Every so often, I catch myself wondering if Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's brand of libertarian politics is what the GOP needs to put itself in contention for 2016. I mean, if a Republican presidential candidate could ditch the baggage that comes with being a Republican presidential candidate and convince voters across the political spectrum that Republicans can be entrusted to let Americans live their lives as they see fit, perhaps the they would have a shot at getting back inside the Oval Office.
And then he says stuff like this:
“Her [Hillary Clinton's] main Achilles’ heel is that she didn’t provide an adequate defense for our consulate in Libya,” Paul said during a trip to Georgia just before the midterms.
Seriously, Rand? You want to make your campaign against Hillary Clinton a referendum on Benghazi? You say you're a different kind of Republican, one who is more in tune with the public than any other GOP politician ... and the number one criticism you have of Hillary is Benghazi?
Well, to be fair to Rand, Benghazi isn't the only thing he's trying to pin on Hillary. There's also this:
In a POLITICO interview, the 51-year-old senator talked unblinkingly about the possibility of a run, and sought to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton — none too subtly raising the issue of her age. At 67, she is 16 years older than he is.
“I think all the polls show if she does run, she’ll win the Democrat nomination,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s for certain. It’s a very taxing undertaking to go through. It’s a rigorous physical ordeal, I think, to be able to campaign for the presidency.”
So Mr. I'm-A-New-Kind-Of-Republican says Hillary Clinton sucks because Benghazi and also because she's so damn old. Never mind that Rand will also say that Ronald Reagan is his hero, despite the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut or the fact that Reagan was older when he became president than Hillary Clinton will be when she does.
But still, at least Rand Paul isn't like a normal politician, consumed with pursuing his own self-interest, right? Well, maybe not:
Within the next few weeks, Paul is set to announce that he’ll run for reelection to the Senate in 2016 – a race that he is likely to run simultaneously with a presidential campaign. Kentucky has a law preventing a candidate from running for more than one office at a time, but Paul advisers believe they have found multiple ways around the restriction without changing the law or challenging it in court, including exploring changing the state’s GOP primary to a caucus.
So Rand Paul is bleating about Benghazi, saying Hillary is too old, and trying to figure out how he can hedge his bets by running for president and re-election to the Senate at the same time ... sounds exactly like what you'd expect from a typical Republican politician. Moreover, Paul's presidential bid has already won
the endorsement of probable Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, another sign that Paul has gone mainstream and has a legitimate shot at winning the GOP's nomination. The main problem for him: If he wins the GOP nomination, he'll do so not because he's changed the GOP, but because the GOP has changed him. He'll be the Republican nominee for president, no more, no less. And in November 2016, he'll lose.