Ill-Timed Headline of the Week: 'Rand Paul's Fatal Pacifism'

Richard Epstein misreads Rand Paul.


While various Reasoners take Rand Paul to task for his ISIL flip-flop (I'd join in, but Jacob has already said the things I'd say), Richard Epstein has the misfortune to have just attacked Paul for his "fatal pacifism."

Really. Look, here's the headline:

To be fair, Epstein's article went up on Tuesday, and it wasn't fully clear until Wednesday that Sen. Paul would be going all-in on the latest war fever.

Still, Tuesday was four days after Paul told the AP that if he were president, he'd "seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily." There may have been some question at the time about what exactly he meant by that, but it's certainly the sort of language that might prompt one to pause before tossing the word "pacifism" into the debate. (For some more problems with Epstein's argument, see Daniel Larison's comments here.)

This isn't the first time Epstein has had a hard time discerning Paul's positions. Earlier this year, he published an essay that seemed to suggest the senator favored the abolition of all taxes and an end to intellectual property laws. I'm used to seeing Paul's libertarian-leaning fans convince themselves that the man is more radical than he actually is. Apparently, some of his libertarian-leaning critics have the same problem.