Rand Paul: Breaking the Lame Tradition of Freshman Senators


Congress-focused newspaper The Hill notes the impressive noise freshman Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul is already making. Some details:

Rand Paul has broken with tradition by eschewing the unwritten rules for freshman senators: Keep a low profile, learn the chamber's arcane procedures and cozy up to senior colleagues.

Unlike ex-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and many others, Paul (R-Ky.) has tried to drive policymaking in the upper chamber instead of sitting quietly in the back.

He has pushed a proposal to cut $500 billion in federal spending over the course of a single year. That has applied pressure to GOP leaders, including Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, to take a similarly hard approach or risk looking timid to Tea Party activists…..

He was the first Senate Republican to publicly dismiss as insufficient a proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to cut $32 billion from the federal budget for 2011.

Hours later, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) released a letter warning House Republican leaders that their spending plan was inadequate.

And on Monday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), one of the most influential fiscal hawks in Congress, said Paul's budget blueprint is viable….

Defying Republican orthodoxy, Paul has called for steep cuts in defense spending. Picking a fight with the pro-Israel lobby, he is seeking an end to all foreign aid, including aid to the U.S. ally.

Like his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the 48-year-old senator is provocative and adept at attracting headlines….

The story discusses Paul's controversial inaugural speech slamming the reputation of his 19th century Kentucky predecessor Henry Clay, and notes that Paul's fellow Kentucky Sentator Mitch McConnell walked off the floor in the middle of it (though his aides say it was a scheduling conflict, not disgust.)

Paul is doing what he's gotta do, say some of The Hill's sources:

Donald Gross, chairman of the political science department at the University of Kentucky, said Paul has become "locked in his own creation" because he ran for office as an outspoken critic of business-as-usual in Washington and now voters and the media expect him to fulfill that role….

Scott Jennings, a member of the Kentucky Republican Party's executive committee, said Paul promised to take aggressive stances during the 2010 election.

"One of the underlying key reasons he was able to build such momentum in the Republican primary is he presented the view and vision of the next senator from Kentucky as being someone who would lead from the front," said Jennings.

I wondered right after his election how much in the way of action and results we could expect from the far-outlying Sen. Paul.