Larison was disappointed that Rand Paul voted against Hagel:
Sen. Paul could have been the deciding vote to clear the way for Hagel’s confirmation, but instead he opted to vote the other way, and the justification he gave may have been the worst of all. If Paul had some irreconcilable disagreement with Hagel on principle or policy, it would have at least made sense to vote as he did. Instead, Paul endorsed one of the worst, least credible anti-Hagel arguments of all, which is essentially the Ted Cruz argument that Hagel needs to “prove” that he is not in league with foreign governments or sympathetic with terrorists.
Daniel McCarthy puts Rand’s actions in context:
Since he first won the Kentucky GOP Senate nomination in 2010, Rand Paul has set out to become the Republican’s Republican—not in the sense of being the most loyal party trooper, but in the sense of being its most ideologically committed leader. So when other Republicans propose cutting government, Rand urges deeper cuts. When Marco Rubio gives the party’s official State of the Union rebuttal, Rand gives the Tea Party response. The brand he cultivates is that of the antithesis of the RINO Republican. He takes the party’s core rhetorical concerns—taxes, states’ rights, smaller government—and pushes them farther. Quite probably that reflects what he really believes; it also aligns him with the party’s activist base ahead of the 2016 presidential contest. When he goes up against Rubio, his argument will be, “I’m more Republican than he is.”
But when it comes to defense, Paul’s policy legacy has been realism and non-interventionism and cuts in defense spending. He actually has a chance to get a Republican in the Defense Department who will be prepared to be skeptical about future interventions and austere about future spending. And yet Rand follows the Cruz McCarthyite line. That tells me a lot both about Rand Paul and the movement he is trying to lead.