Maybe it’s the Tiger Woods curse. The world’s greatest golfer befriends and mentors young Rory McIlroy, a chief rival and rising superstar, and next thing you know the boyish McIlroy is walking off the course in mid-tournament after plopping yet another shot into the water. His reputation may not recover. The same might be said about Woods’ golfing partner of February 17. “He’s got an amazing touch,” Woods devilishly said of Barack Obama’s game afterward. It was a turning point. For once the press was irate over being excluded from the president’s country-clubbing, and it made no sense for him to be luxuriating while otherwise committed to a fear-mongering campaign about the coming sequester. He played the wrong political club, it may be said.
And so long as someone like Rand Paul is around, he’ll go on missing the cut indefinitely. There’s nothing sleek about Sen. Paul’s game, nor even particularly smooth. He just is what he is, unassuming but solid. He’s direct, friendly enough, but without any of your typical pol’s instinct to charm or seduce. Yet on March 6 he set off an earthquake whose effects will be felt and measured and studied for the longest time. “Rand Paul…that’s what a man looks like,” a young voter I know messaged me on filibuster night. “Remember who you see there. Paul, Cruz, Rubio, Toomey…that’s the future of the party.”
In that case, let us also remember a few other names, such as those congressmen singled out by Paul for coming over to the Senate chamber in a show of support. This passage from his Washington Post valedictory of March 9 speaks volumes:
And then came the conservative cavalry of Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Ron DeSantis (Fla.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Garland “Andy” Barr (Ky.), Trey Radel (Fla.), Michael Burgess (Tex.), Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Raul R. Labrador (Idaho), Keith Rothfus (Pa.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Richard Hudson (N.C.) and David Schweikert (Ariz.).
None of them (as yet) household names, but all of them the salt of the earth whom the likes of Obama would pulverize. Paul now has their backs, in yet one more reminder that Obama’s slipshod drone policy was just the proximate cause of his filibuster. What everyone instinctively understood, what has captured the national imagination, is that Paul was doggedly articulating an overriding, central concern about the condition and future of liberty under Obama rule. Small-minded folks like David Frum and John McCain may fulminate against him, but Rand Paul is here to stay, as he quietly made clear to our Matthew Walther for the incisive profile Matthew has prepared of this hero of our times (p. 24).
Before 2013 winds down, we expect to see Paul on many Man of the Year lists, a logical successor to this month’s early recipient of that honor. Amity Shlaes is doing heroic work of her own, rescuing the Forgotten Man from New Deal myth and now the great Calvin Coolidge. Bob Tyrrell pays tribute to Ms. Shlaes and President Coolidge alike (p. 12), and to Andrew Mellon. Eighty years of liberal contempt have failed to destroy Coolidge and Mellon’s essence, and thanks to Ms. Shlaes (who, in case you didn’t know, is Mrs. Seth Lipsky, p. 32), and to Rand Paul, we are seeing only the beginning of a serious restoration of America’s fundamental values and timeless commitments.