Because pollsters and pundits don’t often know what to do with their free time, the rest of America is subject to polls, articles, columns, soliloquies, conjecture and random grab-assery about who will be the GOP nominee in 2016. Often discussed – in both positive and negative light – is Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
It’s too early to discuss 2016. Potential candidates may be delivering vague hints as a way of building up donations (see, war-chest) and then deciding their options, but the more pressing need is 2014. Republicans need to take the Senate and secure the House before thinking about how to deal with the electoral deficit that faces them every four years.
Sen. Paul is, clearly, one of those potential 2016 candidates. He has, for a while now, been speaking about the presumptive Democrat nominee, former Secretary of State and fake bullet-dodger Hillary Clinton. He has done so through his references to President Bill Clinton and his conduct as both president and governor of Arkansas, referring to him as a “serial philanderer.”
Sen. Paul said on Fox News Wednesday of President Clinton’s extramarital activities:
We have a lot of conservative Democrats in our state who go to church each week and really don’t approve of his behavior, what he has done with sexual harassment in the workplace [referencing the Monica Lewinsky scandal]…A lot of Democrats in our state don’t approve of that kind of behavior.
I think really having him as some sort of role model for the Democrat Party, it’s something they ought to rethink because there are a lot of people who don’t agree with those kind of values.
Comments like this have elicited a wide array of negative responses from Democrats and Republicans.
Fox News contributor and key Bush 43 perfunctory Karl Rove said, “Frankly, Rand Paul spending a lot of time talking about the mistakes of Bill Clinton does not look like a big agenda for the future of the country.”
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated, “I don’t think Bill Clinton is as relevant as Hillary Clinton if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president…I think her record is what will be judged upon, not the record of her husband.”
The problem here is that Rove and Romney are losers. They may be good people. Enjoyable people. One of whom I would have preferred as president over President Obama, but they lost.
In the 2012 election cycle, Rove raised over $300 million dollars with his group American Crossroads, and went 7 for 15 in the races he backed. As I wrote at the time, he’s the Charlotte Bobcats of politics. Romney won the first presidential debate by a wide margin. He chose, then, to be a gentleman in debates two and three. If he had treated Obama in those debates the way he treated Newt Gingrich in Florida, he’d be President Romney today.
Why are either of these men deciding, in February of 2014, what the strategy should be for victory in November of 2016? Should I check what Bob Shrum thinks as well?
Chris Cillizza, of The Fix at the Washington Post, also questioned Sen. Paul’s “attacks:”
Whatever the reason for Paul’s focus on Clinton’s private life, it’s a reminder (although we didn’t need one) that the Kentucky Senator operates under a different code of conduct than his colleagues and the people he will compete against for the 2016 nomination. It’s what makes him intriguing — and dangerous.
What wonderful amnesia of history! It was then candidate Obama, and his team who used the race card against President Clinton in South Carolina in 2008. According to the New York Times (yes…THE New York Times!) President Clinton “accused Senator Barack Obama of Illinois of putting out a “hit job” on him.”
In 1996, the late, great Jack Kemp was the vice presidential running mate of Sen. Bob Dole. The two men never liked each other. Kemp was once quoted as saying, “In a recent fire, Bob Dole’s library burned down. Both books were lost. And he hadn’t even finished coloring one of them.” Bush 41 referred to President Reagan’s economic philosophy as “voodoo economics.”
And who can forget every word ever said about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin? Is it so far back in history that we can’t remember that we were told that her own son was not really hers? That she was referred to as “Caribou Barbie?” That her face was added to a photo of a bikini-clad woman holding a rifle?
Even after the election it continued. She was held responsible for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson. David Letterman made a “joke” about the rape of her daughter by a New York Yankee. Hilarious. Really.
For Cillizza to state that Sen. Paul operates under a “different code” is nonsense. It’s an attack on a man who came to the knife fight with a gun (clearly, he has been listening to President Obama on some issues.)
People can agree or disagree with Sen. Paul’s comments, but they have no right to decide the strategy.
The strategy for winning is that everything is on the table until it’s not. Everything is fair game until it’s not. Everything is a conversation until it’s not. Politics isn’t pretty, and it makes no sense to walk into the arena with your options limited by what losers and the historically blind think are appropriate.
Rand Paul may not be the nominee, but he knows how to fight. That alone makes him desirable, and should have other potential candidates taking notice.
This article originally posted at Rare.