Tuesday, September 02, 2014

WHEN BARACK OBAMA SAID PRETTY MUCH WHAT RAND PAUL SAYS NOW, RIGHT-WINGERS THOUGHT HE WAS HITLER

You may have read that Rand Paul is a hawk with regard to ISIS:
Kentucky senator Rand Paul tells the AP that he would seek to "destroy ISIS militarily" if he were president -- or at least he seems to be based on statements he made last week at the annual meeting of Americans for Prosperity:
Speaking to a ballroom later, some of the loudest applause for Paul came when he quipped: "If the president has no strategy, maybe it's time for a new president."

In an emailed comment, however, Paul elaborated by saying: "If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily."
However, Jacob Sullum at Reason notes that Paul tried to finesse the question in a Q&A session held elsewhere in Dallas the same day:
I think the strategy has to be that you have an open debate in the country over whether or not ISIS is a threat to our national security. And it's not enough just to say they are. That's usually what you hear—you hear a conclusion. People say, "Well, it's a threat to our national security." That's a conclusion. The debate has to be: Are they a threat to our national security?

Our national security doesn't have to be just stopping at our borders. It can include our embassy personnel. It can include our soldiers. It can include citizens, and people involved in business, and journalists -- things like that. So I think it is a real debate.

What I would do, if you want a strategy, you have to go to the American people. You have to go to Congress. I would convene a joint session of Congress, and I would ask for permission from Congress and say, "These are the reasons why I think ISIS is a threat to us. This is why we should be involved." If [President Obama] doesn't do that, then I think he doesn't galvanize support, we look weak to the world, and in the end we don't really have a strategy.
Conclusion: Rand Paul wants war-skeptic kids' love and Sheldon Adelson's money, so he's talking out of both sides of his face. But we knew that, right? What I find more interesting is the middle paragraph from that Q&A quote. Let me run it by you again:
Our national security doesn't have to be just stopping at our borders. It can include our embassy personnel. It can include our soldiers. It can include citizens, and people involved in business, and journalists -- things like that. So I think it is a real debate.
You know what that reminds me of? This 2008 speech by presidential candidate Barack Obama:
... we’re going to grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy. We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set.

We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.
That's a small portion of a speech about creating national service opportunities, most of them domestic, some of them focused overseas. Remember what happened when Obama said this? Right-wingers freaked out. They took the bit about "a civilian national security force" and reacted this way:
A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may -- may not, I hope not -- but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism." ...

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."
They never stopped reacting that way. They're still reacting that way.

Did right-wingers really believe that Obama meant to turn the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps and the like into a national Gestapo? Did they really think he meant to fund them dollar for dollar at the same level as the military (rather than using "just as well-funded" to mean "as fully funded for their missions as the military is for its mission")? I guess a lot did, though others obviously just pounced cynically on the ambiguous language.

But can you imagine what the reaction would have been if Obama had talked instead about a national security policy that isn't "stopping at our borders" and "can include citizens, and people involved in business, and journalists"? Wouldn't the freakout have been largely the same? Obama wants a domestic army! Obama wants journalists to be part of the national security apparatus! Obama wants business subsumed to his national security ends!

Don't worry, Rand -- no one's going to react that way to what you said, not even if you're the 2016 GOP nominee. The same alarmists aren't going to describe you as a potential Hitler. You're a Republican. It's all good.

5 comments:

tgchicago said...

I have to disagree with you here. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not going to be voting for Paul. I just think his statements that you highlighted aren't in conflict.

I mean, you've got:

"If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily."

and

What I would do, if you want a strategy, you have to go to the American people. You have to go to Congress. I would convene a joint session of Congress, and I would ask for permission from Congress and say, "These are the reasons why I think ISIS is a threat to us. This is why we should be involved."

You really see a huge difference between these statements? They seem pretty much identical to me.

And as far as this statement goes:

Our national security doesn't have to be just stopping at our borders. It can include our embassy personnel. It can include our soldiers. It can include citizens, and people involved in business, and journalists -- things like that.

I think what he's saying is that 'national security' means securing our borders *and* securing our embassies and securing our soldiers and other Americans overseas. Basically he's explaining why his isolationism has caveats. I don't think he was saying that journalists are part of our national security strategy (outside of being potential targets that should be protected).

If you want to say he's trying to have his cake and eat it too by trying to be isolationist generally but for intervention in the case of ISIS, I can see that point. Obviously he'd be dead to Republicans if he said we shouldn't bomb first and ask questions later. It's easily possible that Paul is being disingenuous here.

I also find it kind of amusing that he says:

That's usually what you hear—you hear a conclusion. People say, "Well, it's a threat to our national security." That's a conclusion.

Then he never really explains why ISIS is a threat to our national security. When he fancifully imagines he's president, he claims to have justifications that he would boldly and bravely announce in a Joint Session of Congress, but he never bothers to enumerate them once he leaves his dreamworld.

To me, that's the silliest part of this: Paul is criticizing others for starting with a conclusion, but then he does the same thing himself.

Aunt Snow said...

Not to mention the fact that the Emperor Paul has no clothes. According to him, Obama has no strategy for dealing with ISIS, but what is his?

"have an open debate in the country over whether or not ISIS is a threat to our national security."

His strategy for dealing with ISIS is to TALK ABOUT IT?

Steve M. said...

Excellent point, Aunt Snow.

And tg also, I agree with what you say about his lack of a "conclusion." But what I meant by "talking out of both sides of his face" was that Paul is trying to sound Paul-esque for the libertarian hipsters and bellicose for Sheldon Adelson. What he says hangs together, but it's intended to send two different signals to two different audiences.

Victor said...

If he's hawkish, and doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, then I'm left with the conclusion that this mop-topped fop's Libertarianism apparently stops at legalizing pot.

tgchicago said...

Steve - I guess I don't find it that terrible that a candidate shades things differently for different audiences. I seem to recall one candidate who said something about clinging to guns and religion, but only in a certain setting.

That said, this from Paul gets close to full-on hypocrisy:

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-evolution-rand-paul

(that said, I have to disagree with Benen about his last sentence. The “don’t worry, he’s lying” defense seemed to work pretty well in 2008 vis a vis Obama and same-sex marriage)