Saturday, March 21, 2015

Paul draws libertarian flak over Tom Cotton letter

Why Real Libertarians Hate Rand Paul - The Daily Beast - Olivia Nuzzi:

March 20, 2015 -  "Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) penned an open letter to 'the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.' The letter stated, rather condescendingly, that Iranian leaders 'do not fully understand our constitutional system.' Soon a new president would be in office, Cotton wrote, and that president could (if Republican, would) 'revoke' any executive agreement President Obama signs.

"Cotton, a neoconservative ... opposes U.S. engagement with Iran, and he has previously expressed a desire to halt any dialogue between the two countries over Iran’s nuclear program. 'The end of these negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action,' Cotton told the Heritage Foundation in January. 'It is very much an intended consequence. A feature, not a bug, so to speak.'

"Paul has historically favored the negotiations Cotton seeks to stop. In 2012, he objected to new sanctions on Iran. In January, as his likely Republican primary competitors Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio warned of the threat of a nuclear Iran, Paul appeared skeptical.... Paul’s position on Iran has always been closer to Obama’s than to that of his fellow Senate Republicans — until March 9, when he joined 47 of his fellow Senate Republicans in signing the letter.

"'This is more than a flip-flop. This is a backflip,' Justin Raimondo, the editorial director of, told me on Wednesday. 'This was the last straw. I’ve put up with a lot from that guy! I’ve had to defend him like a Jesuit. I’m done. Let somebody else do it'....

"Raimondo acknowledges that he was much like many of the other Paul supporters I’ve spoken to: not entirely satisfied with the senator but willing to tolerate him if it meant hearing some of what Raimondo believed expressed on the national stage. 'I thought he was going to start a real debate about foreign policy in this country, and I thought he was a reasonably principled yet pragmatic politician,' Raimondo said. 'And now, apparently he’s just a panderer who would do anything to please people who hate him anyway and will continue to hate him no matter what he does — even if he changes his last name'....

"'He is taking his base for granted,' Raimondo complained.... 'I think he’s counting on the organizational muscle of the Ron Paul groups like the Campaign for Liberty [and] Young Americans for Liberty — but these are libertarians! They don’t take orders from the central committee!'....

"'It’s curious,' Christopher Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said of Paul’s decision. 'There’s a certain level of disappointment and surprise,' he said, but 'it’s not unique to libertarians'...  Overall, Preblo said, the Iran letter is 'just sort of embarrassing'....

"Jack Hunter, a reliable Paul defender and co-author of his first book, told me: 'I don’t necessarily agree with him signing the letter. I guess he has his reasons.' He acknowledged the letter was 'perhaps' a departure from the senator’s pro-negotiation position."

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