Spinning the Rand Paul Disaster
â€œI’m already hearing whispers especially from the antiwar libertarian hardcore that a strangely respectful and nuanced profile of the GOP Senate candidate from Kentucky via The New Republic‘s Jason Zengerle in GQ is giving them all the more reason to dislike or fear him.â€
Respectful? The article is illustrated with a photo of Rand sitting in what looks like a television studio dressed in a suit and tie from the waist up, and yellow madras Bermuda shorts. He’s wearing dress shoes, and no socks. His face bears the expression of an errant schoolboy whoâ€™s been kept after school, his cheeks puffed out like an exasperated blowfish. Zengerlesâ€™ kindest description of the candidate, eagerly cited by Doherty, reads as follows:
â€œUnlike some of the prominent Tea Party leaders he’s routinely lumped in with, Paul is not an idiot.â€
Dohertyâ€™s reaction â€“ heâ€™s thrilled by such extravagant praise — must leave his libetarian readers baffled, who donâ€™t understand what a high it is to be considered undiotic by an editor of The New Republic.
Truly a pathetic display, one that reveals the existence of yet a new libertarian faction: the libertarian masochists. The piece goes downhill from there, as Doherty tries to frame the growing intra-libertarian debate over the Rand Paul sellout as just a lot of noise made by a few noisome dissenters of the “hardcore” variety:
â€œUnpromising indeed for those who love Rand’s dad Ron’s political bravery and sense on matters of foreign intervention. And I understand why that is infuriating to the extent that Rand is seen as some sort of gold standard for what “libertarian” or even “libertarian-leaning” is going to mean in American politics. But if you are just looking at him as a potential Senate candidate for the Republican Party, well, that means that maybe he’ll be just as bad as every single other one of them on foreign policy. Disappointing, yes, but not infuriating.â€
Not unless youâ€™re one of the thousands of libertarians who, prompted by the endorsement of Randâ€™s father, either gave money or else were talked into actively campaigning for him â€“ in which case waking up to find that youâ€™ve elected someone â€œjust as bad as every single other one of them on foreign policyâ€ would indeed be infuriating.
Doherty then rhapsodizes about all the really really great things Senator Paul will be able to do: form a â€œTea Party caucusâ€ in the Senate, alongside Sharon Angle and Jim DeMint â€“ a caucus, by the way, that is opposed by the actual tea party movement, but never mind that. He cites Zengerle, who avers:
â€œIt’s one thing to oppose Obama; it’s another to oppose legislation and threaten relationships that have been central to how the GOP does business.â€
Oh, and what are these â€œrelationshipsâ€ that are â€œcentralâ€ to the GOP establishmentâ€™s machinations? â€œPaul doesn’t support the military spending most of his fellow Republicans slobber overâ€ â€“- perhaps once, but if Kristol, Senor, and Donnelly didnâ€™t talk him out of that, then AIPAC surely did.
â€œHe doesn’t support handing out big fat prescription-drug benefits to private insurance companies.â€ â€“ well, maybe, but he sure opposes any reform of Medicare, meaning any cuts in the program, and no wonder: a great deal of his medical patients are Medicare clients.
â€œHe doesn’t support the earmarks that Republican senators, especially McConnell, use to curry favor with voters back homeâ€ â€“ this is a phony issue. As Ron Paul has correctly pointed out, earmarks merely mean that money goes to local projects instead of into a general nationalized fund to be disbursed by Washington bureaucrats. Opposition to earmarks is hardly â€œlibertarian.â€
Doherty enthuses: â€œWhat sensible American doesn’t say hoo-damn-ray to that?â€ Nice try, Brian, but my own response is so the fâ€”k what? And just when you thought Doherty couldnâ€™t be more unconvincing if he tried, he outdoes himself by defending the likening of Obama to â€¦ Hitler. Or to the rise of Hitler: or something like that. Oh, and to top it off we are told Rand violates Godwinâ€™s Law â€œwith nuance and intelligence,â€ no less!
Poor Doherty: faced with the Sisyphean task of â€œspinningâ€ what Andrew SullivanÂ accurately calls Zengerlesâ€™ â€œhit pieceâ€ as evidence of a Strange New Respect for Rand Paul, he pulls out all the stops â€“ to no avail. In the end, he is reduced to this:
â€œThe [Zengerle] piece leaves me feeling about Rand Paul as I already did: not as good as his dad; likely better than every other Senator of his party. And it leaves me a little more sure that any success he has won’t be successfully used to shame or marginalize the domestic limited-government movement writ large (except to the extent that it distances it from anti-interventionism, which remains lamentable).â€
Lamentable, but not essential â€“ because itâ€™s â€œhoo-damn rayâ€ for Rand Paul, who thinks Obama is a Nazi, and is â€œsolicitousâ€ of an organization plumbing for war with Iran on Israelâ€™s behalf. Only the â€œantiwar hardcoreâ€ libertarians care about such things: little matter that this is the majority of libertarians in the US.
What I find troubling is that the same magazine that ran countless article smearing the elder Paul as a racist, an anti-Semite, and a embarrassment to the libertarian movement — written largely by a writer who is today employed as a professionalÂ anti-libertarian smear-monger for Slate.com and MSNBC — Â is now extolling Paul the Lesser, who is a genuine embarrassment and openly panders to racist anti-Muslim hysteria. Thereâ€™s an agenda here, but what is it: moral inversion? Bizarro World â€œlogicâ€? Or simply a desire to sell out for the lowest possible price?