of opposing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s nomination over Pompeo’s warmongering tendencies, vowing to do “whatever it takes” to stop him from being confirmed. But in the end, Paul folded, justifying his “yes” vote with a toothless assurance from Trump that Pompeo agreed with the president that the Iraq War was a mistake, and that the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan. (Trump actually supported the Iraq War, and American troops remains in Afghanistan.)

And last summer, Paul complained that the GOP’s “skinny repeal” of Obamacare didn’t go far enough before claiming that the bill counted as a personal win, and voting for its passage after all.

Paul did help kill the Graham-Cassidy version of Obamacare in September before it came to a vote, once again lambasting it as a half measure — though that proposal stood less chance of becoming law than skinny repeal. And he has cast one actual high-profile “no” vote against a Trump nominee: he declined to support Gina Haspel, President Trump’s pick to be CIA director, over her past role in torture.

But neither of those rebellions compare to the prospect of personally torpedoing a Supreme Court nominee who could shift the balance of the court for decades. And Paul has shown that when the chips are down, he is likely to budge.

Later in his Politico interview, the senator mused that despite his concerns, Kavanaugh probably wouldn’t be all that bad.

“Wouldn’t you rather have Kavanaugh than Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” he said. “He’s probably good on economic liberty and overzealous regulation and things like that. So I don’t want to have it sort of in a vacuum, I’ll have to weigh that versus other aspects that he may be a lot better than a Clinton appointee.”

Sen. Paul is as principled as they come, truly, and his decision to support Kavanaugh is illustrative of a mantra the post-Tea Party GOP should adopt — never let the perfect become the enemy of the good. In the political realm (and many places in real life), incremental gains are far better than no progress at all.


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