Two things to share with you. First, a portion of Dan McCarthy’s article over at The American Conservative. You should read the whole thing, but here’s a key section:
The dilemma for Rand is that his core supporters are with him because they believe he really is different from the rest on foreign policy, but to reach beyond that core he has to downplay the difference. Rand can’t do well as just Mr. Small Government because more Republicans seem to want Walker for that role, and Cruz can also compete for it. Rand’s core supporters don’t have a reason to go to another candidate, but there aren’t enough of them to make him the nominee. And there are fewer of them the more he triangulates.
His most devoted supporters dismiss those who are abandoning ship as “purists.” But there’s a spectrum: at one end are those who won’t settle for less than another Ron Paul, which Rand was never going to be. At the other are those who will stick with Rand no matter where he stands—either out of personal loyalty or out of an undying hope that he doesn’t really mean it when he falls in with GOP orthodoxy. But most of his potential support lies between the extremes, and that middle ground is where he’s failing to make the sale.
Going into the race Rand Paul could seemingly count on two iron-clad advantages: he would have plenty of funding, whether from Silicon Valley or from an army of small donors like those who backed his father. And he would have a ready-made bloc of activists composed of the more pragmatic of his father’s supporters and additional battalions of grassroots conservatives brought into the liberty movement by the senator’s ecumenical outreach. Paul’s struggle to win support either from the Silicon Valley or from a volume of grassroots supporters comparable to his father’s indicates there’s something about his campaign that fails to persuade the very people who should be most easily persuaded.
Rand’s strategy, unlike his father’s, is all about winning. But what no campaign professional likes to admit is that not every client has a chance of winning. The way the party’s attitudes presently stand, Republicans are not ready for Rand Paul. He could try to change the party so it’s ready for someone like him in 2020 or 2024. But instead he’s changing himself to be like the party of today. And he’s losing.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to altering the nation’s political course. If you want a very different foreign policy from what Republicans (and indeed Democrats) are used to, you can’t sneak it in by winning a single presidential election—just as you can’t stop abortion or erase the tax code with one November victory. A great deal of persuasion is necessary before the elections will follow, and the relationship between elections and public persuasion has to be mutually reinforcing: persuade more, then win more, then use your higher profile to persuade still more and win still more. That’s how you build a movement. It’s the only way.
I asked Scott Horton for the kind of ideas Rand might draw from if he’s going to distinguish himself and rally a skeptical base, lest he risk appearing to be another forgettable “fiscal conservative.” Here’s a selection of Scott’s ideas, with a few of mine thrown in:
The invasion of Iraq in 2003, which every other candidate on this stage save one supported, handed all of eastern Iraq, from Baghdad down to Kuwait, over to the puppets of the Ayatollahs in Iran. It turned all of western Iraq into a Sunni jihadist paradise. There had never been al Qaeda in Iraq until the invasion of that country created them. These men will protect you from radical Islam the way a downpour protects you from getting wet.
This was one of the worst strategic blunders in U.S. history. And it was supported by practically everyone on this stage, who ignored or laughed at the warnings of sober voices like my father’s, who predicted the sorry outcome we’re seeing now. How can we entrust our national security to people who fell so readily for such a disastrous idea?
Thousands of our men died, along with hundreds of thousands of theirs, fighting in a massive civil war for the Iran-backed Shiites, which ended with those Iran-backed Shiites in charge. Is that a cause you’d want your son to die for?
I demand answers: how could you have made such a gross strategic and moral mistake? I repeat: you turned Iraq over to Iran. Why did you ignore those of us who warned you that this was exactly what would happen?
But this trillion-dollar disaster wasn’t enough. Many on this stage turned right around and joined Hillary Clinton in toppling yet another secular dictator — this time Muammar Gaddafi, whom George W. Bush had cut a deal with for giving up his nuclear technology. And who was waiting in the wings to replace Gaddafi, as was widely reported at the time? Why, Libyan veterans of al Qaeda in Iraq. This is insanity.
But they still weren’t through. Even after they finished helping the bin Ladenites overthrow the government in Libya, many of the men on this stage joined Hillary once again, this time calling for the overthrow of the secular dictatorship in Syria.
Assad is a brutal tyrant, to be sure, but his government and army have the support of all the Christians, Druze, Shiites, Alawites and most Sunnis, too. Because who’s the opposition in Syria? The head-chopping suicide bombers of al Qaeda in Iraq, now called al Nusra and ISIS. Those are the people you want to fight for?
If the other men on this stage had had their way, al Qaeda or the Islamic State would be occupying Damascus right now.
They’ve got us fighting for Iran in Iraq, for al Qaeda in Libya and Syria, for and against both in Yemen, and they’ve created a new generation of thousands of bin Ladenite terrorists, now even claiming their very own state in what used to be western Iraq and eastern Syria. That would have seemed impossible just a few years ago. But no horror is too much for the men on this stage not to blunder into.
Remember how we Republicans are supposed to be skeptical of government intervention? We ought to be much more skeptical of government intervention to remake the Middle East. It’s beneath Republicans to indulge in naive daydreams of all the glorious things government can accomplish. Leave that nonsense to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
As for Iran: the truth is, that country never had a nuclear weapons program at all. Whatever small-scale experiments they’d been working on were halted more than 12 years ago, according to both the CIA and the Israeli Mossad. Their nuclear program was always an IAEA Safeguarded and inspected program under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
All this new deal does is expand the inspections regime and scale back their non-military program even further, so that even if they did change their minds and decide to try to make nukes it would take them at least a year to do so. It’s a perfectly good deal.
Even George W. Bush recognized that Iran would have to be able to keep at least some of their nuclear energy program, under sufficient safeguards. That’s what this is. I’ll be voting for it.
These guys cry all day about the evils of Iran, but as I said, their war in Iraq was the best thing that ever happened to Iran. These men have cheered on the greatest foreign-policy fiasco in U.S. history. When they get something right for a change, I’ll start listening to them. Whatever they have to say about Iran is more likely to be the opposite of the truth.