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March 10, 2014

Rand Paul To Ted Cruz: I Met Ronald Reagan (Once), My Dad Was An Early Supporter of Ronald Reagan. Senator, You're No Ronald Reagan.

Ukraine is quickly becoming a proxy war. Not between the West and Russia but between Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on foreign policy.

Yesterday on ABC's This Week Ted Cruz followed up on a position he brought out at CPAC trying to walk a line between the John McCain school of Bomb all the Places and what many believe to be Rand Paul's libertarian Leave Them All Alone And We Can Be Friends approach to the world.

"I think U.S. leadership is critical in the world. And I agree with him that we should be very reluctant to deploy military force aboard," Cruz explained. "But I think there is a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did."

Last month, Paul suggested that some Republicans were "stuck in the Cold War era" because they wanted to "tweak Russia all the time."

During the interview, Cruz pointed out that Reagan "changed the course of history" with his aggressive stance towards Russia, suggesting that perhaps a perspective like Paul's might have led to different results.

Today Paul hits back in a piece at Breitbart's Big Peace.

I donít claim to be the next Ronald Reagan nor do I attempt to disparage fellow Republicans as not being sufficiently Reaganesque. But I will remind anyone who thinks we will win elections by trashing previous Republican nominees or holding oneself out as some paragon in the mold of Reagan, that splintering the party is not the route to victory.

I met Ronald Reagan as a teenager when my father was a Reagan delegate in 1976. I greatly admire Reaganís projection of "Peace through Strength." I believe, as he did, that our National Defense should be second to none, that defense of the country is the primary Constitutional role of the Federal Government.

There is no greater priority for Congress than defense of the nation.

I also greatly admire that Reagan was not rash or reckless with regard to war. Reagan advised potential foreign adversaries not to mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.

What America needs today is a Commander-in-Chief who will defend the country and project strength, but who is also not eager for war.

Paul also points out that hawks considered Reagan's willingness to negotiate with the Soviets as proof he was soft on Communism. One prominent conservative of the time even went so far as to call Reagan "a useful idiot" for the Soviets (sorry kids, you didn't build the "true con" vs the rest of the world fight. It's old. Very old.)

I can't tell you how much I hate the idea of the GOP focusing on foreign policy, especially Russia (unless things change a lot between now and then) but it looks like we're going to have at least a temporary fight over it.

I want to like Rand Paul but he just makes me nervous.

It's hard to shake the feeling that if you just scratch the surface enough his dad's craziness will be there.

On the other hand, I like his shrink the government instincts and his attempt to round off some of the harsher edges of the various GOP voting blocs to try and get them to fit together better. I don't know if you can square social conservatism with the more secular leaning fiscal-con wing but at least Paul is trying. Casting drug legalization and prison reform as moral issues of failure and forgiveness might be a bridge between social-cons and his more libertarian base. They don't have to love each other, just see one another as people who aren't directly opposed to the other's goals or hostile on a personal level.

Paul is really good at this stuff and does it in way that isn't condescending or more true-con than you.

Look at his invocation of his dad in that piece. People like me who are freaked out that Rand may just bit a chip off the old crazy bloc get a subtle reminder that Ron Paul maybe a kook but he was an early adopter of the thing we profess to hold dear. Now he skirts over the fact that Reagan would have been appalled by a lot of the things we know Ron Paul was writing about at the time but that's details most people who aren't political junkies will know about. They'll just get the message that the Paul family are old time Reaganites, isn't that nice!

The same goes for Paul's outreach to black voters. He knows he's not going to win a significant number of black voters (but an insignificant number in the right place could help a lot). It's about being "a different kind of Republican". He's not saying Republicans are racists he's just showing that he's a different kind of Republican. And who will be impressed by the nice young man who isn't like all those other crazy Republicans? White swing voters.

There's a lot I like about Paul (and Cruz) but I just can't shake the feeling we're one slip away from the mask slipping and finding out it's really Ron in there. That may not be fair and it may not be true but it's something I think a lot of people who might be incline to support him feel. If his name was Rand Smith it would be a lot easier to get on board with.

Of course there's also the whole, first term Senator with no executive experience hasn't worked out too well recently thing. That obviously cuts against both Paul and Cruz.

Either way, you don't need a time machine to get to 2016. It's here and the fight is on.


Added: Via @allahpundit, Rand Paul's been busy. He also has a piece in Time urging the US to be tough on Putin over Ukraine.


digg this
posted by DrewM. at 10:26 AM

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