Jennifer Rubin, whose blog at The Washington Post serves as a sort of dumping ground for undigested neoconservative talking points, claimed on Sunday that Rand Paul "blamed the U.S. for WWII." In 2012, you see, Paul suggested that the punitive measures imposed on Germany after World War I helped fuel the resentments Hitler exploited in his rise to power. (The senator specifically cited the Allies' Naval blockade, which extended past the armistice into the middle of 1919.) Paul further offended Rubin by raising the possibility that the embargoes imposed on Japan before World War II played a role in the run-up to Pearl Harbor. Rubin quotes a couple of her acquaintances who think these are very bad things to say (including "a foreign policy expert at a center-left think tank," who apparently needed anonymity to tell us that Paul represents the "unreconstructed Taft-Lindbergh-Buchanan wing of [the] party") before citing Jeane Kirkpatrick's old line, "But then, somehow, they always blame America first." She caps off her post with the boldfaced, italicized question, What else is out there?
Needless to say, Paul's comments are well within the boundaries of mainstream historical debate, and none of them add up to blaming Washington for the Second World War. (One of the policies he criticized—the blockade of Germany—wasn't even really an American project.) Given that his statements came in the context of defending his vote for sanctions on Iran, I'd say the overall thrust of his remarks was, if anything, too hawkish rather than too dovish. There's no need for me to belabor this; Rubin's post is interesting not as a serious critique but as a bellwether. The rise of a relatively anti-interventionist camp in the Republican Party is driving the hawks crazy.
In that spirit, let's move on to that closing question: What else is out there? Believe it or not, March's most ludicrous attack on Rand Paul from the right was not Rubin's post this past weekend. It was this bit from Powerline's John Hinderaker, reacting with alarm to the fact that Paul's speech at CPAC included a line from a Pink Floyd song:
To me, it seems extremely odd that Rand Paul would single out a Roger Waters lyric from the 1970s in a speech that otherwise quoted classic American heroes. Was Paul's admiring reference to Waters intended as a proverbial dog whistle to let listeners know that he hasn't diverged too far from his father's foreign policy views? Or was his decision to highlight Waters simply a random (albeit odd) choice made by a politician who is unaware that Waters, in recent years, has come to stand for an obsessive hatred of Israel?
Yeah: Why else would a man born in 1963 quote a Pink Floyd lyric, if not as an anti-Zionist dog-whistle? Get on this, Rubin!