Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Paul confronts warmongering in 5th GOP debate

How Rand Paul Proved His Usefulness | New Republic - Jamil Smith:

"While the other Republicans spent debate night measuring their manhood, the senator from Kentucky provided the lone voice of reason."

December 16, 2015 - "Rand Paul should not have been on the Las Vegas stage Tuesday night for the fifth Republican presidential debate.... But  ... it is inarguable the senator from Kentucky emerged as a key figure during the debate....

"Nearly all the GOP candidates and CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer discussed on Tuesday night was the kind of terrorism associated with radicals espousing Islam. But that gave Paul a chance to shine during the discussions about military force and surveillance — which, not coincidentally, are virtually the only policy areas where he remains an actual libertarian. Paul stood out in a debate lacking in viable ideas for avoiding another endless cycle of war and the continued infringement of personal liberty.

"After warning that regime change in Syria would only exacerbate the challenge presented by ISIS, Paul confronted the reckless and alarming suggestions Republican frontrunner Donald Trump made earlier in the debate that bombing the families of terrorists and closing parts of the Internet might be necessary to alleviate the terrorist threat. 'That entails getting rid of the First Amendment, okay? No small feat,' Paul said. 'If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize that there’s something called the Geneva Convention we’re going to have to pull out of. It would defy every norm that is America.'

"He called out [Marco] Rubio for supporting increased surveillance by law enforcement — an issue that Rubio was using to paint Ted Cruz as insufficiently tough on terror. But the exchange Paul had with fellow also-ran candidate Chris Christie about Russian planes was a pivotal moment in the debate....

"In an October interview with The Washington Post, Paul had deemed the idea of a no-fly zone over Syria a terrible one.... On Tuesday night, Blitzer asked Christie whether he would shoot down Russian aircraft if one or more encroached over such a no-fly zone. 'Not only would I be prepared to do it, I would do it. A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone, Wolf. That’s what it means'.... Christie added, ... 'Yes, we would shoot down the planes of Russian pilots if in fact they were stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office is right now'....

"'Well, I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate,' Paul said, earning applause. 'My goodness, what we want in a leader is someone with judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, "Yes, I’m jumping up and down; I’m going to shoot down Russian planes." Russia already flies in that airspace. It may not be something we’re in love with, the fact that they’re there, but they were invited by Iraq and by Syria to fly in that airspace.' Paul added that Hillary Clinton also supports a Syria no-fly zone — she called for one in October — but he circled back to criticizing the kind of leadership that GOP candidates like Christie are demonstrating during this long job interview process.

"'We need to confront Russia from a position of strength, but we don’t need to confront Russia from a point of recklessness that would lead to war,' Paul said, before dropping a zinger about the Bridgegate scandal. 'I mean, I think when we think about the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think about someone who might shut down a bridge because they don’t like their friends.' Christie shrugged off the dis, but the damage was done.

"I don’t want Rand Paul anywhere near the White House, except perhaps to visit the next Democratic president.... But his presence in the race is serving a key purpose.... Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Christie in particular, have a politics fed by the tough-guy act that their passionate audiences crave, without betraying any understanding of the consequences of unfettered warmongering.... Trump and others in the field are proving that you just need to talk bold to win conservative hearts; it’s irrelevant how many people you talk about casually spying on or murdering to pacify overblown fears of terrorist attacks here in the United States.

"Polling as low as he is, Paul may not prove to be an antidote to all this talk. But it was still heartening to see him — to see someone — inject some sensibility into a debate that seemed more a measurement of manhood than of presidential qualifications."

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1 comment:

  1. With all due respect to Mr. Smith's fine article, I'd like to take issue with his claim that foreign policy and surveillance are "virtually the only policy areas where he remains an actual libertarian". His economic policies, for instance, may not fit the libertarian ideal: but balanced budgets, a lower income tax, the end of progressive taxation, actual spending cuts of over $1 trillion, and enterprise zones with even lower tax rates, are all measures Libertarians can, and should, support as steps that increase liberty.