Rand Paul: Wins Day One of CPAC, Helping Rethink the War on Terror

Rand Paul, post-filibuster, strides mightily atop the world of young-skewing conservative activism yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon gives Paul a clear day one victory:

Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster on the drone program has turned him into a superstar here at CPAC, where red and black “Stand With Rand” stickers and T-shirts – distributed by an organization founded by his father — can be spotted on one of every six or seven people milling around outside the main ballroom, especially on the younger folks.

“That filibuster was the best move by a politician I’ve ever seen,” a high school senior from Virginia with a swept bowl-cut (who has seen a lot of moves in his time) exclaimed when asked about his sticker.

When Paul himself took the stage inside, the audience roared in approbation and many stood for the duration of the speech to physically show their support. Paul played the hits right off the back, opening with a joke about his now iconic filibuster. “I was told I get 10 measly minutes, but I came prepared with 13 hours’ worth of material!” he said while holding up a stack of black binders. “Don’t drone me, bro!” a young man yelled approvingly from the crowd.

The warm reception for Paul’s anti-interventionist foreign policy ideas is a stark contrast to the CPACs of years past, when neoconservatives ruled the day, like when Dick Cheney had a keynote spot just two years ago. Supporters of Ron Paul heckled the former vice president from the audience, but now one of their own is on the stage and getting only love from the crowd.....

Seitz-Wald notes that while presumptive 2016 rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who preceeded Paul talked of GOP's goodness, 

Paul offered a plea for a revamp. “The Republican Party has to change,” Paul said. It especially needs to appeal to young people by expanding its conception of limited government beyond taxes and regulation to things like drug policy, technology, and civil liberties, he explained, because the “Facebook generation” is the “core of the ‘leave me alone’ coalition.”

Other bits of Paul-centric CPAC coverage:

Daily Beast:

 If CPAC were a music festival, Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan might be the headliner, butRand Paul would be the obscure indie band-turned-newly-hip main attraction. The senator from Kentucky’s now-infamous filibuster last week seems to have done for Paul what “coming out” did for Frank Ocean. Leaders of many of the young Republican groups considered a staple at the conservative conference said they observed an increase in young attendees, many of them undoubtedly here to stand with Rand.

That article goes on to quote various youthful GOP operatives supporting the "Rand is the future" notion.

•The Wall Street Journal also draws attention to the distinction between a Rubio who seems to think the movement and Party are doing fine and a Paul who calls for a change toward serious dedication to liberty.

Davd Weigel at Slate notes that most people left the room after Paul spoke.

•More Rand Paul at CPAC coverage from Washington Times, Huffington Post, and Atlantic.

Rand PaulPhoto credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Not about CPAC, but Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post noted something interesting about Paul, something I also discussed in my article "3 Problems Rand Paul Faces With His Post-Filibuster Fame": that Rand Paul's talk, framed as being about domestic rights, was at core about foreign policy as well. Krauthammer:

The vexing and pressing issue is the use of drones abroad. The filibuster pretended not to be about that. Which is testimony to Paul’s political adroitness. It was not until two days later that he showed his hand, writing in The Post, “No American should be killed by a drone without first being charged with a crime.” Note the absence of the restrictive clause: “on American soil.”

Now we’re talking about a larger, more controversial issue: the killing-by-drone in Yemen of al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki. Outside American soil, the Constitution does not rule, no matter how much Paul would like it to. Yet Paul’s unease applies to non-American drone targets as well. His quarrel is with the very notion of the war on terror, though he is normally too smart to say that openly and unequivocally. Unlike his father, who implied that 9/11 was payback for our sins, Paul the Younger more gingerly expresses general skepticism about not just the efficacy but the legality of the entire war.

That skepticism is finding an audience as the war grinds into its 12th year....

[[UPDATE: As commenters have noted, Krauthammer is nuts about Constitution not applying outside U.S.; here's Glenn Greenwald beating him up thoroughly on that point. Back to original post....]]

Yes, Rand Paul said nothing of substance about non-interventionist foreign policy at CPAC. He played more to a Ronald Reagan tradition of Reader's Digest-y tales of stupid ways government wastes our money. Yes, one can make too much of CPAC success; Rand's father Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll in 2010 and 2011 and did not end up--yet--winning the movement, much less the Party to which the movement attaches.

But here's his son, extending the march of the notion that what we need most out of government now is for it to limit itself and leave us alone--not to fight culture wars or real wars. It's a good thing.

I wrote about Paul's CPAC talk here yesterday, complete with full video.

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "The Wall Street Journal also draws attention to the distinction between a Rubio who seems to think the movement and Party are doing fine and a Paul who calls for a change toward serious dedication to liberty."

    Rubio must be an opponent of the War on Drugs, because whatever shit he's taking can't be legal.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You don't get to the head of the table by speaking uncomfortable truths. You get there by saying "the organization is dynamite, and here is how I would keep us moving forward.

  • ||

    Paul took his fight to the People in a manner that couldn't be denied except by the likes of Dick Durbin (D-Chicago). It was a pretty fantastic political move. Rubio is schmoozing his party which may also prove wise politically. They worked together at the filibuster to pretty good effect. Maybe they can tend two fields at once.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why does he always have that pursed lips look? Is he a dentist with bad teeth or something?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Also, why does he think everying is "eeexcellent!"

  • Ska||

    I just thought he was doing the universal hand gesture for humongous vagina.

  • NeonCat||

  • some guy||

    Maybe there's only 2 dentists in his home town and he's the good one.

  • ||

    He's obviously trying not to smile or laugh in that picture. If I were him I'd be tempted to all the time.

  • Lyle||

    Rand Paul would intervene if it came to it. He knows what guns are used for.

  • Calidissident||

    Actually defending the country. Not playing world police or "spreading democracy"

  • Lyle||

    Yeah, if he's ever President he'll be defending the country by defending its interests around the world.

    You'll see dude.

  • ||

    I've said this before, but if Rand is capable of fooling die-hard interventionists like Lyle or Cycho, there's hope yet. Though I'm sure they feel the same way in reverse

  • Cytotoxic||

    Why yes we do...

    BTW there's no such thing as a 'diehard interventionist' aside from McCain and few others. There is always an appropriate time to do... almost anything at all really. Acknowledging that does not make one a 'diehard ____'. In any event, I and I imagine Lyle have basically DGAF'd on FP a long long time ago.

    'Cycho' is very original and clever. A+

  • Lyle||

    Yep, pretty much.

  • robc||

    Krauthammer and John, lying together.

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Why do conservatives get off skewing the young?

  • Not a Libertarian||

    Should have been "How do...." #editfail
    The "Why" is obvious.

  • T||

    the “Facebook generation” is the “core of the ‘leave me alone’ coalition.”

    Citation most definitely needed. Tell me what generation that is before I call bullshit. A lot of people under 30 (and over 30) are just fine with being told what to do for their own good.

  • Calidissident||

    While most young people are liberal (and/or apolitical), Ron Paul and Gary Johnson supporters were both disproportionately young

  • Cytotoxic||

    I second that. Facebook functions like a conformity machine. A way to express just how with 'the hip' one is.

  • ||

    Interesting. Maybe it's just my nature to be argumentative, but Facebook is where most of my arguments occur and they tend to split fairly even on most topics when other "friends" join in. I come here for the echochamber.

  • ||

    This is just getting my hopes up, only to be dashed with the harsh cold water of reality.

    Repeat after me. There is no libertopia. There is no libertopia.

    I'm afraid with all this attention, he's going to peak early. While he'll do great things for the cause, it'll be hard to keep voters excited for four years and it will provide more time for scrutiny.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    The "scrutiny" is already predetermined - he's a RAAAAACIST who hates civil rights!!1!1! He wants childrenz to starve in the street!1!!

    Hell, if the Donks can accuse Ryan of wanting to push Granny off a cliff, and he's almost a status quo guy, what do you think they will do to Rand Paul?

  • Tonio||

    Hey, at least he's getting the message out there.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Stop worrying. Someone like Rand Paul is not going to sweep in and take the nomination as a relative unknown. He's got years to let people get comfortable with his positions, and he needs them.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Don't worry be happy. I don't think he's peaking. But if he is...oh well. Better that than nothing.

  • ||

    Krauthammer truly IS the enemy...

    ...the killing-by-drone in Yemen of al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki. Outside American soil, the Constitution does not rule, no matter how much Paul would like it to.

    Huh?

    So I guess when you vacation overseas you check your rights at the border.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Yeah, that is wrong and stupid, kind of mixed like a soft serve cone of nof'inway.

  • ant1sthenes||

    The Constitution rules anyone acting as an agent of the government of the United States, regardless of where they might be. Well, in principle, anyway.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    ...Rand's father Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll xxxxx and did not end up--yet--winning the movement, much less the Party to which the movement attaches.

    I don't think the comparison is entirely accurate. I like Ron Paul, but it's pretty clear his supporters "hacked" the CPAC poll. Rand Paul's support within the Republican party and the conservative movement is more genuine.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I also think a lot of libertarians make the same mistake in analyzing Paul that Krauthammer makes - assuming that Paul's foreign policy views are his father's. Paul's made clear (both in speeches and policy positions) that he doesn't consider himself a strict anti-interventionist, but a foreign policy realist. Now, it's a testament to just how interventionist the Bush/Obama foreign policy position has been that realism seems close to non-interventionism. That said, realism has the ability to gain a lot more traction in Republican and conservative circles.

  • trshmnstr||

    I think that he has "softened" positions as compared to his father, which will make a lot of conservatives who thought his father was a "kook" take a second look.

    Also, he has a ton more political savvy than his father did, which will also take away from the "kook" factor in the Republican party.

  • ||

    AND is a much better speaker. I loved Ron, but listening to him talk made me cringe.

  • Ted Levy||

    Along the same lines, here's a great quote from GMU economist Don Boudreaux:

    "In what universe is a human being, one called “president of the United States,” who cannot be trusted to spend other people’s money wisely – who is held to be rash and irresponsible when pushing legislation to extend health-insurance coverage – who is regarded as arrogant and ignorant for his support of greater government regulation of financial markets – who is accused of being a dangerous social engineer when he launches schemes to redistribute wealth – who is exposed as a typical, high-on-hubris, popularity-grabbing politician who never lets his incomprehension of matters soothe his itch to tax, spend, and issue diktats all in ways that conservatives correctly understand to be destructive – in what universe is such a person to be trusted and saluted as Our Protector and as a paragon of prudence whenever he turns his attention to deploying military force?"

  • CatoTheElder||

    "In what universe ...?"

    Unfortunately, that would be the same universe that we inhabit, because that's precisely what most folks - conservative and liberal - in fact do.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Well, I suppose I should add that it has to be a universe with a President selected from the Democratic Party.

    Because, if the bozo were a Republican, there would be a fairly significant anti-war movement.

  • spyle||

    his hair is much better in the 2nd pic... not sure why he doesn't go back to that hairstyle

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