How Douthat understands Rand Paul’s strategy:
Paul has done what successful politicians tend to do: He’s picked his battles, done outreach to his critics, and consistently framed his arguments in language that conservative voters and activists understand. This has enabled him to break with the party’s hawkish tilt on a number of substantive questions, from the Libya and Syria debates to issues of executive power to the question of whether containment should be an option for dealing with Iran, without coming in for anything like the attacks that greeted Hagel’s nomination. He’s put his foot in his mouth here and there and taken fire from both his friends and foes along the way, and future world events (particularly events related to Iran) may upset his tightrope walk. But at the moment he seems like living, breathing proof that there’s room for actual foreign policy debate within the Republican coalition, and that not every non-hawk need be dismissed as a RINO and read out of the party.
Larison tackles a section of Ross’s post – on realism in the contemporary GOP.