Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) walks a delicate line, trying to placate his dad's fans and occasionally rabble-rousing about the TSA or the NDAA, while also trying to ease into the Republican establishment. His official endorsement of former Gov. Mitt Romney did not make a lot of people happy. Nor did his mostly establishment-friendly speech at the Republican National Convention at the end of last month.
However, as in most things, it depends on your point of view. Paul the younger's speech may have seemed line-toeing when compared with dear old dad's hell-raising, 20-year smackdown of the GOP. But compared to the other RNC speeches, Rand Paul was downright anarchistic, if only for the four subversive paragraphs that Matt Welch pointed to on August 30. Perhaps the most overtly libertarian being:
Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed.
More exciting still, on CBS This Morning, the good Senator also urged that the U.S. rein in its habit of bombing the hell out of people in other countries. To be fair, Paul took a pragmatic angle there as well, saying that the GOP might do better on the west coast and in New England if they got a bit more Ron Paulish in their foreign policy ambitions. As Reason 24/7 noted earlier today, Paul said:
I think one of the problems we face, as a Republican party, is that we're behind the eight-ball to begin with
We're not winning the West Coast. We're not winning New England. Maybe we need to embrace more Ron Paul Republicans, more libertarian Republicans. … It means people who are little bit less aggressive on foreign policy. They believe in defending the country, but they don't believe we need to be everywhere all the time
We should have a more defensive foreign policy, a less aggressive foreign policy. I think that would go over much better in New England than the typical 'we need to bomb everybody tomorrow' policy you hear from some Republicans.
In further reaching out to poor, lonely libertarians, Paul also went on ABC's This Week on Sunday, and said that the GOP should try to bring libertarians into the fold. And in order to do so, the party could try, again, to be:
Maybe a less aggressive, more socially tolerant but still fiscally conservative policy that may be more libertarian. Might do better in California, might do better in Oregon and Washington and New England, and I think if we had that it would be a great strategy.
Paul also has a new book, Government Bullies, which he talked up on HuffPost Live earlier today. Its subject is federal power run amok, something that the Republicans talk about, but with a lot less specificity and vitriol than Paul during, say, his attempt to prevent the PATRIOT act from being re-upped back in May 2011. Paul's current efforts to to sneak some liberty into the party that sorely lacks it may be too subtle for many. And is Welch noted in the afore-linked piece, the most disturbing aspect to Paul's quiet attempts may be that he is a radical anti-statist anti-interventionist when compared with most others in the party (Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and his vintage-2004-Bush RNC speech being one troubling example). Still, Paul's handful of spirited, Senate floor defenses of the Fourth Amendment constitute more good than most politicians have ever done. That is something, no matter if he goes on to break small government hearts by, say, turning into another Ronald Reagan, all talk, but no friend to liberty.
Reason TV explored the question of how much of a line-toer Rand Paul will be, back at the RNC: