Rand Paul and the Foreign Policy Golden Mean

By on 3.10.14 | 5:26PM

On Friday, Senator Rand Paul gave a rousing speech at CPAC in which he repudiated almost the entire Republican foreign policy of the aughts, attacking unlimited government surveillance and calling for a new emphasis on civil liberties. On Saturday, he won the CPAC straw poll.

Few politicians have engendered such a philosophical shift as Paul, whose filibuster alone completely rewrote public opinion on drones. But the decisiveness of that shift can mask the fact that the details of Paul’s foreign policy, while not indecisive, are tough to nail down. Paul knows there’s a golden mean between the extremes of neoconservatism and isolationism, but he often sounds like he’s still searching for it.

Two days after calling for a less hawkish foreign policy at CPAC, Paul released this op-ed in Time magazine:

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Sarah Palin Reads Green Eggs and Ham

By on 3.10.14 | 3:32PM

Sarah Palin delivered CPAC’s keynote speech on Saturday with wit and feisty charm that ignited the conservatives in the crowd.

Palin had no reservations about attacking Obama and his administration, jabbing at Obamacare, the NSA, and particularly the so-called war on women.

“We know better than to fall for that victimization line,” she said. “But if you have a sister or a friend, you have to set them straight. They entice girls to think they need guys to grow government. That’s not liberation; that’s subjugation.”

Displaying a copy of Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, Palin changed the words and delivered lines like “I do not like this health care plan.”

She also wasn’t afraid to mock Obama's foreign policy strategy: “Vladimir…I’ve got a phone and I’ve got a pen…I can poke you with my pen – pinkie promise!”

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Tim Scott’s Conservative Education Proposal

By on 3.10.14 | 3:21PM

One conservative criticism of our current education policy is that a one-size-fits-all plan is unrealistic. With Common Core and No Child Left Behind pushing the education status quo, efforts in policy reform should be taken to develop more diverse options for students.

In January, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) revealed his “opportunity agenda,” consisting of two Senate bills on education reform. Last Friday, Scott promoted his education initiatives at CPAC:

There are four million jobs vacant today in America. We need to prepare our adult learners to fill those jobs…every child doesn’t want to go to college…we should have a dual track, one for college, and one for the skills necessary to fill the four million vacancies we have today in America.

As college tuition continues to increase and there are fewer available jobs commensurate to the cost of the degree, students should benefit from alternative tracks.

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Santorum Preaches Social Conservatism

By on 3.7.14 | 4:24PM

Despite losing two presidential elections, former senator Rick Santorum delievered a powerful speech at CPAC this afternoon. Rather than setting the stage for a presidential bid, Santorum warned grassroots activists and future Republican politicians not to be concerned with winning elections if it means "losing" cultural conservatism:

'We have to win.' We know what they mean: We have to put aside what we believe is in the best interest of the country so that a Republican candidate can win...They wonder why we lose.


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Rand Paul Rallies CPAC

By on 3.7.14 | 4:11PM

Sen. Rand Paul took a strong stance against the NSA at CPAC today, bringing a whole room of attendees to their feet—something which ten years ago would have been unimaginable. "Generalized warrants that don’t name an individual go against the fabric of the Fourth Amendment," he said.

Although Paul’s speech was primarily intended to sell a liberty-centered conservatism, it also served as a dress rehearsal for the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nominee, specifically between frontrunners Paul and Governor Chris Christie. Yesterday, Christie marked himself as a proponent of a tough national defense. Paul countered by railing against the NSA on moral grounds:

We will not trade our liberty for security…Our rights are inherent. They are inseparable from our person…They come from our Creator and no government can take them away from us. The Constitution merely codifies what exists before time. 

Political philosophy isn’t the only area of dispute. Whereas Christie identified himself as an outsider to an inept Congress, Paul defended his accomplishments in the Senate: "I took a stand. I filibustered…I sued the president."

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Huckabee, America, and Sodom and Gomorrah

By on 3.7.14 | 11:37AM

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee gave a standard-issue conservative speech at CPAC this morning, trashing the NSA, Obamacare, abortion, and all forms of government overreach.

He also focused heavily on his belief in God, the Christian heritage of America, and our national defense. He even quoted Billy Graham’s wife Ruth:

If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Rick Perry on States’ Rights

By on 3.7.14 | 10:26AM

Texas Governor Rick Perry electrified the crowds with his passionate words this morning at CPAC.

Perry introduced his speech discussing the weakened state of America’s place in the world, but quickly turned to solutions and hope:

It’s time for a little rebellion on the battle field of ideas!

His battle cry? Look to the states.

He devoted a good portion of his speech to complimenting his fellow red-state governors, including Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, and Florida’s Rick Scott. Perry said that conservative governors are the “common denominator” between “flourishing” red states. He jabbed at subsidies, the nanny-state, and Obamacare, mentioning the “freedom of the individual” over and over.

His words invited hearty applause from the audience, which erupted into a Texas-sized standing ovation toward the end of his speech.

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Rubio’s Middle Ground

By on 3.6.14 | 3:15PM

In his speech at CPAC this morning, Senator Marco Rubio worked hard to find a middle ground between neoconservatives and Rand Paul on foreign policy.

He focused on the global state of the world – bloodshed in Venezuela, China’s overreach, North Korea’s missile power, Putin’s totalitarian control – and asked Americans to remember that all of this global unrest has negative effects on the American economy:

Americans must be involved in leading the world... we cannot ignore the reality of who we are and the global importance of this nation.

He pled with younger Americans to consider what their world will look like in ten years if we do nothing.

But how will he practically influence the world without directly getting involved militarily? He didn’t quite say.

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Christie Talks Conservatism, His Future

By on 3.6.14 | 1:17PM

“I’m shy. I don’t like to speak my mind.”

Gov. Chris Christie’s CPAC speech this afternoon was more than just a rally for conservatives: It laid the groundwork for a future presidential run.

His speech targeted key issues that conflicting factions of the conservative movement can agree on. He touted his strong pro-life streak, called the Democratic Party “intolerant,” and demonstrated his success as a fiscal conservative in New Jersey.

"Our ideas are better than theirs," he said confidently.

Once he proved his conservatism to the CPAC audience, Christie focused on pragmatics:

We need to start talking about what we’re for….not what we’re against.

Not only are we against Obamacare…higher taxes…bigger government…more intrusion into our constitutional rights…but we’re for a free market society that allows your effort and ingenuity to determine your success, not the cold, hard hand of government to determine winners and losers, which is what this administration has been about.

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Paul Ryan Dismisses Tea Party-Establishment Divide

By on 3.6.14 | 11:11AM

In his CPAC speech this morning, Rep. Paul Ryan dismissed accusations that internal divisions are splitting up the GOP, and said conflicting strategies are a natural part of politics. "I'm Irish," he quipped. "That's what I call family."

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