Opinion about Rand Paul

With ISIS forces efficiently and horrifically taking over the country of Iraq, Republicans have experienced a meltdown, campaigning for the return of military forces to the Middle East for a third go at curing the ills of the Shiite/Sunni conflict there, all under the auspices of protecting the United States of America’s interests. Dick Cheney has resurfaced to desperately protect his self-inflated legacy and to smear Barack Obama’s withdrawal of troops from Iraq. According to Cheney, we must blame Barack Obama for his weakness, despite his desire to avoid further American bloodshed at the expense of those politicians who employ war-mongering as modus operandi for all indications of foreign conflict. Republicans have opportunistically seized yet another opportunity to besmirch Obama by ignoring his successes and seizing on conditions that might well be out of the control of American politics. We cannot assume that the ISIS movement would not have occurred if an American presence was maintained in Iraq; in fact, if there were still Americans in Iraq today, we may have been reading about staggering causalities of American soldiers these past two weeks. I would hope that we could all agree that this is best avoided.

Rand Paul appeared on this Sunday’s Meet the Press to speak sensibly about the Iraqi conflict, and I was summarily impressed by his interview. He did not berate Obama’s handling of the situation. He understood that Iraq is a country experiencing religious chaos and confusion, and he did not advocate re-inserting U.S. forces into the conflict. In response to a question of whether he saw ISIS as a threat to the United States, he in turn questioned if we want to send his son or your son to defend Iraqi cities that should be primarily defended by those who live there. He admitted that it is difficult to assess exactly where American interests should be, a common question that no one in America has been able to properly answer. He did not question Obama’s move to send about 300 military advisors to defend the U.S. embassy in Baghdad; in fact, he was especially self-conscious of himself, as he admitted his own criticism of Obama for limited protection of the embassy in Benghazi, so why would he criticize Obama for wanting to protect the embassy in Iraq? He also did not take the bait and criticize Cheney specifically, who by the way is more than happy to specifically label Paul as an “isolationist.” He instead generally questioned the validity of those who campaigned for the past Iraqi war being the best judgmental mouthpieces to speak on the current conflict.

Rand Paul had a sensible assessment of this Iraqi conflict, and it’s especially refreshing to hear it spoken by a Republican voice.

He moved to other issues, speaking prudently about immigration reform. He specifically referred to the confusion over the term “amnesty,” which might be the heart of the problem for good immigration policy. On voting rights, he advocated that we should not suppress the vote, but instead enhance it. He advocated for voting rights of felons who committed non-violent crimes and suggested that more citizens should have the right to vote. He hit the nail on the head when he said that government is unpopular with the public because it seems dysfunctional, and he further stated that “we ARE dysfunctional,” as it is like pulling teeth to pass good reasonable legislation in today’s Congress.

I am not Rand Paul’s biggest fan. I still remember his academic affront of plagiarism and how his initial reaction was, colloquially, “What…me, a plagiarist? Naaahhh…Besides, who cares about intellectual theft in the public sphere? That’s for college professors to fret over.” Rand Paul has also had one too many appearances on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, where they have skewered Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (although, Paul is usually slow to follow Hannity’s lead). This Sunday’s interview also displayed Paul’s opportunistic tendencies as he attacked Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations by stating that she would not be able to answer for her contributions to Benghazi (although, he did state some good questions about her role, specifically the lack of security forces at that U.S. embassy).

Rand Paul does have one thing that works for him as a Republican voice: his track record on the Iraqi war allows him to speak candidly and with some credibility. However, since Rand Paul stepped out of line from the neo-Conservative formation, he now faces the requisite accusations of “betrayer,” “traitor,” and “simpleton” from the rank and file. Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post was quick to attack Paul, despite her own irrational reasoning…Bush didn’t have anything to do with the current situation in Iraq? There’s no evidence that ISIS may have benefitted from America’s insertion of weapons into the Syrian civil war? Rand Paul wasn’t making sense on immigration? Rubin seems to want to pass Cheney in the race to move further right by denouncing Paul so vigorously. When will conservative ideologues understand that their adamancy on being right (pun intended) about EVERYTHING is what is preventing them from regaining validity in the eyes of the voting public?

Rand Paul’s departure from the neo-Conservatives’ talking points gives me hope that there is a viable Republican candidate to run for President in 2016. Jeb Bush, who has also suffered some blowback from neo-Conservatives for his statements on immigration, will most likely lose potential votes because of his last name. Other than that, there does not seem to be a Republican candidate who is willing to take an opposing stance to failed neo-Conservative ideology. I have been waiting for a Republican candidate for the Presidency who is willing to speak rationally and effectively about domestic and foreign policy. Rand Paul has convinced me this past Sunday that he just might be that Republican candidate…

…and it’s a good thing for this country if that’s the case, though many Republicans will now fight him tooth and nail. If the Republican Party is to be saved, then they will have to start moving back to the center on these multiple arguments. Kudos to Rand Paul for doing just that (though, I don’t think even he would admit that he has become more moderate in his platform). As an independent voter, I’m more than willing to hear what he has to say from here on out because of his sensibility on Sunday.

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Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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