McCain Vs. Paul
Not everyone was enamored with Rand Paul after his filibuster this past Wednesday in the Senate. Senator John McCain railed against Rand Paul on the Senate floor on Thursday. If you missed it, here’s a shot of the Senator’s performance:
McCain was joined by his
Sith apprentice fellow Senator Lindsey Graham in denouncing Paul’s filibuster. I wish the camera had panned to see if McCain’s mouth was moving as Graham spoke.
McCain wasn’t done criticizing Paul, offering some choice pull quotes to various media outlets, summarized at Hot Air. This one in particular is my favorite:
“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”
John McCain just said that it’s always the “whacko birds”" who get the media megaphone. Let that sink in for a moment. The same guy who hasn’t turned down a Sunday talk show appearance in thirteen years is implying that only kooks get the media spotlight. If you say so John.
Rand Paul couldn’t have asked for a better angry old man to scowl after him, as Jay Anderson explains.
John McCain railing against Rand Paul’s appeal to “impressionable” kids in dorm rooms is so politically tone deaf and out of touch that it makes Clint Eastwood look like a breath of fresh air by comparison. Yesterday, in a textbook example of EVERYTHING that is wrong about John McCain, just after scolding Paul on the Senate floor, McCain lamented the retirement announcement of 78-year-old Democrat Sen. Carl. Levin who has been in the Senate FOR 35 YEARS… since the Carter Administration.
McCain’s world: young upstarts inspiring people to take our liberties seriously and challenging the perpetual war establishment … bad; crusty old farts clinging to power and enriching themselves on the public teet until they’re octogenarians … good.
There’s more to this dust-up than just an old guard versus new guard standoff. McCain and Paul represent two wildly divergent wings foreign policy wings of the Republican Party. Whether you want to call McCain a neocon, a hawk, an interventionist, or some other term that will be invented over the next few years, he certainly has a more expansive view of America’s role in the world. Rand Paul is a bit more of a mystery. While he clearly wishes to narrow the scope of America’s role as global policeman, for lack of a better term, he doesn’t seem to quite share his father’s even narrower vision. Some have speculated that he’s merely toning down his rhetoric in the hopes of being a more palatable alternative in the Republican presidential primaries than his father ever was, though I suspect that’s an overstatement.
Whatever the case may be, Paul and McCain are at opposite poles at least in the Senate’s GOP caucus. Ace of Spades does a good job of explaining why McCain should dial it back if he wants the more interventionist wing to have any credibility. First he explains that he’s not as hawkish as he was after 9/11, yet McCain (and his mini-me, Graham) are still pushing a “super-hawk” line that the public has widely rejected.
McCain wanted total commitment to Iraq– whatever it took. Literally, whatever it took. If it took 100 years, well than that’s what it would take.
Fine. But then he also demanded that the US intervene in Libya and now calls for the US to intervene in Syria.
Perhaps it would be shorter to compose a list of places John McCain does not want the US military involved.
Ace continues to outline McCain’s incredibly hawkish views through the years. Indeed McCain has pushed for greater US intervention in nearly every conflict that America has been involved with to one degree or another, and others where we haven’t sent any troops in as well. Not only has he pushed for greater American intervention, but he has advocated maximum American intervention at every turn.
As such, I think Ace has correctly diagnosed why McCain reacted so viscerally to Rand Paul.
1, Because his mind simply rejects any possible limit to military action reflexively. So when Rand Paul suggests that the President can’t just kill a non-combatant American citizen on American soil, McCain revolts against it without even thinking. Because this is war, and in war there must not be any limits. Limits are for cowards and for losers.
Actually, limits are for anyone in the real world. “No limits” is a slogan fit for a steroid case’s workout sweatshirt, but not for American military policy. Adults have to recognize that we do in fact have limits, and that there are some burdens that we’re notwilling to bear, so there’s no point in constantly lying to ourselves about this.
2, Because he thinks Rand Paul is actually shifting the Republican position to Ron Paul’s empty-headed hippie baby-talk “Love” bull[redacted], whereby, as a matter of doctrine, we must never engage anywhere because only consensual agreements are permitted in foreign policy.
I will discuss how that’s idiotic another time.
I think McCain is right on this point, and yet wrong. Rand Paul is not moving public opinion on this point or even Republican opinion on this point. Rather, public and Republican opinion on this point has already moved, but is currently being falsified because no one ever wants to admit they’re wrong, and Rand Paul is offering people an opportunity to express their real opinion.
I think Rand Paul is closer to public opinion on foreign policy than the American public, and more conservatives and Republicans are shifting that way as well.
Neither extreme is quite right. While neoconservatives seem to have a reflexive desire to intervene at the merest hint of conflict, the paleoconservative reflex to non-intervention is just as wrongheaded. Ultimately I am basically with Ace:
I actually don’t believe in Paulian pacifism and do believe in the need and justification for American intervention on a limited basis and in pursuit of a limited number of objectives.
If McCain also believes that — and of course he does — he would be wise to stop making the choice between the Ron Paul doctrinal peacenikism and the McCain Interventions Incorporated model.
Because McCain will lose, and so will the concept of interventionism itself.
There’s a term for that: it’s called realism, and it used to be the basis of the conservative foreign policy framework. Sounds good to me.