Yesterday, Aaron honored the memory of the fallen by swinging the "9/11" hammer at Rand Paul.
Aaron’s criticism has been nothing if not persistent. He's touched on allegations of “demagoguery” and naiveté framed against legitimate, if latent, concerns of anti-Semitism that swirl around the Elder Paul's fringe-following.
Fair enough. As I understand it, Aaron jumped ship from Canadian-style socialism to Bush-era big-government in support of the war in Iraq. Now, leading conservatives (as opposed to party "leadership") are trending away from that model. Folks like Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz have re-engergized the base on terms of smaller government, both at home and abroad. Needless to say, this changing of the guard is making some folks uncomfortable. Not least of all our hapless president, DC's entrenched establishment, and hawks on both sides of the aisle who've pocketed piles of "defense" contributions.
It’s not just the party's intellectual vanguard who've abandoned Rove's Republican vision. Citing my friend and colleague, David Kirby, from yesterday’s Politico feature, today's GOP has a libertarian lean:
Forty percent of Republican voters said they are most interested in promoting ‘individual freedom through lower taxes and reducing the size and scope of government,’ versus 27 percent ‘traditional values’ or 18 percent ‘strong national defense.’
So here's my problem with Aaron's approach. He can't ding Rand for an unimpeachable fiscal record, or smear his support of our 2nd Amendment. The senator's defense of our civil liberties against the overreach of Executive order was reduced to "demagoguery," but that didn't puncture an unforgettable filibuster.
Fighting against the current, Aaron condemns Paul for one-off statements and flimsy media relationships. It’s easier to blast rhetorical flotsam pulled from an '09 radio hit than a conservative policy agenda. Then again, Aaron might get behind Rand’s anti-federalist argument against a national ban on same sex marriage. Perhaps the party isn’t pulling away, after all.
But yesterday, Aaron left his reader, forlorn and flabbergasted. "God help us," he wrote, should Rand Paul square off against Madame Clinton. That's the puzzle facing a conservative commentator who conflates a couple radio appearances with President Obama's pastoral guide, or Hillary's 'hand-to-God' Bengazhi testimony.
This reminds me of that time Aaron challenged Quin Hillyer (of Alabama’s 1st Congressional District) whether—if faced with a choice between Newt Gingrinch and President Obama—Quin could stomach a vote for the former Majority Leader. Answering in the comment section, Quin assured us "of course" he would.
So, I’d rephrase for Aaron. Celestial hyperbole aside, “Should Republicans nominate Rand Paul to face Hillary Clinton in 2016, will he cast his ballot for President Clinton?”
The match-up shouldn’t demand a question. But if Aaron defers till 2016 (as I predict he will) I'll understand.
I admit that we all fixate on pols we don't like. Lindsey Graham isn't my cup of tea, and I'd be stuck choosing between him and Hillary. In my defense, that's because Graham is hardly "conservative" on the issues. I defy you to justify his stance on taxes, TARP, civil liberties, or climate change, even in contrast to Clinton.
That's not the case where Rand's concerned. If nothing else, he'd offer a principled alternative to politics-as-usual. However unattractive that is to folks like Lindsey Graham or Aaron Goldstein. God help them.
UPDATE (8:40 AM) - I now read that our fellow American Spectator fears Rand could prove "a willing apologist for al-Qaeda."
Aaron, not to worry. This happens to be the same senator who's an ardent supporter of an ancient Christian minority in Syria, regularly goes on record against arming the allies of al Qaeda, and tried to cut ties to the MB in Egypt. I'm happy to provide further clarification as needed.