Election 2016

Rand Paul Is Never Winning Lindsey Graham's Vote, So Why Try?

'Behind leading from behind'

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Sen. Lindsey Graham again slammed the libertarian-leaning senator from Kentucky on Monday's Morning Joe. He claimed that Paul has an "isolationist view of the world that I don't share," according to Mediaite:

Rand Paul is one step behind leading from behind. So yes, even Obama is more aggressive. Obama believes you can kill Anwar al-Awlaki, without getting a court order. Obama believes you can hold enemy combatants, unlawful enemy combatants at Gitmo, without a criminal trial because this is law-of-war detention. So Rand Paul is behind Obama, not just Hillary Clinton.

As always, Graham greatly mischaracterizes Paul's views (it's somehow "isolationist" to consistently apply the rule of law?). But bear in mind that Paul has been perceived by many libertarians as moving to the right on foreign policy matters over the last few months—ostensibly to give him a better shot at attracting a broader array of Republican primary voters and avoiding the wrath of neoconservatives (all six of them!).

But this strategy might be misguided—because no amount of posturing is going to convince the Lindsey Grahams of the world to recant their unfair criticisms. They aren't interested in good-faith arguing, anyway. On the other hand, Paul could conceivably isolate his base by neglecting one of the main issues that makes him interesting to libertarians, independents, and principled anti-war liberals.

A better bet for Paul might be to answer Graham's criticisms by explaining why a libertarian foreign policy would make the U.S. safer, leading from behind (or behind leading from behind, or whatever) be damned. (Related: Keep Rand Paul Weird.)

Relevant viewing from Reason TV, below.