Rand Paul likes to shake things up. Like his father, Ron Paul—the man who defined libertarianism for most Americans—Rand can be a thorn in the side of his own Republican Party. He proved that in an interview last Wednesday when he blamed the defense hawks in the GOP for the rise of ISIS.
“Right now there are 1,500 groups in the Mideast, many of them bad people like those in ISIS that hawks in our party have been arming…. ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS. These hawks also wanted to bomb [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, which would have made ISIS’s job even easier,” Paul said.
Peter King (R-NY), presumably one of the accused “hawks,” wasn’t about to let that comment pass without a rejoinder. On Thursday he told Andrea Mitchell of NBC: “I think Rand Paul should be a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president….” He called Paul “totally unqualified to be commander-in-chief.”
The outspoken junior senator from Kentucky has an odd mix of supporters on both ends of the political spectrum —young and old, traditional and what some might call radical. He thinks incarcerating people for minor drug crimes is a bad idea, and most people agree with him. Of course, few understand that some, if not many, of those incarcerations are plea deals from higher crimes. He also introduced a bill legalizing medical marijuana, which appealed to a variety of different groups.
Paul is most vulnerable on his defense flip-flop. He thinks the U.S. fails every time it sends troops to fight in foreign countries like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. But his isolationist approach hasn’t resonated with his party or with America’s 21.8 million veterans (not including their families), who tend to vote.
Here are some of his more memorable quotes:
Blame the Hawks in the GOP and…. “One of the people I blame for a lot of this, frankly, is Hillary Clinton. The disaster that is Libya is now a breeding ground for terrorists and also a breeding ground for armament. I really do blame Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya for creating a lot of the chaos that is now spreading throughout the Middle East. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, but Libya’s a failed state and it’s a disaster. So is Iraq or [it is] a vassal state of Iran.”
The Patriot Act: “I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged. At the very least, we should debate whether or not we can live within the Constitution, or whether or not we have to go around the Constitution.”
“You don't know who the next group is that's unpopular. The Bill of Rights isn't for the prom queen. The Bill of Rights isn't for the high school quarterback. The Bill of Rights is for the least among us. The bill of rights is for minorities. The bill of rights is for those who have minority opinions.”
Sugar Daddy Uncle Sam: “We’re borrowing money from China to send it to Germany. We’re borrowing money from China to send it Pakistan. There is an end point at which the system unravels if we’re not careful.”
On Taxes and Big Government:
- “It’s curious that only in Washington can you spend $2 billion and claim that you’re saving money.”
- “I would not appoint anyone to head the Department of Commerce. I would say I’m not spending the money.”
- “The president says he doesn’t know where he can cut. How about we start with the $2.4 million we've spent on origami condoms!”
What Social Safety Net? “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care. But it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do… It really shouldn’t be seen that way.”
On the Human Condition: “[Being] married with kids versus unmarried with kids is the difference between living in poverty and not. We should sell that message. Not in a mean way to tell people who already have made a bad decision, but if you’ve had one child and you’re not married, you shouldn’t have another one.”
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