Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Rand Paul Has Decided If You Can't Beat the Neocons, Join Them

Hell hath no fury like Jennifer Rubin on a truth seeking mission:
After declaring certain Christian defenders of Israel to be “warmongers,” arguing we could not defeat the Islamic State without being an air force for Iran, opining we didn’t have a national security interest in Syria or Iraq, accusing interventionists of abetting the Islamic State’s rise and decrying Hillary Clinton as too hawkish, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has decided that if you can’t beat the “neocons” he might as well join them. He told the Associated Press: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.” Well, welcome aboard, Sen. Paul. And thank goodness he has dropped his prior indefensible positions.

There are a few questions about Paul’s remarkable metamorphosis, which follows increasingly vocal criticism from potential opponents such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry (does he owe Perry an apology since he has now adopted some of the same views?) and conservative policy wonks. I asked his longtime adviser Doug Stafford a few of the questions that come to mind:

Has Paul changed his view of the Middle East since his Wall Street Journal pieces?
Was it a mistake to oppose authorization for use of force against Syria?

If destroying the Islamic State requires boots on the ground, would he authorize that?
How does this reconcile with his view that we didn’t have a stake in the outcome of Syria or Iraq?
Isn’t he doing exactly what he criticized – acting as “Iran’s air force” in destroying the Islamic State, or has he changed his mind?
Doesn’t he now have the exact same position as Hillary Clinton, whom he called too trigger-happy?
If we need to destroy the Islamic State, should we increase the defense budget so it is adequately funded?
Was it a mistake for the president to withdraw all troops from Iraq in 2011?
Stafford didn’t answer, but at some point Paul will be asked to explain this complete about-face — and break the news to the UC-Berkeley kids that he’s in favor of war, just like Hillary Clinton is, in the Middle East. The turnaround is so sudden and so at odds with all he has written and said in the past few months that the question will naturally arise: Is he jettisoning his worldview to revive a presidential campaign? If so, the libertarian extremists who followed Paul the Elder may need to find a new isolationist. One Republican operative backing another 2016 contender wisecracked, “He is starting to put John Kerry to shame when it comes to flip flops.”

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