Don”t look now, but there’s a Republican Senatorial candidate whom conservatives fed up with the neo-cons can get excited about. In the Kentucky primary to be held May 18, Dr. Rand Paul (not named after Ayn), son of the legendary congressman, is leading his opponent Trey Grayson in the polling by twelve points.
Rand, like his father, is a graduate of Duke Medical School and practices ophthalmology. His views appear to be standard libertarian and align very closely with those of the Campaign for Liberty. His opponent is Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
In September, Kentucky Senator and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held a fund raiser for Grayson. It’s been said that McConnell had handpicked Grayson to be the successor of the retiring Jim Bunning. The Ron Paul movement, however, has thrown a wrench in those plans. Paul the son has been able to raise large amounts of money to take on the Republican establishment.
He has to walk a fine line. What made his father the enemy of the party establishment were his non-interventionist foreign policy and civil libertarian positions. Last year in a radio interview with Antiwar.com, the son came out against torture and for a withdrawal from Iraq.
Paul’s success has upset the neo-cons. Politico recently reported:
“Recognizing the threat, a well-connected former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney convened a conference call last week between Grayson and a group of leading national security conservatives to sound the alarm about Paul.
On foreign policy, [global war on terror], Gitmo, Afghanistan, Rand Paul is NOT one of us,” Cesar Conda wrote in an e-mail to figures such as Liz Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dan Senor and Marc Thiessen.
With an attached memo on Paul’s noninterventionist positions, Conda concluded: “It is our hope that you can help us get the word out about Rand Paul’s troubling and dangerous views on foreign policy.”
Also, it’s revealed that the “pro-Israel community” is watching this race very closely. A week after the above report, Conda showed up on National Review‘s blog The Corner to tell us that the former Vice President had endorsed Grayson.
Paul is backing off very little from his controversial positions. While he has come out for military tribunals for terror suspect, he says “I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border.” In a video on his website he discusses the influences of the military-industrial complex and points out something that most Republicans are too dense to understand-national defense is a budgetary issue.
On his page on the Federal Reserve, Paul endorses the Austrian theory of the business cycle which says that booms and busts aren”t “natural” economic occurrences but have their roots in the existence of fiat money. The candidate calls for accountability of the institution. While Paul stops short of calling for ending the Fed, he shows that he hasn”t ignored the wise words of his father.
Grayson’s campaign has fought back by setting up a website called Rand Paul: Strange Ideas. The candidate is shown in front of a psychedelic background with the name of the website under his face. There are tabs you can click on to learn about Paul’s kooky ideas. Just what are they?
Looking over the site, it’s remarkable how incompetent it makes the establishment candidate look. For example, did you know that Rand’s father once criticized Reagan? Ron is quoted: “[Reagan] told me that he would balance the budget, cut back and get the Government off my back. They are not off our backs, they are in our wallets and into our bedrooms and into our private lives more than ever before.”
Another page tells us that Rand Paul “Attacks Sen. Mitch McConnell.” Just how vicious was this attack? Someone asked Paul if there was a hypothetical choice between the Kentucky Senator and the more conservative Jim DeMint for leader of the Republicans whom he would support. Paul refused to answer! We all knew that Reagan was deified amongst the party faithful, but if they worship Mitch McConnell too they”re much more hopeless than we thought.
Perhaps Grayson’s most pathetic attempt to appeal to Republican primary voters is the web ad below:
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Duke happens to have one of the best medical schools in the world. On seeing the ad, Chris Matthews asked “Does Grayson have any pride at all?”, said that the candidate looks like an “idiot” and suggested a different slogan: “How about this bumper sticker, ‘Grayson thinks you’re stupid.’” The Weekly Standard, on the other hand, seems to have been impressed.
What would a Paul victory mean? First of all, it would show that the Republican establishment isn’t invincible. Secondly, it would prove that in this day and age one can win a statewide Republican primary without being an interventionist. Paul would serve as an example and inspiration to others who would much more easily embrace the GOP if it wasn’t for the fact that the party seems to love war.
Most importantly, a Rand victory would ensure that the Ron Paul Revolution would continue. While the elder Paul continues to inspire, he is 74 years old. When he’s retired, all the energy that his movement has brought together will need a major office holder to remain relevant on a national scale. Rand is only forty-five and if he gets elected to the US Senate is probably at least a shoe-in to win the CPAC Straw Poll the first year his father decides not to run.
You know there’s something strange going on the American Right when attendees at the largest conservative conference of the year can be observed both cheering wildly for Dick Cheney and voting in large numbers for Ron Paul at the same event. It seems doubtful that the conservatives can continue to revere both. Keep your eye on Kentucky May 18 to get an idea of the future of the Republican Party.