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Folks, I’m feeling pretty old this morning.
(uh, this is where you’re supposed to ask “how old?”)
Glad you asked, thanks. I’m old enough to remember when Rand Paul, the Aqua Buddhist-turned-libertarian star-turned Kentucky senator-turned Republican presidential candidate, was going to change everything. Well, not everything, exactly. But he was going to “fundamentally transform the Republican party on foreign policy.” He was the future of Republican foreign policy, you see. In fact, Rand Paul was going to “kick off a Republican civil war on foreign policy.” A civil war! Armies clashing on the field of (rhetorical) battle! It was all so provocative and exciting!
Hey, I realize that sometimes you have to oversell in a headline where there’s clicks to be had, so OK, he wasn’t really going to start a Republican civil war or whatever. But I’m definitely old enough to remember when Rand Paul’s presidential candidacy was clearly going to force the Republican Party to have a frank conversation about its foreign policy platform. The “bomb everywhere, all the time” folks were finally going to have to defend their predilection for foreign interventions and for raining American ordinance down on every country from Libya to Pakistan.
Well, the conversation’s over now, apparently:
Rand Paul dropped out of the 2016 president race on Wednesday, short on cash and support, two days after finishing with under 5 percent in the Iowa caucuses — less than one quarter of the support his father had drawn four years earlier.
The Kentucky senator, who pitched his libertarian-infused brand of conservatism as transformational for the Republican Party, will exit the national stage and instead run for reelection to the Senate. His moment in the 2016 campaign never materialized.
“Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I,” Paul said in a statement.
Seriously, we’re going with “brushfires of Liberty” to describe a presidential campaign that pulled 4% in Iowa and was probably going to do worse than that in New Hampshire?
With Paul out and, let’s be honest, the actual field of Republicans with a shot at the nomination winnowed down to three, the least hawkish candidate left in the field is…Donald Trump. Donald Trump has said, among other things, that America should bomb oil fields under ISIS’s control and then send in American troops to “take” the oil, which manages to be both militaristic and stupid at the same time. But compared to Ted Cruz, who wants to nuke ISIS or at least carpet bomb them (provided he figures out what “carpet bombing” actually means), or Marco Rubio, who is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the most neoconservative donors in the Republican universe, Trump is the dove.
So, yeah, conversation’s over. Nice talk everybody, very productive.