Saturday, November 20, 2010

PRE-EMPTIVE STROKE. At Reason, Brian Doherty is telling his fellow libertarians to give new Senator Rand Paul a break. He's only one man:
In terms of passing laws or shifting the Senate in his direction, Paul is not going to get much done by trying to operate as a one-man Tea Party in a minority party. Though he may become a filibuster machine, which given his outlier status means the Senate will have lots of cloture votes to shut him up...

As a legislator, it would be silly to expect much out of Rand Paul, either as a minority party freshman or even as the majority party freshman he may well become in 2012.
This Doherty attributes to the nature of the Senate, where even an illuminated hero like Paul cannot stampede his colleagues to reason with a "Cross of No Gold" speech, but must grub for votes. And when he inevitably fails to shake the walls of Congress with the libertarian thunder of his genius, guess who will then be to blame:
Paul is a Republican who thinks of himself as a Tea Party man. But whether we like it or not, or certainly whether he likes it or not, he is linked in the public mind with libertarianism. While significant differences in style and emphasis exist between him and other libertarians, his general political vision is as radically libertarian as anything the modern Senate has seen.

Thus, any dumb thing Paul says or does, any deviation from small-government principle, will become a public brick against libertarianism. And in an MSNBC world, sticking to his principles will be a weapon used against libertarianism as well...

...When the nation as a whole is paying attention to a libertarian as hardcore as Rand Paul (and he's not even that extreme—he told ABC’s The Week that he’s OK with a $2.4 trillion dollar government as long as it doesn’t spend beyond its means trying to be a $4 trillion government), I fear that most Americans will find they do not like what they see. An inefficacious senator risks becoming an extremist laughingstock.
He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, trapped in a world he never made, etc. So don't expect too much from him. (If only Obama could get that sort of pass from leftists!)

But there is hope:
So if Rand Paul ends up getting nothing done and failing to win mainstream respect for the ideas he stands for, what good is he?

If he can use cable news and the Internet, and skillfully exploit the predictable crisis on the horizons arising from the out of control spendng, inflation, and debt he decries, Paul can become the Tea Party leader he wants to be. Thus he might influence and inspire future politicians who will seek, and perhaps win, congressional primaries, whether or not the powers that be in the media or the party hierarchy like it.
The choice is clear: Paul should quit halfway through his term, take a job on Fox News, and star in his own reality show.

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