How Will Rand Be Received?

Nick Gillespie, unsurprisingly, sees a bright political future for Rand Paul:

Surveys such as the Reason-Rupe Poll (conducted quarterly by the nonprofit that employs me) Senators Discuss Balanced Budget Amendmentthat engage respondents on tradeoffs have found that healthy majorities are willing to scratch Social Security (61 percent) and Medicare (59 percent) if they can get out the dollar amounts they’ve paid into these unsound entitlement programs. When you consider such swings in public opinion along with sustained contempt for Obamacare, the rapid embrace of gay marriage and pot legalization, and more, there’s every reason to conclude that Rand Paul’s libertarian divergence from the status quo represents the future of politics rather than a curious diversion.

Chait skewers Gillespie’s defense of libertarianism:

The one sort-of on-point factoid Gillespie offers is a poll conducted by the libertarian Reason foundation showing that, contrary to the overwhelming findings of pollsters everywhere, voters really do want to cut Medicare and Social Security. The unstated joke here, in case you didn’t catch it, is that every interest group has its own handcrafted polls showing that, if you word the question in just the right way, overwhelming numbers of Americans agree with their position on any given issue. And sure enough, Reason’s poll has its own wording that finds people are really keen to cut Social Security and Medicare. But this poll, just like every advocacy poll, is worthless, because in real politics, one side of the issue can’t control the terms by which it will be debated.

Waldman is taking Paul seriously:

In his short time in Washington, Paul has managed to garner an extraordinary amount of good press. And as Robert Costa reports [yesterday], Paul is moving more aggressively toward 2016 than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.

While the rest of them are publicly thinking about thinking about running, Paul and his people are working like busy little beavers. … Costa’s article has lots of details: Paul is raising money, putting together a staff, lining up organizers in key states, and building a social media network. It’s pretty impressive for this stage of the campaign. Of course, it could all wind up like his father’s presidential campaigns did: a well-funded effort with passionate supporters who were nevertheless finite in number.

The comparison between the Pauls only goes so far, though. Rand’s libertarianism is a lot looser than Ron’s was, and the son is willing to cast it off when it threatens him. And he doesn’t come off like your crazy old neighbor.

Weigel’s view of the Costa report:

Rand Paul’s network absolutely reaches across all 50 states. The spadework of the Campaign for Liberty, created after Ron Paul’s 2008 run, created the conditions for Rand Paul to build a new infrastructure based on his own appeal and causes. It’s like a mansion built on the bones of a duplex built on the bones of a ranch house. And it wants the press to tour the mansion.

Regardless of these preparations, Kilgore expects the neocons to sabotage Paul’s candidacy:

[U]ltimately, I’d say the biggest obstacle to Rand Paul’s effort to transcend his father’s Revolution will be the extraordinarily powerful connection between the GOP and the military-industrial complex. Paul has already managed to partially overcome his father’s unsavory reputation in pro-Israel circles, and has carefully avoided the old man’s inflammatory tendency to identify with foreign hostility to American hegemonism. He’s even found ways to participate in Obama-bashing over the president’s alleged “weakness” towards Russia and other adversaries.

But non-interventionism, accompanied by a lust for reducing expensive overseas commitments and getting rid of the hardware and manpower that goes with them, were very near the heart of the Ron Paul Revolution, second only to hostility to the Fed. Can the politically and financially powerful Dick Cheney wing of the GOP ever trust Ron Paul, or fail to back virtually any available rival? I don’t think so. And that may be an absolute bar to Rand Paul’s presidential ambitions.

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)