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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Commentary

Rand Paul's vulnerabilities


Published:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., understands that more government doesn't necessarily mean better government. But he needs to address his incoherence on foreign policy and his penchant for playing fast and loose with facts.

In an op-ed in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, Paul tried to bridge the gap between isolationist-libertarians and conservatives: "No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We've always done this.

"What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won't be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation."

Such factually deficient hyperbole will plague his career. The federal government does not have "unlimited and privileged" power to snoop on Americans. If it wants to look at "the details of our private affairs," it must have individualized suspicion and a warrant. It is hard to know whether Paul doesn't understand nuance or doesn't care.

It is not just "hawks" who want a forward-leaning foreign policy. Unlike Paul, many Republicans want the government to "connect the dots" and be in a position to protect commerce, defend allies and do more than prepare emergency-response teams after bombs go off.

It is far from clear that Paul's line on national security - to the left of the president - will resonate with GOP primary voters or with minorities and college students, who are likely to lean Democratic.

President Barack Obama thinks the world is too good for us; Paul thinks we're too good for the world. But the end result is the same: disarming, dropping anti-terrorism tactics, disregarding human rights, retrenchment. Nor is it clear why Paul's suspicion about intrusive government doesn't extend to, say, immigration reform, which will be costly and require an array of technology. Why is that fine but it's not fine to marshal our resources to defend American lives?

Excerpted from washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn.

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