Being an early frontrunner for a presidential nomination is not always a good thing and Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged as much the other night on Greta Van Susteren’s show. He must have channeled his inner Nostradamus because not more than a day later a man named Putin made his move on Ukraine. He could end up Paul’s worst nightmare.
Now, many of us have been very attracted to Paul. His libertarian message seems, and indeed is, tailor-made for this era when the monumentally incompetent Barack Obama has exposed the farcical nature of big government almost as no one before him. Obamacare is a gift from God to the libertarian movement. It helped me — and I admit I was already primed — to take another step in that direction. That government is best, as the man said, that governs least.
And yet, if there is one caveat regarding libertarianism, it is that it must end at the water’s edge. The idea that the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei or his bearded “moderate” cohort Rohani, Dr. Ayman al-Zawhiri, Bashar al-Assad, Hassan Nasrallah, North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, China’s Xi Jiping or, yes, Vladimir Putin give a rat’s patootie whether the USA is libertarian, a “liberal” welfare state, or something in between is so absurd it doesn’t merit a microsecond of serious discussion. They only care how quickly they can destroy us or, at the very least, render us impotent and take over as much of the world as they possibly can, rendering America “a pitiful, helpless giant,” as we used to say in the sixties.
Bad guys are bad guys — and that’s about it.
The problem for Rand Paul is that his father Ron Paul didn’t quite grasp this message, simple as it is. In the World According to Ron Paul all would be well on the foreign front if we here in America would just mend our evil imperialistic ways. It’s as if a perfectly libertarian USA would somehow, magically, render the rest of the vicious thugs referenced above (not to mention all the other thugs we don’t know yet, planning their little adventures in every corner of the globe, including, quite possibly, your neighborhood shopping mall) quiescent.
Put briefly: that’s insane. In fact, it would more than likely be the reverse. A disarmed, or relatively disarmed, America would only encourage these lunatics, as it has with Putin. To al-Qaeda and company it would be an obvious show of weakness. Allahu Akbar and away we go.
Rand Paul is obviously a very bright guy and understands he might have a weakness in this area. He was quick out of the block to publish a statement when the Ukrainian crisis broke.
But unfortunately for him, he will have to do considerably more than that. As the son and heir of Ron Paul, he has more to prove than the rest of us. We live in a tiny world, which is only shrinking by the second. Years ago, Kipling wrote “the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu.” Now everybody’s dreams and everybody’s facts are all jumbled up. We can’t be isolationists anymore, even if everybody in the country voted that way, closed the international airports and mothballed all the 747s. Isolationism isn’t happening. It’s naive nonsense.
So Rand Paul has a task before him that none of us could envy. We live in a crazy world. Putin is just the start. Anything can happen and probably will, several times over before the election. So Paul has to do what none of us would want to do. He can do it lovingly. He can do it with respect. But — if he wants to be president of the United States — he has to seriously separate himself from his father.