Rand Paul’s Loopy Ascent

At risk to a party that must muffle its cuckoo’s nest, the junior senator from Kentucky spreads his wings.

Comments: 250

  1. Remember the Million Man March? I think there was a Million Mom March, too. Rand Paul will see Washington overrun with the Million Old People March if he tries to cut Medicare. Don't be messing with the most popular program in America.

  2. How about a million cane march?

  3. This has always stumped me. Why do the majority of elderly Americans vote for GOP candidates? Candidates from a party that is determined to undermine the social safety net - Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.

    Why do so many elderly - and mostly white elderly - Americans listen to Bill O'Reilly and other Fox-heads who routinely espouse the same desire to destroy that safety net?

  4. According to Wikipedia, Paul specializes in cataract and glaucoma surgeries, LASIK procedures, and corneal transplants. What do you imagine is his beef with Medicare? Does he somehow imagine that private insurance companies would offer higher reimbursements? There is a streak of the small businessman in his kind of medicine, and I think he may not be aware of his own interests. The only way a medical provider can be a solo practitioner today is to contract with health plans or the government. Check the overhead, Rand. Here is a clue: Insurance execs are the ones driving the fancy cars and living in the big houses on fat salaries. Tea party indeed!

  5. Insurance executives are the Gauleiters of today, living high off the needless expense and worsening health of others. To see that they really do to society, listen carefully to the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Urinetown," where somebody usurped the right to charge people for a basic human function, buying off politicians to do it. This exactly what is happening today.

  6. In fact, private insurance pays as much as 5-10 times what Medicare pays for cataract surgery (probably the most common operation an ophthalmological surgeon does these days).

    However, according to several "Times pick" favorite posters here, Dr. Rand Paul is "ignorant and uneducated", as we all know, anyone can just flunk out of high school, then hang out their shingle as an eye surgeon -- without graduating medical school, plus years of surgical residency.

  7. So true (about health insurance exec pay). An Internet search shows that the top 20 raked in $1B over 10 years. Whew!

  8. I don't think Mr. Bruni should waste his time pondering whether Rand Paul will win the Republican nomination for president.

  9. Kev, Frank has NO curiosity about the man. He and some others are dispatched to shoot holes in any and every Conservative as soon as they appear on the radar screen. Stay tuned for more.

    You didn't think early March's character assassination of Dr. Ben Carson was accidental, did you? It was as accidental as a Kardashian press appearance.

  10. While I agree with you, I believe that he was only mentioning the issue that there are so many, out there, who actually believe in this fool.

  11. Rand Paul trained at the knee of his dad. He knows what people latch on to. He also knows that continuing his dad's work within a pure Libertarian framework will place him exactly where his dad was for many decades. If the Tea Party can infiltrate and overtake the GOP, why not the Libertarians? Well, that is exactly what he's doing.

    The Paul family's brand of simplicity resonates with people who are not particularly well-educated. My guess is that their appeal among college students wanes relatively quickly, as they go through their humanities requirements and realize the impracticality and social disconnection of libertarian thought.

    Rand Paul is astute and opportunistic. He is in a position to use those issues that the GOP is failing at to his advantage by drawing from his libertarian views. Take the legalization of drugs, drones, wars, and the budget. If he were a true libertarian, he'd be in favor of Roe v. Wade and marriage equality. But he isn't.

    What he also isn't, as we saw in his 13-hour tour-de-Rand, is well-informed or well-educated. He is also extreme and very racist, just like his dad. Those are his Achilles heels.

  12. Keep in mind that many of the wealthy no longer need the USA consumer for their wealth, don't particularly want them educated, and if probed deep enough would admit that serfdom would be just fine for them.

    Remember, during Romney's campaign the one woman's comment about the nails ladies not knowing the voting issues.

    "But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."

  13. I don't think you have encountered many young people, particularly young men, in the tech community, Rima. Libertarian thought is rife in that group despite most of them holding college degrees. They probably didn't spend much time taking those humanities courses you mention or paying much attention during them. They are also more likely to imagine a world populated by the self-interested rational actors of economic theory than one where structural cleavages along class, race, or gender lines prevail.

    I was talking about this phenomenon with my daughter, a college junior, the other night and suggested it might have something to do with coming of age and seeing the amount of tax withheld from their paychecks. True they may have held jobs while in high school and college, but most peoples' incomes at that stage of life are low enough that taxes don't really hit home.

    I suggest spending a few hours browsing political discussions at places like slashdot.org. You'll be surprised.

  14. Peter....astute observation which I may share and insight about. The slashdot techie crowd is heavily populated by engineers and computer scientists. They are an enclave of men (<10% women) highly paid right out of college and trained to think of themselves as the elite of the nation. They plan to be millionaires and don't want you take the money they worked so hard for. They are not critical thinkers about social issues, to say the least. They don't support immigration because those computer scientists and engineers are going to put them out of work. And they dominate Internet discussion on many of these boards, since the boards are for them.

  15. I hope Rand Paul's wings are not held together with wax.

  16. I hope they are!

  17. Rand Pauls lack of knowledge is astounding. He is a testament to the failure of the educational system in the U.S.
    Rand Paul has only been able to rise due in large part to new media persons asking to interview him as a so called Tea Party darling who the media seems to think speaks for some real substancial number of U.S. Citizens.
    Rand Paul and his denials of so many subjects that are important while ranting how the deficit is going to kill the economy, or how the Afforable Care Act is a failure, to his denial of man made acceleration of climate change through the buring of fossil fuels, All shows he is woefully inadaquate to hold the position of U.S. Senator. CPAC straw poll winner, if the GOP thinks Rand Paul is more qualified or more intelligent than a John Huntsman, the GOP is in the position they are due in large part to poor decisions as this.
    Rand Paul does not represent the working man, the average citizen, women or minorities. He represents redneck, crackers who despise themselves, and everyone not just like themselves.
    Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves for elected not just Rand Paul but another southern cracker in Mitch McConnell. If that's the best Kentucky can do, they are in deep deep deep cowpucky. So is the future of the Republican party. No young person with any amount of real education is going to join the republican party, unless they're skinheads, Nazi's or milita members soldiers of the NRA. Then again they not educated to begin with.

  18. "The best Kentucky can do"? Don't forget Paul's predecessor, the great Jim Bunning. He pitched a no-hitter once!

  19. Just remember, as daft as Rand Paul is, Duke University saw fit to admit him to their purportedly elite medical school. Recalculating...

  20. Nobody in Washington represents the working man, average citizen, women or minorities! Geez, how long have you had your head in the sand? Those in Washington only care about those in Washington and those who can fill their re-election coffers.

    Considering Ron Paul has never taken money from Special Interest and Lobbyist, he is the only one who ever really worked for the people, Not sure about Rand yet but it looks like he is going to play the usual Washington game since he is being mentored by McConnell.

  21. The fact that Rand Paul has risen as a serious voice in the GOP is yet the latest example that today's Republican Party has gone off the rails, as I've documented here on a number of occasions.

    But I'd like to focus on a separate point - let's stop pretending that Senator Paul is promoting any sort of real immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Senator Paul claims that he supports allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually get in line for citizenship. But he would do so only after the border is "secured," such security is certified by the Border Patrol and an inspector general, and Congress votes for each of five straight years that progress is being achieved on making the border more secure. It will be difficult enough to get a sensible immigration reform law through Congress once - getting pro-immigration votes six separate times is a plan that is designed to fail.

    Paul's plan would also decline to require employers to verify the immigration status of their workers. But any legal system that is designed to maintain a distinction between documented and undocumented immigrants needs to include an effective and fair employer verification system in order to be successful. The fact that Paul's proposal does not suggests that he is more pretending to care about this issue in order to get votes, than he cares about sensible immigration reform.

    www.winningprogressive.org

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Winning-Progressive/195682780442236

  22. Good words, they always are from you; however, the problem lies in the uneducated, provincial American who votes theses people in. When will you talk about the real problem in this country, a foolish, uninformed and willfully ignorant electorate? Paul is a senator, and the only way a senator can become one is if people vote him in. There are enough fools who buy this snake-oil salesman's pitch that it is truly scary.

  23. Democrats could use an insurgent movement of the left to challenge candidates who don't support progressive taxation, union rights, better unemployment insurance, more affordable postsecondary education, true national health insurance, strong financial aid for the quarter of American children growing up in poverty, etc.

  24. Progressive taxation, labor, education (except grade school privatization for profit), poverty, regulation, and public investment are not nearly as newsworthy as the distracting culture wars, debt fetishism, and demands to reduce overweaning regulation, which is promoted by wealthy interests, a big investment in their own, short term, profitability.

    Last week had an insurgent movement of the left to challenge not only candidates, but all voters, when the House Democratic Caucus proposed a budget. It was mentioned less than a handful of times, usually as a one liner about it being politically iimpossible. I'm not sure political means what it used to mean.It seems as taboo as proposals to reduce unemployment.

    The effect of campaign donations and lobbyists on our elected representatives, or for news media, the sources and advertisers (who often overlap) affect policies and reporting. Getting from here to publicly financed campaigns, skipping pitchforks or guillotines, would make sane gun regulation, by comparison, a snap.

  25. You mean: Republican primaries result in extreme candidates, so Democrat primaries should pick extreme candidates too? Giving the voters at the election the choice between an extreme Republican and an extreme Democrat?

    Sounds like a recipe for even more gridlock in Congress than we have now, and even more disillusionment with politics.

  26. Let Rand Paul do what Rand Paul is doing. He is shooting himself in the foot, with nobody's help.

    His loopy proposals - abolish many federal agencies (Federal Reserve, Dept. of Education, TSA, etc.), a Flat Income Tax for all, his plans for Social Security and Medicare, etc., etc., are not going to see the light of day. These are laughable ideas for most Americans (except probably the tea-partiers)

    Frank (and the commentators): let Rand Paul be a Paul, like his father. Let him embarrass himself, like his dad has done for the last 30 years in front of the American people.

  27. You're right! Sam! After all , doesn't the U.S.Constitution say out loud that we can have the TSA, Dept. Of Education, and a Federal Reserve?

  28. How could people who vote them in embarrass them?

  29. I would say Ron Paul did everything but embarrass himself over the last 30 years (his lifetime actually). He is spot on the big issues and his idea that the root problem is we expect too much from a gvt that can't provide it is correct IMHO.

  30. These people serve the same purpose as did Palin and Bachmann with their irrational, lying, incendiary rhetoric after the 2008 election – they’re the featured distractions.

    The GOP certainly couldn’t spend two years extolling obstructionism and shilling for the 1% who filled GOP coffers after 2008, so they trotted out their distractions.

    Again, the GOP has nothing to offer and blocks common sense legislation such as prohibition of assault rifles and large capacity magazines.

    And they block the vote to fill the Director's position for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Heaven knows the public doesn’t want to be protected from the financial predators funding the GOP.

    And they reject passing a financial package that increases revenue and closes tax loopholes to help pay our debt.

    And they have no interest in government for the common good.

    So, trot out the delusional nihilists and sociopaths who’ll attract media attention as the GOP tries to figure out how deceive the public and stop hemorrhaging voters.

    BTW Frank, the common loon is an amazing bird with a memorable song and is the animal on the Canadian dollar. Cruz, Paul and their ilk are not loons but nihilists and sociopaths - predators who twist their advanced educations to swindle the public of their American birthright at the behest of sociopath plutocrats.

    But, it's unlikely Canadians would expect an apology from Americans. They, too, can see the GOP gangsters wreaking havoc in our Congress.

  31. There is another way to look at Rand Paul and the succession of flippity dippity looney birds who seem to dominate the Republican party at this stage. Do they sense that this is the last gasp of the hard right in America and are therefore ever more frantic to have impact? Are they, and their party, going for broke, knowing their days are sharply numbered?

    There is a major amount of public flailing about going on. It is as if they are throwing everything available at the wall, seeing if anything sticks. We know they are against the last 80 years of progressive change in govt. and against most of the social change, too. Is that enough for them to win a majority? They sense it is not and they are trying to find something, anything, to bring victory.

    The whole idea behind the tea party extravaganza was to ride the recession into majorities in Congress and win the White House. Oops. When people are out of work, losing houses and desperate, they are ripe for almost any claim. The Republicans have blown that chance, so what's the next phase? No one knows. Rush Limbaugh was reduced the other day to saying that the public will finally "turn on Obama" when he is caught on a microphone "dissing" a popular figure, like Justin Timberlake. Ha. Desperation drips from that heady analysis like syrup from pancakes.

    The GOP dilemma is born, in part, from the fact that most Americans accept their govt. pretty much as it is. They can't find a place to put the lever.

    http://terryreport.com

  32. The GOP has no dilemma. The American people have a dilemma . There are so many uneducated, provincial voters who actually take these imbeciles seriously that the rational person should worry. We have become a Ship of Fools. The dilemma is that we are becoming so flabby intellectually that enough of us are still voting for people who we think act in our behalf, but are actually exploiting our foolishness. I think we should print a new images on the dollar bill, that of P.T. Barnum, the great American who said there is a sucker born every minute.

  33. Well said, Eddie. We constantly rail against the idiots in office, but we (the collective we) in our infinite stupidity, keep putting them there. I'm in my 60's and I can't ever remember another time in my life when our entire political system was so overrun with ignorance, greed and laziness as it is now. I don't want to give up hope, but I can't shake the notion that this is how democracies devolve.

  34. A romp and certainly fun -- thanks.

    Disagreement on the finale. Most Americans are bewildered at the state of their government, but befuddled as to what to do about it.

  35. We elect with a frightening frequency people to either house of Congress who either cannot or will not think for themselves. Dr. Randall Paul is just one of many examples. We have to accept that a majority of the voters in Kentucky wanted him to represent them. We can ask just what values were they hoping he would promote.

    More taxes for poor people? Diminished support for poor people?

    Diminished taxes for rich people? Increased support for rich people?

    I thought he was a Libertarian oriented TEA Party dude. Since my other questions would be considered rude by the Dude, I’ll refrain from asking them. For now.

  36. Rand Paul or anyone who is anti-federal government can and will get support in states like Kentucky mainly because of biased narratives replacing rational thought in local politics. Voices of reason need to step up their game in such cases.

  37. He is one of the few office holders who takes the national debt, which exceeds 100% of GDP, seriously. He is one of the few who takes the droning of innocents and children (yes, over 350 killed by American drones) seriously. He is one of the few who expresses concern about overreaching war powers, about the growing surveillance state, about the vicious and destructive war on drugs. Crazy salad? Spoken like a person so immersed in the "sanity" of business-as-usual America that he has lost his sense of where the real insanity lies.

  38. He asks the right questions, starting discussions that otherwise do not take place, but the answers are absurd even as compared with the absurdity of our politics these days.

  39. "He is one of the few office holders who takes the national debt, which exceeds 100% of GDP, seriously."

    What are we to make of this statement? That it is obvious that the debt is so large as to be a serious problem? BUT no reasons, facts, history or references are given. Well, let's look at history.

    Have there ever been a time when debt has seriously impacted our economy? Yes, but not when it was too high, but when it was too low. We paid off the debt once in our history and that was followed by the longest depression we ever had. In fact, EVERY depression we ever had was preceded by a period of balanced budgets, paying down the debt.

    Well, what happened when the debt was this high? In 1946, the public debt was 109% of GDP and the gross debt was 121% of GDP compared to about 72% and 101% today. Did the sky fall? In fact, we followed 1946 by 27 years of mostly deficit spending. At the end of this period we had doubled the debt in dollars. It doesn't seem we took the debt seriously then.

    What happened? I'll tell you what happened. Prosperity happened. For example, real median household income surged 74%. And at the end of the period, public debt was 24% of GDP and gross debt was 32%.

    If jrd would deign to give us the reasoning behind his fear of the debt, perhaps we could have a discussion. Is it because he fears a rapid rise in interest rates which has been predicted for the last few years? Does he think that public borrowing is crowding our private borrowing? What?

  40. He's also against raising revenue to help reduce the debt. He questions the validity of Civil Rights laws. He rails about the Americans with Disabilities act. He is certain of the conspiracy of the Federal Reserves and wants to go back to the "Gold Standard." He pushes isolationism in an ever more intertwined world. And on and on. Although even a broken clock is right twice a day, it's still a broken clock.

  41. The problems facing the GOP were illustrated all too sweetly at the recent CPAC convention.To be fair, CPAC is not affiliated with the Republican party - at least not officially. But let's be honest; we all know whose bread they are buttering. The interesting thing about the entire debacle is that it seems they didn't even attempt to get their stories straight when they charged into this thing. This was emphasized by the speeches made by Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. According to Rand, the GOP has got to move further to the right. That's not what Marco thinks. According to him the party is fine 'n' dandy just the way it is, thank you very much. The whole affair was quite amusing.

    The highlight of the weekend was Mitt Romney pleading with the Republicans to learn from his mistakes. My guess is that they turned a deaf ear toward him. I can see it now. When this party attempts to "moderate" itself, it will disintegrate into a million pieces. What we have here is the nucleus of the ideological thunderclap that could easily destroy and extinct the Republicans in a matter of a few years.

    I cannot wait for 2016. I'm giddy with anticipation.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  42. Be careful what you wish for.

  43. So Sen. Rand Paul is a bird, fluttering above us, lighting upon one Libertarian/Conservative stand and fluttering off to another issue. We need to keep our binoculars handy to keep an eye on his ascent to the national political stage. He may well be the next standard bearer for those who prefer the Constitution as it was written. His defense of the Second amendment is enough to win elections for many people. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed. If he also came out against limits of what defines marriage, or reduce our financing of foreign powers who don't align with our own beliefs, there would be little to keep him from the national stage in the next election cycle for President.

  44. Given the demographics of the country, and that women and minorities don't prefer the Constitution as originally written (which seems to be Paul's true philosophy), I wouldn't be backing the moving van up the White House just yet.

  45. The idea that the GOP lacks only a candidate who supports gay marriage is just 100% off base; such a candidate would be a RINO and not get any support from the Tea Partiers or Evangelicals. Who exactly would vote for someone like that? Look at what happened to Romney: he was a moderate by most reasonable standards, and yet the Evangelical base did NOT support him, and he lost by 2% of the popular vote.

    More likely what the Republicans want and need (though I don't see any such person at the present time) is another Reagan -- a dynamic, good-looking individual with exceptional public speaking skills, who is pretty hard-core right-wing.

    Now, the lefty liberals will automatically see that person as "Satan", but in fact, they also saw Reagan as Satan. Just go back to 1980 and read any editorials about Mr. Reagan from that campaign by the left-wingers; they thought they had to move to Canada. Funnily enough, today the lefty likes to say that Reagan "really wasn't that bad". Time is an amazing tool for forgetfulness.

  46. The Constitution as it was written? Then you favor reinstituting slavery and keeping women from voting (for starters)?

  47. There is a strong steak of libertarianism across all political spectrums. If Rand Paul came out with consistent positions in favor of personal and private rights he could very well win.

    He would need to tie in reproductive rights, gun owner rights, marijuana rights, non discrimination in marriage rights, personal over corporate rights, populist over big money rights, and the most basic rights to be left alone by the government. Yes, this includes light bulb rights, toilet rights, and the right to spend all your money on gas guzzling cars and thousands of rounds of ammo, if you want.

    Rather than decry such items as toilet rights, why not look into why this is such an issue with many people?

    Rand Paul will lose, however, if he does not acknowledge and support the positions that people want collective societal action in some areas, like health care, where his father failed so badly.

  48. As another commentor wrote, I and many others support Rand Paul's anti drone stance, limitations onPresidential war making powers, 4th amendment rights, and his generally more isolationist positions.

  49. Let us not overlook the fact that neither of the Pauls are pro choice regarding abortion. And is Rand a friend of gay marriage? If so he is a late convert, I doubt if many gays or their friends and families will be fooled.

  50. Your impressions of Paul are a principled delusion, that's what this article is about! In fact this guy has sponsored a fetal personhood amendment! That is indeed crazy!

    Less military, sure. Even a blind political squirrel finds a policy nut once in a while.

  51. Senators from small population states have an inordinate influence on national affairs.

    As with gerrymander mischief in the house, this is crippling government action on important matters like climate change, infrastructure, and jobs.

  52. You're right. Small population states (like my home state KY) get to exert undue influence in federal gov as a trade off for federal authority. The federal gov allows for a single cohesive national market. In turn metropolises like NYC have a much wider range for their economic predation. I'm the first to criticize middle America's reactionary politics. But let's be real. The wealthy blue states are no more interested in the national welfare than anyone else. I don't trust Chuck Schumer anymore than I trust Rand Paul.

  53. Unfortunately, I don't think we are going to undo 100+ years of self-adulation about our great and glorious system of government, and our founding fathers men of such infallible prescience. We are not about to change our system any sooner than the Soviets were willing to change theirs.

  54. Cohen ignores the number of small state legislators which combine to block essential progress. It's the tyranny of the minority in terms of population.

  55. Libertarianism is a funny lot. Let's see. For argument's sake: If Libertarians succeed in their fight to use seat belts at their discretion, don't I have the right to fight for the hospitals not to treat the injuries Libertarians might suffer in an accident as a result of their ideological success? It is like those individuals that rail against "government handouts" but gladly extend their hands to receive monies in compensation for Sandy's devastation. Like that hilarious Teapublican banner: "Government, hands off my Medicare." I amend, Libertarian, and Teapublicans, are a hypocritical lot.

  56. Republicans are full of contradictions, and Libertarians even more so. What they don't seem to grasp is that other people's stupid behavior, like say the freedom not to wear a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet, costs the rest of us money. Those are only 2 small examples. No man is an island, certainly not in this country.

  57. Actually, I think people are getting that banner wrong. Tea Party members know their Medicare comes from the government. They don't want the government to do anything to their Medicare. Junk Medicare for future generations, sure. Take it away from the underserving, fine. Just make sure that money goes to pay their medical bills.
    The Tea Party is one of the most openly selfish (and self-serving) political movements I've ever come across.

  58. @Ginger Walters: "What they don't seem to grasp is that other people's stupid behavior, like say the freedom not to wear a seatbelt or motorcycle helmet, costs the rest of us money" Oh, I think they get it exactly. Keep following them down their dark ideological path and you wind up at their position that "the rest of us" shouldn't have to pay for others, espsecially though taxes, but even through private insurance pools. Remember the cheering at the GOP presidential debate when Paul's dad was asked what should happen to a 30 year old in an ER who has no money and someone yelled out "Let him die!", to the applause and hooting of the others in the audience. Libertarians know that no man is an island in the US right now, but their goal is to make it so. That's their definition of "freedom".

  59. The writer of the column omits the fact that most libertarians are in favor of keeping Government out of the bedroom and out of foreign entanglements, out of the business of killing and out of ruling on what people can smoke or ingest, out of the business of deciding who can stay here and who must be forced out. Taking a high percentage of national income away from individuals and families in taxes in order to provide services to the general population is taken very skeptically by all libertarians -- Government removes the value of property from some citizens in order to take credit for recycling that property value to other citizens, while coincidentally adding to the number of people who owe their Government jobs (IRS employees, Medicare service paperwork managers, for example) to the recycling mechanism.

    Rand Paul's opinions on policy are highly consistent with the libertarian ethos, and I'm sure he hopes other Americans will enthusiastically share that ethos. In that sense, his running for President is just running to attract votes to his beliefs.

    The columnist here seems to assume that all politics is, and should be, about espousing policies that are already popular, so that running for President should be about making cynical decisions about what policies to support in order to conform the candidate's public image to the right combination of prejudices already in place in the public's mind. A little philosophical consistency is hardly "loopy", I think.

    Mitchell

  60. Mitchell said: "Taking a high percentage of national income away from individuals and families in taxes in order to provide services to the general population is taken very skeptically by all libertarians." This sounds very much like the libertarian/right-wing Republican talking point about "wealth redistribution" implying that the wealth of the rich is being redistributed to the middle class and the poor. Have you seen the recent statistics? Just the opposite is true. The very rich (the 2%) now control the vast amount of the wealth in this country, and it gets worse each year. Wealth has been redistributed for sure but to the wealthy not from them. Is fairness not part of a libertarian's vocabulary?

  61. Rand Paul also wants to liquidate Social Security, Medicare, the Department of Education, the tax system, etc. items which this writer conveniently fails to mention and which is totally repudiated by the less philosophically astute. This neo-Darwinist may be philosophically consistent but morally repugnant, in my eyes and in the eyes of the vast majority of people in this country.

  62. "most libertarians are in favor of keeping Government out of the bedroom"

    Then Rand Paul is an outlier among libertarians because he is anti-choice and anti-marriage equality. And hardly consistent.

  63. "His distaste for government is so deep you wonder how he can bear to work there."

    This is the essence of the Republican Party, pure and simple. Of course, the very "Whiskey Rebellion" Americans who vote these clowns into office--"Down with government!"--are the ones most benefitting from government's largesse. This contradictory and unsavory dynamic of the American democratic experiment has its roots in irrational Bible-thumping ignorance--the very antithesis of the Enlightenment principles that grounded this republic in the first place--and it has sown the seeds of its descent into Third World plutocracy. The ironic twist in this history is that this enlightened republic fell because of its own self-willed decline into feeble idiocy.

  64. Does Sen. Paul's distaste for government extend to the back-door governments? The ALECs and other corporate-backed, pseudo "Policy" organizations?

    Will he pay proper homage to the individuals behind these groups in order to win their endorsements?

    Has he made any public statements about how their influence ($$) is quietly but profoundly shaping policy, and that it MUST stop?

  65. Rand Paul is a prime example of the problems facing the Republicans. Last election the Republicans went against one of the laws of science; for every action there is a reaction. When the GOP wooed members of the Tea Party, members of the more moderate party wing became disenchanted. The party gained far right conservatives and lost much of their moderate base.

    Moderates felt alienated as the Tea Party and other far right contingents became more vocal and prominent. The seeds of this disappointment began in 2008 as a desperate presidential candidate, John McCain, selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. It was obvious she was not qualified as McCain kept her in hiding for over a month after her nomination.

    Over this past week the Republicans did a good job of identifying why they lost so badly in 2012. In 1858 Abraham Lincoln made the following statement referring to slavery, "A house divided against itself cannot stand". This is also true of a political party. A party needs core values and therefore if they are to be successful they must define themselves as either staunch conservatives or a conservative-leaning moderate party. They cannot be both and win. They must choose and they are just beginning this process.

    Below is an article written in June 2011 on the blog "Free Free Markets" describing the feelings of one such frustrated moderate.... http://bit.ly/FF1129ffm

  66. My calendar says 2013. Every Republican office holder will have a moment or two as a possible front runner between now and 2016. The potential candidates benefit from the publicity, and some of them may use it to further some of their goals. Most of them will fade from view and memory like coming attractions before the feature film.

  67. What scares me is who they might have waiting in the wings, what fire breathing dragon will they trot out on stage like a new King Kong, to intimidate, amaze and stupefy us? How deep into the barrel of monkeys will they have to reach to go one better than Palin, Bachmann, Cruz, etc? I fear it's a very big barrel and we have yet to see it's darkest depths.

  68. Rand Paul opposes the right of women to have safe and legal abortions. He opposes the right of gay people to marry. He says he would not have voted for the 1965 Civil Rights Act. He has opposed Social Security. Rand Paul won't be getting my vote if he runs for president. But he has my support when he introduces legislation with Senator Leahy to reform drug sentencing guidelines, and when he questions whether adults should be put in jail for violating drug laws.

    Two-thirds of Americans now support letting states decide whether to legalize medical marijuana. Majorities in critical swing states have voted to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, a far more dangerous drug. Democratic legislators should respond by supporting federal and state legislation to end the war against marijuana users, medical and recreational.

    440,000 New Yorkers, and millions nationally, were arrested for marijuana possession in the last ten years, yet most Republican legislators and many Democratic legislators support the status quo or they don't lift a finger to change it. Rand Paul defeated a pro-drug war Democrat when he ran for the Senate. Let that be a warning - if Democrats fail to lead on this issue, many voters will seek alternatives in the coming mid-term and 2016.

  69. drugs are a low-priority issue and a luxury some democrats can ill afford. in my state, i'm having a hard time just dealing with the governor's authority to nullify my vote in favor of appointing an emergency manager of his choice. he has also signed in effect laws limiting abortions and collective bargaining and made michigan a right to work state. they are also considering changing the electoral college. so democrats in some states have basic survival issues to deal with first before they can contend with the legalization of drugs.

    furthermore, i don't see a mass defection to the republicans over the drug issue. it's that cut off your nose to spite your face thing.

  70. Good points. I do give the Libertarians credit for being on the vanguard of the legal pot movement. "fs' is 100% correct here in asserting that Democrats better quickly get up to speed on this issue. Another Libertarian, and former presidential candidate, Gary Johnson(former governor of New Mexico), made legal pot a major plank in his campaign. He was not allowed into the primary debates.

    The tide is quickly turning in pot debate. Criminalizing people for using a drug infinitely safer than the legal hard drug alcohol is now seen by many as a human rights issue. Steve Jobs was a pot smoker, and I don't recall anyone calling him a slacker - or Bob Dylan, or Willie Nelson, or President Obama, or Lady Gaga, or Bill Maher.

  71. Rand Paul is against the government being involved with a person's life - except of course women's bodies where the state should make all the decisions for her. This hypocrisy has been pointed out many times, in many ways, by many people but it can't be said enough.

    Now he has a budget that not only dismisses women but also expects Americans to deal with old age entirely on their own, and anyone with a health issue needs to heal him/herself, and he will privatize whatever he can, etc. Obviously if one is not a part of the 1%, Rand Paul thinks it is the person's own fault and the government should not be in the business of helping or supporting.

    He is not only outspoken and arrogant, he lacks normal human compassion.

  72. Frank does well to fear and loathe Sens. Paul, Cruz, and Dr. Ben Carson, as one of them is quite likely to be running the country before too long. As they each actually love the U.S., it will be quite a change in the media-White House relationship from what it is now.

    Just imagine: reporters will actually have the chance to ask a President hard - even pointed! - questions and still expect to be invited to the best parties! I am sure that whichever lover of the Constitution gets there first, the NY Times will have as its primary goal making sure he ends up as a one-term President.

  73. Wow. More fantasies from inside the bubble. I guess you could say that somehow a majority of Americans could be convinced to vote against their own interests((G.W. Bush did elected twice), but I wouldn't bet any money on it. Due to horrid candidates worshiping at the feet of the 1%, the rudderless Republican party is now drifting in a Libertarian direction. Unfortunately for them, the better informed American electorate is moving in the other direction.

  74. Let me remind Frank, that republican candidates usually only grant interviews to Fox News, so where would tough pointed questions be sourced?

  75. Senator Cruz is ineligible run the country. He was born in Canada. The rest of your post is equally fact-challenged.

  76. As I continue to think ahead towards our next Presidential race (did the Republican debates start yet?), and even considering Rand Paul as a possible Republican candidate, I shiver. I guess that's what Democracy is all about though. Any wing nut, no matter how far out their ideas, is free to stand in front of a crowd and claim themselves the Messiah. For a party that has gotten trounced repeatedly, they seem to keep shooting themselves in the foot. Witness possibly the best candidate they had in the primaries last round - Jon Huntsman. The one man who was most likely to appeal across a broad spectrum of national voters. Experienced in foreign policy. Governor of a large state. Successful businessman. He wasn't, what, conservative enough, wacko enough, outrageous enough? Until Republicans start producing candidates that are more moderate, and the party gets serious about governing rather than winning, this ex-Republican won't be pulling any of their levers soon and I doubt many other Independents will. But they just don't seem to get it. They are more interested in repackaging their message than changing the message to reflect the world today.

  77. The GOP did nominate a moderate businessman-governor in 2012. Then they forced him so far to the right that he lost all his moderation.

  78. Huntsman worked for the American people as ambassador to China but because he said 'yes' to Obama, the wing nuts said 'no' to him. That was their whole case against him. The hatred of Obama knows no bounds.

  79. Please don't insult the loons.
    Having said that, how quickly you forget those running in the republican primary for President. Trump, Gingwich, the pizza guy, michelle, They all rose to the top of the party and then dropped just as quickly.
    The tea party people are angry and afraid of the sudden changes in this country, gay marriage, the state of the economy, the decreasing of the white middle class, etc. The republicans do indeed have a primary challenge. It will be interesting to see where it goes. For sure the demographics of the country are not going to change and in a few years those angry old white men will be in the real minority. And that is the Republican's fear.

  80. rand paul's swift rise to prominance has more to do with president obama than some widespread appeal of his political ideology. i think a large portion of the republican base is willing to accept any message as long as its content is highly critical of obama's character or his legitimacy to hold office. to them, he is the physical embodiment of all that they despise about democrats specifically, and people that are different from them, in general.

    once the games begin for the 2016 election cycle, the attention will be placed on the new democratic presidential hopeful and maybe the vitriol won't be as thick as it is now. there were a lot of comets streaking across the sky during the republican primaries of 2012 that have since crashed and burned. i anticipate that rand paul is the flavor of the week and in due time, someone else will step into the limelight with a message more stringent, severe and impractical.

    looking at what the republican party is serving up as potential candidates for 2016, none of them have the demeanor, the statemanship or the wisdom to lead this complex nation of competing demographics. based on their leadership in congress, their disdain for government and their intolerance for differences make them a party ill suited to make compromises and compassionate decisions that will heal our nation after this latest election cycle.

    i'm hoping that in 2017 people will say "what happened to that man called, you know, andy rand or paul ryan or something".

  81. The GOP's problem is that they have had to play this bizarre con game of political Twister. A game where they put their hand now on this circle which represents vocal support of some kind of social repression, to reassure the workies who support them against their interests that it's gonna be OK when they're reelected. While their foot rests squarely on the circle of supporting the multinationals and plutocrats who are raping the country every day of their amoral existence by not paying for the regulatory apparatus and military machine both of which enable their disproportionate agglomeration of money. So no wonder there's a strain here. Good thing Daddy's a doctor or else...

  82. Rand Paul does a good job of outing politicians. He recently offered two amendments. One amendment would have prevented President Obama from giving away twenty F-16s and fifty tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt as part of a $1.6B foreign aid package. Speaking of wacko, Mr. Bruni referred to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt as a key ally. Every Democratic Senator and twenty-two Republican senators voted against that amendment.

    Another amendment offered by Sen. Paul would have diverted some foreign aid money to be instead spent on US infrastructure. Again, every Democratic senator and about half the Republican Senators voted against that amendment.

    We should appreciate the Job Rand Paul is doing outing politicians and even people posting here who support drone killings of US citizens on US soil, the Muslim Brotherhood, and who also prioritize foreign aid over US infrastructure.

  83. The sorry Republican Party has always been home to those with simple solutions to serious problems. An uniformed base is the problem that they can't change.
    Unfortunately for America, our granting overrepresentation to rural and small states insures that they will remain as a major party while a minority of Americans.

  84. We have here another Republican leader who claims to be of and for the middle class.
    I am reminded of FDR, who was also so representative of his class.
    I believe that FDR had more class.

  85. If the Bush family is any example, though Rand appears to be the one who is being groomed for the Presidency, his brother Rue will eventually get the nomination

  86. The "evolving" of strongly held principles into "new thinking" seem to be nothing more than the convenient accommodation of self interest.

    To see this whining man relish his 15 minutes of infamy, is to view a rabid manipulation for power & explains the self serving tweaking of his innate obstructionism.

  87. I am a little left of Obama and pray, really pray the GOP keeps foisting the
    Rand and Cruz types, as I was their having to settle for MItt. But it is too
    easy to defeat them and means we don't have a viable national discussion,
    just media hyped foolishness. I am happy that Obama is the statesman that
    he is, patient to the point of frustrating those more progressively liberal.

  88. I remember when mainstream pundits considered Reagan unelectable. Or Republicans thought Obama would be a gift to them, as a totally unelectable Democratic nominee, compared to Hillary Clinton. I guess they were all wrong. Both the left leaning and right leaning mainstream media / establishment often fails to imagine what the American people will actually do in an election.

  89. I still do not understand the people who believe that government is the root of all evil and who then will spend years trying to become the leader of said government.

    Have never figured that one out.

  90. They get elected just so they can go on to prove themselves right by having the worst administrations.

  91. They just want to replace it with their own form of government.

  92. One of those mysteries you know.

  93. Isn't this just par for the course when it comes to Republicans, the zanier they are, the more attention they get, and the more their base likes them? It never ends. Even the ones mentioned who are supposed to be more "moderate", whatever that means in Republican world these days, are not much better then the really loopy ones, like Rand, Bachmann, Cruz, and a host of others.

  94. Dear Mr.Bruni, The G.O.P. seems to have it's fill of people not afraid to speak their minds,no matter how absurd these politicians seem. The mere fact that Mr.Paul was elected indicates that his message is resonating with someone;is it the case that he, and the others like him,are actually ardent in their beliefs versus the usual party hacks that abound on both sides of the aisle? Perhaps his viewpoint,to him,is what is needed to turn the country around and he pursues his views with a vigor upsetting to someone like Mr.Boehner. I re-call a Democratic candidate who echoed policies of fairness and change though not quite as radical as Mr.Rand;President Obama. I can only hope in his second term,he becomes the man he was in 2008. Politics in this country seems to destroy what is noble and just in most who attain election;the two party system appears to be stultifying, rewarding the "good old boy" attitude with the country suffering for lack of competent leaders as a result. 2014 will be very interesting.

  95. As with the tea party types, you confuse campaigning with governing. Of course President Obama is not he of 2008. And I can only hope that if Rand Paul were elected president he too would not be the same governing as campaigning.

  96. The recent ascendance of Rand Paul is only a glaring indicator of the vacuity of leadership in the Republican party today. It is is amazing to see how detached from reality these people are. Just this past fall, Mitt Romney and his crowd were walking pretty tall - confident that that they were about to blow the Obama regime right out of the water. Romney was so blinded by his own bubble that he didn't even prepare a concession speech. The election night Karl Rove meltdown on Fox News brought back memories of "Baghdad Bob" - and essentially was a gourmet dessert after wonderful meal for the rest of us. That Sarah Palin was actually a featured speaker at their recent CPAC gathering shows how little they have learned. The American people have soundly rejected their ideas twice in a row. Rand Paul has wisely worn a more moderate suit lately, but as Frank Bruni correctly points out, his many lunatic ideas will surely torpedo any presidential dreams. I hope they nominate him next time.

  97. While I hardly agree with Sen. Paul on much, a somewhat less-hypocritical libertarian would provide a refreshing alternative to the low-information, right-wing reactionaries.

    We shouldn't be putting people in jail for using drugs. We shouldn't be regulating people's private, social behavior. We shouldn't engage in military adventurism overseas. We shouldn't be wasting billions and trillions on a ludicrous "Defense" Department. And we certainly should not be killing people via drones, risking the attendant "collateral damage."

    These libertarian views could help resurrect a moribund, idea-bereft GOP, if they're smart enough to pick up on them. Paul grabbed what should have been the liberal's position regarding drones, and good for him in doing so. Now, liberals should grab the rest of the story: that foreign lives are valuable too, and that indiscriminate drone killings anywhere (even when involving a "legitimate" target) are immoral AND bad foreign policy.

  98. It's been interesting to read some of the columnists and many of the comments attached to columns in the Times since President Obama's re-election. The amount of name calling for anyone who disagrees with predominantly liberal, and sometimes far leftist, views is quite amazing for someone whose been reading the Times for decades.

    I suppose it's been pent up since Reagan, and certainly since Limbaugh began equating liberalism with communism and fascism. And I always thought that someday an equally powerful alternative to Fox News would arise from the other end of the political spectrum. I just never thought it would be this formerly august publication.

  99. I would have to disagree with you. The level and shrillness of name calling, intolerance and outright delusional paranoia displayed by far-right commenters in the Wall Street Journal far outshines most comments I've read on this website. The NYT at least has won Pulitzers for their reporting. What awards has the WSJ won?

  100. I will defend the vast majority of the people who submit comments to the NY Times. Particularly for the regulars but also for many of the less frequent contributors I find the intellectual nature and the quality of the writing to be refreshing, informative, often fun, and in a decent number of instances, the equal of the op-ed piece to which they respond.

    I also regularly read the op-ed pieces from the Washington Post and some of the comments. From time to time, the LA Times and others too. There is simply no comparison. Despite some quality comments to these others, I would liken the NYTimes comments to a good graduate school seminar, and the forums on the others to that verbal food fight in the dining hall.

  101. The sad thing is that most NY Times readers still believe they are not guilty of holding racist, sexist and biased opinions despite the fact that they frequently disparage people based on race and gender. The bias they express toward Christians would never be expressed toward other religions.

    If it weren't so said it would be comical how much they have become the very people they impugn. I have to believe that if they could see their own biases the way others see them, they'd be horrified.

  102. It's no mystery. The GOP has no bench. Want proof? Look at the last 13 Presidential hopefuls and Bush-Cheney.

    Want more proof? Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Dick Armey, David Keene, Jim DeMint, Ralph Reed, Thomas Donahue, Mitch McConnell, Roger Ailes and Haley Barbour. Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk-radio and TV-show hosts, Hannity and O'Reilly evening diatribes, Palin, Paul, Rubio, Coulter, Bachmann, Cruz, Norquist, Bopp, and the great dark prince Newt Gingrich.

    Collectively these men and women have built a conservative alternate universe that their acolytes live within. It has been done with intent and precision. It is a dark force.

    It operates by appealing to human nature and repeatedly stroking the emotions of its targets. It's a complex enterprise that is now a propaganda effort greater than what happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945. It began with Nixon.

    It's the only way the GOP knows how to operate. Its leaders ignore that there is a large political center and as a strategy they seek to create a divide in our country and drive the GOP propaganda engine to do this. Its apostles claim the liberal or left-wing media do not give fair time to the conservative right.

    There is a reason for this. When you comp the output of the GOP propaganda engine and each spokesperson’s statements and credentials, one does not find caliber, character, or fact-based reasoning. There is only one-sided artfully-constructed discourse intended for a disparate coalition.

  103. Gee Ken, what an impressive list of names. Can I have a turn.

    Let's first start with criminal Democrats. We first start off with Rod Blagojevich, Jesse Jackson Jr., William Jefferson, Jim Traficant, Frank Ballance, Mel Reynolds, Walter Tucker, Mario Biaggi, Kwame Kilpatrick and Marion Barry, et al.

    Then of course, we move on to politicans that live in subsidized housing like Charlie Rangel.

    Or we could talk about the two states, California and Illinois, with the lowest credit ratings in the nation -- Democrat dominated of course. Or bankrupt Detroit (to soon be followed by Los Angeles) -- Democrat led.

    You want to criticize the Republicans -- go ahead -- it's a free country (at least for a litle while longer).

    But both parties at their core are in the pockets of the rich (for Republicans its oil, for Democrats it's Hollywood, they both feast on Wall Street.)

    Someone like Rand Paul might be able to rise above the stench of both parties -- that's the hope and change we need.

  104. The brain washing provided by conservative talk radio and TV has always amazed me. They tell their dido head fans that the liberals want to raise THEIR taxes even when almost all their listeners don't make over $ 250000, and they are some how believed. The rich don't listen to them. They don't have to since they are funding the lies.

  105. So we have Senator Obama, a do-nothing one-term Senator with the most liberal voting record, rise from nowhere to become President.

    And yet, the Left dismisses Senator Rand with their socialist broom because he approaches "hope and change" from a libertarian perspective.

    I would not be so quick to dismiss candidates with an alternative view.

  106. Again, the trite, false equivalence argument. I have to conclude it is the last resort for tea party types that do not have the capacity for critical thought.

  107. I'm a gay man. I don't see any "hope and change" coming from Mr. Paul or the libertarians. There is a reason most libertarians are Republican: their base philosophy is the same. Rights are only important if they are directly affected. Everyone else are just a bunch of whiners.

  108. Precisely what scares me

  109. The Republican party has been "out-Foxed. In order to generate ratings "news" organizations must have controversy. Thus it gives a platform to more and more right wing nuts. (Of course Fox is not a news channel.) That drives the republican party ever more to the right.)

  110. There is much to be admired in Libertarian philosophy. I think that many of us on the progressive side have ideas in common with libertarians, especially when it comes to personal freedoms, a distaste for a government bloated with special perks for special interests, a distaste for war, and a fear of a militarist state.

    But the problem with the libertarians is that they don't know when to stop. They think that if less government is good, then no government is better. This is not a rational view, it is a faith, a belief system. A belief that is easy to embrace when sitting in a comfortable dorm room (with mom and dad footing the bill) or a convention hall (surrounded by a functioning society with security, airports, and nice restaurants). But, it is a belief that would quickly crumble if it were to become a reality.

  111. To admire from afar does not is not necessarily require imitation.

    mab

  112. I understand your concern. You believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, government can be an instrument of benefit to humanity. I'd like to think you're right. I pray you're right.

    Ron Paul is of the generation of physicians who worked in charity hospitals during training, who provided free care to indigents throughout long careers, and who knew the private practice of medicine was doomed as soon as Medicare came around. Now Obamacare is... Ah, well, the USA was a great country, once, when people took care of people. Now, for the majority of Americans, the government is mother and father, the distributor and re-distributor. You didn't make your money; the government made it (out of thin air! No wonder so many worship Big Guv!) and allows you to keep it-- or not-- as It sees fit.

    My hope is that Rand Paul, or some future regime, before it is too late, will reign in Big Guv, put it on a diet, start exercising it in an effective way, and finally morph it into a more benevolent, less militaristic, avuncular version of Uncle Sam. My hope is that we'll be able to see Big Guv turned into an effective humanitarian tool. That you'll be right, in other words.

    What we have now is one big nasty malignancy of a government, growing and metastasizing and killing our society. If we can't reign this in, our kids' lives will be filled with all the hope and change cancer cachexia can offer.

  113. Every libertarian I encounter who rails against "too much government" I invite to move to Somalia. No government at all there. It's a libertarian paradise.

  114. For all his bluster, Rand Paul accepted Medicare and Medicaid payments. He opposed cutting payments to physicians and conversely remarked that Medicare and Medicaid funds were "stolen money". I guess some folks can have it both ways.

  115. Rather like Paul Ryan wanting to gut Social Security when it funded his way through college.

  116. If Paul has accepted "stolen" money, perhaps the district attorney should be notified.

  117. Desperate times call for desperate deeds, and embracing Rand Paul as the potential presidential front-runner for an election that's - believe it or not - still 3-1/2 years away shows very clearly how confused and desperate Today's Republican Party is. I hope that the ghost of the Romney campaign continues to haunt them for years to come.

  118. Four years ago, America seemed to be on a collision course with one Sarah Palin.
    Thank goodness we sidestepped that calamity.
    Randy Paul is the flavor of the moment - the after taste will push the Elephants toward some more palatable flavors. They have still to sample some tasty treats like Christie, Huntsman, Jebediah Bush, and the thirsty sweaty guy from Florida.
    My soul yearns for a Christie vs Hillary mud wrestling match for the 2016 crown.

  119. Ever since 911, the US government, under 2 administrations has spent the last 12 years inventing ever newer and ever more pervasive theories of government power.

    Ever since MSNBC (founded and owned by GE and Microsoft) fired Phil Donahue for asking too many questions about WMD, the job of the media in this country has been to cheerlead for ever more pervasive adherence to perpetual war, so companies like GE and Microsoft can make more profit.

    When Republicans were in power, the Democrats were rightfully but with ever more vitriol and apoplexy trying to show themselves as opponents of mass secrecy, executive power abuses and the destruction of due process.

    But now that their leader has taken the abuses of George Bush and exponentially multiplied the stakes, they are quietly acquiescent. Their leadership now maintains that it is acceptable for the government to kill Americans on American soil with no hint of due process; a right not claimed since before the Magna Carta.

    When anyone steps out of line, as Rand Paul did with his filibuster, it puts the Dems in a very uncomfortable position and the only response they have is to attack the intelligence and sanity of anyone who takes such a principled stand.

    Speaking as a left wing independent, I find it distasteful to align myself with a right wing ideologue, but in this case I have no choice but to call out this article as more propaganda in support of unchecked government autocracy.

  120. If SCOTUS is taking on affirmative action and may rule in favor of there no longer being voting rights, can some group please please please in turn bring forth a case against this absurd small state and big state having equal rights. The electoral college is the biggest affirmative action program. The days of not getting information to the small outskirts ended when they all tuned into here comes honey boo boo and ice truckers. It is crazy to think that they do not have access and therefore are not represented -- they just have whacked out views of their role in society. No government unless it subsides your entire state. They can certainly take a quick trip to Washington to control their interest in government sponsored ranching, farming, drug, etc so enough with equating Wyoming with California. It is completely outdated and VERY un American. The majority of Americans voted for democrats and now will be held back once again by these states that lincoln should have said bye-bye to long ago.
    Explain to me how giving billions of dollars to Texas and have them shake on it one day and rally against it the next with a hugely religious backdrop is and different than our relations with Saudi Arabia.

  121. Lynne,

    It is very simple. The great compromise to have a USA was to give all States regardless of size equal representation in the Senate. Further, no State can be denied this equal representation without its permission. This idea that we are a Democracy with one person one vote is a myth. We are a Republic with fifty States as political entities with equal voting power in the Senate regardless of population numbers.

  122. I ave much empathy for your thoughts Lynne, yet I, for one, am reluctant to dispense with the Electoral College. I can't give a specific reason but perhaps it is like my reluctance to embrace term limits or the call by some to "vote all the bums out".

    Clarion calls for rapid, radical change in order to bring about some brave new world too often have distopic results

  123. It's time to stop blaming the loopy elected officials. They didn't change their tune - they were elected due to their loopiness by 25% of the electorate that shares those beliefs. The GOP is in a quandary. They need those 25% to get to 50% but each election cycle far fewer of the other 75% agree with them or at least tolerate them.

  124. Well, Frank Bruni informs me of a factoid I did not know, that Rand Paul is an opththalmologist. How many elderly people on Medicare see ophthalmologists for cataract surgery? All of them. Not that there aren't enough eye MDs to go around, but MDs take an oath that includes the words of Socrates, "first, do no harm"...hence the Socratic Oath, thousands of years old. Personally, I think it needs a bit of revision., especially the part about never giving poison to the ill. Chemotherapy is poison for vulnerable malignant cells. Sad to say, some survive the poison, and multiply by the millions, and they return and kill.

    I ergo assume that Dr. Rand Paul, son of doctor Ron Paul, is planning on quitting medicine and making a living enriching himself in government. Doctors tend to have higher than average IQs, and some of them think that they can cure what ails society, as does Rand himself. But when I see him orating, on the tube, he sounds like a kid hell-bent on massive population reduction by proposing the repeal of all the socialist programs America has adopted at least since FDR.

    No more Medicare, Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, the new Consumer Protection bill, no more helmet laws, seat belt laws, exhaustive background history clean of felony or mental illness before buyer gets his weapon(s) and ammunition.

    Gone these programs, which still comfort, if not cure, what ails our seniors. We will suffer the wrath of the desperate. Say, Dr. Paul, want a revolution?

  125. Sorry Sir?, Miss?
    Socrates, historic figure, is said to have spoken many serious discourses but not the one you mention. Sorry!
    It is Hypocrates, legenday person, to whom is attributed the famous dictum that Mds "should" swear, practice, protect and enforce in their professional activities.

  126. "Rand Paul is an opththalmologist. How many elderly people on Medicare see ophthalmologists for cataract surgery? All of them. "

    Kind of makes you wonder how much money he's made from the government-funded programs he now claims to dislike, doesn't it?

  127. Looniness* and wackoness* are the salient identifying features of the GoP today. I would once again like to post a link, showing Obama's margin of vistory over McCain in the election versus the educational level of the populace in the 50 states as measured a certian way:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/30/us/politics/keys-to-victor...

    Now of course, education doesn't gurantee immunity against becoming a loon, but it does help. And the correlation in the graphic is absolutely clear. Less education means more GOPerness. I find that the best explanation of almost any development in the politics of 2013 through is found when it is viewed through this lens. On issue after issue, the GOP today stands for less learning, less education, less information, less rationality, and greater ignorance, greater illogic, and greater stupefaction. Progressives are not going to get their way anytime soon.

    *note to NYT censors: these are Bruni's words, not mine, so please don't turf my comment.

  128. "...that make him an unhelpful mascot for his party."

    Great way to describe not only Rand Paul but all those other over-the-top, overblown "personalities" trying to elbow each other out of the GOP limelight. There are a lot of contenders to be the GOP mascot. See the array of photos on the CPAC website: http://conservative.org/cpac/2013/.

    Bruni's mascot metaphor is spot on, especially since the GOP no longer function as a political party but behaves like a sports team--mostly playing offense by being offensive, and doing its utmost to make sure the other team doesn't score any goals.

    Although representing themselves as politicians, the aspiring mascots for the GOP are clearly unconcerned with governing. They spend most of their time saying and doing lots of foolish nonsense to gin up their tea party-Fox News spectators, and they are as empty inside as any hollowed-out sports' mascot costume.

  129. We need to find a way to keep from getting wrapped around the axle by the political fringes and focus more on the mainstream where compromise and pragmatism are still possible. Eliminating gerrymandering in favor of algorithmically drawn competitive voting districts for state and federal office would be a good start.

  130. Rand Paul has zero chance of being elected anything outside of his old Kentucky home; exactly like his father who was unelectable outside of his Texas district. The nut never falls far from the tree.
    If ever the media or opposition go full tilt on Randy, his kookiness will be on full display. No hat, no cattle, just some cowboy boots and allegiance to the atheist "philosopher" and fiction writer, Ayn Rand. Good luck with that.

  131. As misguided as that is, I wish that was the only issue. They also want us to worship like they do, have sex like they do, accept the government not helping the average citizen, only the rich.

    You forget Koch provides their funding and anti-government to him means not regulations. Let us pollute, let us privatize, let us do whatever we want.

  132. If it's just about cutting federal spending and the size of the federal government, why all the support for DOMA and against marriage equality, not to mention that the first thing any Tea Party candidate does once he's in office is to attempt to restrict reproductive rights? If Tea Party members were the libertarians they claim to be, those things wouldn't even be on their agenda, let alone at the top of it. Forgive those of use who aren't part of The Movement if we see it as old Republican wine in new Tea Party bottles (cups?)

  133. This editorial is the perfect example of why people flocked to Ron Paul and are now attracted to his son Rand. The Paul´s engage real issues like why we send billions to allies overseas when our cities are falling apart or why we put people in jail for smoking plants. Do we really need a Federal government to tell us what to eat, drink, and smoke? But Mr. Bruni would rather brush it all off as "wacko bird"; you would think that someone who wrote for this paper could have a more eloquent vocabulary.

    What about the monetary system? Rand Paul makes real arguments against the Federal Reserve creating out of thin air 1 trillion dollars a year (about 6% of our GDP almost all of which winds up on banks balance sheets). But Mr Bruni stays away from that one. What about the Iraq war? How did that turn out? Dr. Paul and his son Rand were firm opponents of the war, unlike this paper. They believe we should only enter a war in extremis, but Mr. Bruni would rather discuss seat belt laws.

    History will be judge of who took up the key issues and who was the court jester.

  134. except he would allow our cities to fall apart anyway, along with everything else. no social security, medicare, public education, roads, bridges, clean water. if your next door neighbor wants to make a night club out of his house, then he can, or maybe a brothel/heavy metal band club. you do understand who Ayn Rand was, right? you can do anything you want to.....unless you're a woman of course.

  135. So long as he is not another connected Ivy Leauger colluding to robbing the country blind, he has my ear

  136. For a moment I was actually glad that Republicans had found a new rally point in Paul's libertarian streak. But now that you cast his ascent in the light and thru the lens of tea-party politics (e.g. 'primaried') I am no so certain I want the trend to continue. For what its worth Paul seems one of the most moderate of his party - which isn't saying much. But at this juncture I'm almost willing to take any change at all in order for compromise to flourish and something, anything at all, to get done in Washington.

  137. Rand Paul is one of a flourishing kind in world politics. He seems to be an outlier now only because most of his predecessors kept their mouths shut, voted as they were instructed, and went home to make noise for the local media. But now, in the digital age (post hoc, propter hoc?) many politicians have found their voices, just as many of their constituents have. And those voices are not pretty. But of such is the human race.

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Taliban, Pakistan, unsung Chechnya, a two-state Israel-Palestine (or not), a flag not flying as often as it used to do over City Hall in Belfast... And behind the widespread austerity in Europe, a gang of three, the Troika, unelected, not responsible to a single voter--except to major shareholders in their own stables... Would voting by the public actually make a difference?

    Democracy is indeed ugly. But it could get uglier. When Blue-dog Democrats hush up, and refuse to take on the likes of Bachman and Paul in the greatest deliberative chambers in the world, something stinks. Could it be money? We should be thankful that FB has not been bought off.

  138. I'm not a big fan of Paul, but Bruni's column only adds to this country's polarization.

    Used to be, politicians of different backgrounds and ideologies could find common cause across the aisle, and work toward common interest, despite how monumental their differences were in other areas. Today, on the right, compromise with the other side is tantamount to surrender, and on the left, apparently, the perfect has become the enemy of the good.

    Yes, some of Paul's views are straight from Krazytown. But on a lot of other issues, he makes a lot of sense (immigration, the drug war, privacy, and yes drones), and seems to be able to connect with different constituencies. Democrats would be wise to work with him in getting common interests passed.

  139. V - if you really believe that than you are rowing an empty boat yourself. No one wants to work with Paul - not even members of his own "party". He has shown time and time again that he is way out of the political mainstream, inhabiting a world that is not of this political planet.
    Like father, like son.

  140. Rand Paul is wacko but, not so for the President who considers allowing the poor, the wounded, the elderly and the sick pay for two criminal wars and the blatant theft of American wealth while the architects of such sins write books.Perfectly sane for our U.S. Attorney General to calmly explain that the banks own us. Somehow its not looney to loathe the unemployed and participate fully in relocating their jobs to foreign countries and dine with the men who make profits and pay NO taxes. Its leadership now to pump filthy oil from Canada instead of water which is the real crisis in our Midwest. Mainstream governing to let Big Pharma add billions to our healthcare woes and talk of cutting heath programs.
    Paul may be looney but in order of priority we have bigger offenders to consider.

  141. Just don't forget who started those two wars

  142. Every insulting indignity towards average working Americans you mention is fiercely protected by the republican party, of which Rand Paul is one. The GOP stands in the way of any progress whether they are in the majority or the minority and too many democrats as well.

    I wish the likes of the Sherrod Browns, the Russ Feingolds, the Bernie Sanders would get the coverage that Rand gets, but alas they do not, although they are the voices that speak for most of us who have no influence except for our vote. And the GOP is trying to remove that from us as well.

  143. Lots of name-calling here, and diatribe on how awful and lost the Republicans are. Not much defense of the other side, however - are y'all really that satisfied with your choices? Seems like we're all in the same sinking boat right now, and our decisions are unfortunately based on distractions not very relevant to our survival. Our ever-expanding government is taking over most of our decision-making at this point, which should be a concern for anyone spouting any political philosophy in this country. I'm hoping we can maintain personal choices on more things than just abortion, but our options seem to be dwindling via group-think. Point is, demonizing the opposition is destructive to democracy. Respect for divergent opinions, but defending the case for one's own is still guaranteed, and will move us all forward.

  144. You seem very upset that "our ever-expanding government is taking over most of our decision-making at this point." I can't help but wonder, were you this upset when the Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security exploded not only the size of government but its power to spy on and detain U.S. citizens during the Dubya years? Probably not.

  145. Can someone tell me who is the Republican establishment anymore? All we see are right wing billionaires, their facilitators and people with single track or half baked ideas financed usually by the first two groups.

    The truly scary thing is - as it happens always in politics - things will turn a full circle and the Republican party will gain power again. One hopes that their moral and sensible compass is restored by then.

    One can only hope because right now it appears that normal people with ideals but the ability to compromise and work with the other party are derided and hounded out.

    Ultimately though who is to blame for this madness? If the electorate thinks like the candidate - I can't believe most people believe attack ads - perhaps these are the leaders those people want.

    There is a huge groundswell of outrage among the traditional voters who elect these candidates - a perception that they are losing clout due to demographics and other factors including an erosion of personal wealth. But as it often happens, the instinct is to circle the wagons around marginal issues than work to reach the grand bargain that betters the country and their lives as a whole.

  146. History seems to show that novel ideas do become the central opinion of
    the populace. But further investigation indicates that it must spring from adding something of value and not removing that which has supported so many. Not the government handouts but things like, rules of the road, protection from capialistic opportunism and the routine provision of everyday infrastructure needs that spring from government and not from the capitalist adventurer/investor.

  147. This column is loopy. It is unserious. It is wacko.

    Notice that I haven't made a single rational argument yet or given you a reason to think that I might have a case.

    There is much to dislike and disagree with regarding Rand and his dad. But the fact is at times they have raised meaningful concerns regarding our war on drug users, our foreign military adventures, and our embrace of less than reputable allies. On these issues they are opposed by many in the Republican Party and apparently by more mainstream columnists.

    I find it quite distasteful that you find it acceptable to castigate Rand in this frivolous fashion instead of taking seriously the issues that he raises (the President's power to wage war remotely in a world wide battlefield) irrespective of the quirks of the individual. It is just of way of dismissing troubling issues without any deeper thought.

  148. Look at his hair- if we take him seriously then we have to take Ted Nugent seriously too.

  149. I agree with this sentiment. I am not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination (they are true believers who do not actually truly believe what they say because they never put their beliefs into action if it affects them personally). But this column gives no reason for the ad hominem against Rand Paul. Now Ted Cruz? There's a lot more material there to work with.

  150. we will welcome Rand Paul and Sara Palin as his VP in 2016! A true dream team. Mr. Bruni forgot to mention that once Rand Paul had congressional hearing that his toilet does not flash well. Pual (son and father), Ryan, Cruz, et al are the true images of the GOP

  151. Frank: Rand Paul isn't loopy; he's 2016's stalking horse a la Tricky Ricky Santorum, tossing rhetorical bombs out there, while rooms full of test subjects wired up to response monitors record the eye movements, sweat glands, pulse rates, snoring levels and, um, gurgling noises from the TP-types (where TP=whatever you wanna).

    Meanwhile, Marco will be Mr. Plain-White Vanilla for a coupla years, not sticking his neck out for anything more provocative than reinstating White House visits by Boy Scout troops.

    Then, when all the test results are in, Marco will rip off his clothes and reveal his slick Sooper-Stoopid-Party costume, complete with cape, sporting a Big Red R.

  152. N o doubt, there is also a profound saying that ants that are about to face their demise also acquire rings. The dentist turned politicians may be just living his own moment.

  153. Ophthalmologist, not dentist. Eyes, not teeth.

  154. Mr. Bruni,

    For the benefit of us in the reality-based universe could you kindly perform some journalistic investigation and explanation of who is pulling the media strings in DC and New York?

    How does a doofus (to use a polite term) like Rand Paul manage to obtain ink, pixels and airtime in the national media? He is yet the latest in the ever growing cast of Republicans who continue to spout demonstrable nonsense about war, economics and governance without fear of public shame.

    Paul's filibuster was complete nonsense compared to that of Bernie Sanders in December 2010 - but nobody covered Senator Sanders even though this subject touched the lives of every American and Paul's touched nearly none.

    Who are the decision-makers and what motivates their thinking that gives seats on the Sunday shows to so many frauds? Why do people like yourself, among dozens of others, spend time noticing their antics? Who are the editors and publishers pushing these know-nothings to the front and holding others away from the microphones?

    I'm tired of the sideshow clowns.

  155. The voters of Kentucky (and, potentially, voters nationwide) need to know Paul is a doofus. It's the media's job to tell them.

  156. Capt. Penny, I think we have the 24-hour news cycle to thank for a lot of this lunacy. You know, all that air time to fill, all that bandwith to fill. Too many opportunities to send in the clowns.

  157. Isn't little or no government synonymous with anarchy? Anarchy is a word that has fallen out of fashion. I think anarchists tended to be on the left. They tended to be associated with organized labor. One thinks of Emma Goldman as a prominent anarchist. It's interesting that the right embraces a similar philosophy of freedom from state authority.

    8:50 a.m.

  158. Please add Grover Norquist to the Republican's favorite anarchist list.

  159. That vegan analogy, though clever, doesn't quite cut it. Yes, many vegans are insufferable and have an irritating way of trying to make the rest of us feel guilty, but that's where it ends. No vegan can control what I CHOOSE to eat, although they're welcome to complain about it.

    Paul is just a hypocrite. Railing against the government while cashing his government paycheck and lounging around in his lavish Senate offices. We are the "government." We pay his salary and finance his health care. He works for US, so why are we allowing him in the kitchen?

  160. Don't forget the "government paycheck" he accepted for his work as a physician. He was against any Medicare cuts to providers.

  161. Yeah what kind of crazy stuff is this? FIrst he his against targeted drone assassinations of American citizens, then he comes out in favor of marijuana reform. I mean seriously this guy seems to think the government should act honorably and that people should be able to make minor decisions about their own life without government interference. That is just lunacy. We need a steady sane leader like our current president, you know the former pot head and coke user who throws people in jail for doing the same things he did while writing secret kill lists of American citizens. That is much more reasonable.

  162. As a Democrat, I love this development - the more wingnuts, the better. Let the GOP self-destruct, the sooner the better.

  163. Sen. Paul can and has turned the light on some ugly aspects of our government. Too bad he cares more about $ than people. Why can't Bernie Sanders get this kind of attention? He has turned the light on to way more ugliness then Sen. Paul. And Bernie is a decent man who puts people in front of $.

  164. I live in a very red area among mostly military retirees and what amazes me is how very thoughtful, likable and intelligent people can recite absolute political garbage. One of them was a NASA scientist with a great resume, and he loves Glen Beck and denies Obama is a citizen. And he is not unusual around here.

  165. I see that a minority of comments favor Paul and his libertarianism. That's an "ism" that falls under the category of "you can't get there from here."

    "Here" is a world of over seven billion going on nine, a world of mega cities and of growing deserts. Through the ages, dreamers have considered how to "save" human society; tyrants have murdered many millions in their quest for their own "isms." If the Pauls, father and son, got to impose their will on the USA, disease, hunger, and mass lawlessness would rage across the country. Putrefying corpses don't make a pretty cityscape.

    Perhaps libertarians might buy a swathe of territory out west--the Koch billions might help--and set up their own new libertarian state. A protective wall might keep out new ideas and they could live happily ever after.

  166. This separate territory for like minded people was tried once before here. The Mormons, however, were not left to their own devices and made fundamental changes to their ways after the Federal Troops were sent as a persuasive tool. There is the opportunity to turn an existing State into a Libertarian one if enough such like minded people relocate there to become a majority. Soon enough though they would most likely run afoul of SCOTUS if their laws went against the usual Federal mandates.

  167. The most delicate issues, like vegetables, need the least dressing, and Chef Paul’s come with way too much. One is either for civil rights or against them, no amount of oil and vinegar makes the position private businesses or states can set their own limits make the position palatable enough for 21st century America. See his Rachel Maddow interview to taste for yourself.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2010/05/19/4310399-rachel-maddows-inte...

    The only thing more dangerous than brainless Tea Party leader is one that can think, even if it takes a while for them to get the words out for constant care needed to make sure he does step on the lies, misdirection(s) and falsehoods spoken previously.

    When initial reports about Mr. Paul’s speech suggested that he was backing full citizenship for illegal immigrants, his staff quickly corrected the record, saying that he supports “a quicker path to normalization, not citizenship.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/us/politics/gop-opposition-to-immigrat...

    Covering the faux filibuster gave this Senator too much stage. The second class citizenship he endorses as immigration reform needs to be rejected quickly and completely. It is more doom for the American middle class, not because of the immigrants but because it further stabilizes a peasant class.

  168. What bothers me the most about Paul and the rest of his conservative/libertarian fellowship, is the notion that caring/helping for our citizens is unconstitutional.

    The very idea that we are trying to make our modern day living pertain to all the words of a document written hundreds of years ago, is quite frankly, preposterous. Our society has progressed, we no longer must worry about the stagecoach being robbed, our cattle stolen or squatters living in the back forty.

    We are what we want ourselves to be. If a majority of us believe in taking care of those most unfortunate among us or that we band our money together to insure an old age where we may continue to eat and afford medical care, then we should do so.

    Too much power is given to those who claim to interpret the constitution.......and that an entire political party banks it's credibility on reading the minds of men long dead, should be more than suspect.

  169. Even a crazy salad can have nutritious bits.

    Paul latched onto widely shared concern over how drones will be deployed. Good for that, but had drones existed 12 years ago, would Paul have taken to the Senate floor and questioned their use? That's the point Eric Holder tried (and failed) to make. Paul served a purpose by forcing the Administration to be slightly less opaque on this issue.

    I feel badly about the 350 estimated children killed by drones, but since when has the American public taken the issue of collateral child losses seriously? Was it after Hiroshima? Vietnam? (We do respond to a wartime horror when it is the result of a flawed character at the scene, such as Mai Lai and Abu Grabe, but those exceptions to the rule).

  170. Solid agencies with a history for looking into deaths from war and revolt have concluded we (the U.S.) caused directly and indirectly the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis since 2003. Our government, of course, insists the collateral damage (such a lovely phrase for needless death, isn't it?) is only on the scale of 100,000 or so...
    Did Rand Paul worry about those deaths? I'm not aware of him speaking up about them, then or now...

    And drones? We've been using them now for years. Various liberal and non-political groups have been questioning their use and accuracy for years, but like the anti-war groups in 2002/2003, have been widely ignored by the media. It's nice the Sen Paul has decided to join the likes of liberal religious groups and the ACLU to question their usage, but he's hardly the first...

  171. I don't know, compared with what has passed for mainstream Republicanism, Rand Paul (like his father) is both refreshing and honest. We need more Republicans willing to take on their party on domestic spying and bank bailouts. We need some Democrats willing to take on their party over the Debt. With Paul (like his father) here is something there to offend everyone, on the left or the right. That alone suggests he isn't as loony as you make him out to be.

  172. "We need some Democrats willing to take on their party over the Debt." Have you not noticed that the debt has been going down steadily under Obama's watch. In fact, even Boehner has said we don't have an immediate debt crisis.
    I like to point out this fact; 70% of all U.S. debt was incurred by Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.

  173. The debt was overwhelmingly created not by Democrats, but by Republicans.

    And the debt cannot be solved by simply cutting spending. It requires increasing taxes as well, if you really are serious about the debt. Democrats have repeatedly agreed to cuts in spending, with Obama even agreeing to cut Social Security. Thus far, Republicans refuse to budge an inch on the issue of increased taxes.

    Meanwhile, until the economy returns to full, or near-full, functioning, government SHOULD spend to take up the slack (simple Keynesian economics, which has served this nation well in the past). Cutting now would only push us back into a recession, even into a long depression. And the deficit is falling (projected to be half what it was 4 years ago), and the debt as a percentage of GDP is also becoming smaller.

    As to Rand Paul being honest...well, I have problems with a physician who creates his own make-believe "certification" organization, with his father as CEO and wife as Treasurer, and who for years was the only certified doctor in America (according to his own self-made certification agency). Meanwhile, there was a perfectly neutral and effective American Ophthalmology Board able to accredit Dr. Paul, but Paul refused to seek their certification (or perhaps is unable to pass the certifying exam?)...THAT is dishonest, as he proclaims to his patients he is "board certified"...by his own personal certifying board!

  174. When I was a kid, the face of the Republican Party was Dwight Eisenhower. When you are young, you are more impressionable. So I started life with a favorable view of Republicans.

    But the face has changed. Now it looks like Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz.

    Mitt Romney, deep down, was never really a severe conservative. So his loss has had little effect on the GOP. That's why I hope the Republicans choose a real Tea Partier in 2016 to lead them.

    I predict that they will, and that person's landslide defeat will push the sensible Republicans to take back their party.

  175. As a former republican I can relate. The problem is there are no longer enough "sensible Republicans." The party has been taken over by the far right and they aren't going away any time soon. My best guess is they will take the party down and a new moderate thrid party will emerge.

  176. I've been hoping for that for a long time.

  177. Unfortunately "sensible Republicans" are an endangered species and may be going the way of the Dodo. I am an African/Irish American and a retired military officer. Over the years I have voted for Democrats and Republicans for both state and national offices. I have watched in horror as the GOP has become anti-science, raciest, and just wacky. God help us, these fools will eventually destroy our democracy.

  178. So many of the things that Libertarians espouse were thought to be "wacko" at the time, and are now considered mainstream: School choice, school vouchers, cap and trade, legalization of drugs, etc. There is a large proportion of the Republican party which is truly interested in limited government, and this segment is feeling increasingly alienated by the Religious right, which has dominated the party for the last 3 decades. Rand Paul appeals to that side of the party, and to democrats who share his veiws on personal liberty, unnecessary wars, decriminalization of drugs, the deficit, etc. This is a direction in which the Republicans need to go. Can a party which supports limiting the size of soft drinks really characterize Paul as loopy?

  179. How does he vote on cap-and-trade? The last 15 years, it has been the GOP (not Democrats) who've strenuously opposed all cap-and-trade bills.

    How does he vote on abortion? Until he clearly and consistently opposes all the GOP-led votes and laws to mandate unnecessary ultrasounds, picture viewing, 24-, 48-, or 72- hour delays, etc., then he's hardly an actual libertarian.

    Gay marriage? Does he support repeal of DOMA?

    The deficit? Most of it was created by Republican (including the Libertarian leaning Republicans) over the last 30 years, beginning with Reagan, but especially under Bush. This GOP fascination with things Libertarian has, for the most part, only developed over the last 4-5 years. It certainly wasn't readily apparent in the GOP that voted for TWO unfunded wars, an unfunded expansion of Medicare (even barring Medicare from using a very standard capitalist procedure of negotiating for the best possible prices), the NCLB expansion into our schools, and on and on!

    Only since a Democrat returned to the White House have Republicans suddenly returned to trying to claim a mantle of "small government" and even that has been selective. I have no doubt, should a Republican win the White House in 2016, especially if Republicans control any portion of Congress, we'll see a return to a Republican party that cannot stay out of our lives!

  180. You imply that Rand Paul's ascent is so steep that he threatens a nosebleed. This is hardly the case.

    I get an enormous kick out of the coverage of CPAC by the pundit liberati: it's as if by covering their antics you've prepared yourselves to advise all of America, indeed the globe, on the status of the Republican Party. Rand Paul is flying high among the most conservative splinter of our party, not among mainstream, block-and-tackle Republicans, who far outnumber any other splinter.

    Recall that it was the Republican National Committee that commissioned and just had published a laundry-list of things we need to do as Republicans to avoid yet another squeaker whose maybe-this-way-maybe-that outcome falls to Democrats in 2014 and 2016, as it did in 2012. CPAC sniffed at it, but the rest of us are taking that list to heart and actively pursuing those recommendations that deal with greater inclusiveness and general moderation.

    The steady drumbeat of mass-tarring by the left of anything on the right, based on their observations almost exclusively focused on those Sen. McCain calls "wacko-birds", has the cess of someone ambling past a graveyard at midnight, whistling.

    Rand Paul as a credible Republican nominee for President? Giveth me a break: I'm laughing so hard MY nose is starting to bleed.

  181. "CPAC sniffed at [the RNC's report], but the rest of us are taking that list to heart and actively pursuing those recommendations that deal with greater inclusiveness and general moderation."

    Great. But movement conservatives and Tea Partiers constitute a large bloc of the Republican party; and those people believe that the GOP loses national election after national election because candidates fail to promote "core principles." As Marco Rubio put it at CPAC, "we don't need new ideas."
    How nice. And this from the guy who's recently been anointed the voice of reason in the GOP.

    As for focusing on the "wacko-birds," Republicans put forward large a field of possible presidential candidates in 2012. Five of them--Perry, Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Paul--fit McCain's description to some degree. (I'd put Newt "Moon Colony" Gingrich in the category as well.) Liberals are supposed to focus on people like Jon Huntsman, when he can't get any attention from his own party?

  182. Ah, NA, it's so convenient to conduct a one-sided argument based on the 2012 presidential primaries when only Republicans conducted them -- we didn't get to see the fractured reality in that election year of the VERY big-tent Democratic Party. But we'll certainly be entertained by it in 2016.

    And that's the whole point, isn't it? This piece looks at Rand Paul's acsendancy within one splinter of the right, yet doesn't compare the immensely amusing differences between a Blue-dog Democrat and Bernie Sanders, who in his extremism I place squarely in the Ted Cruz "wacko-bird" camp, only from left-field rather than right-field. Those among presidential contenders on the left who follow ol' Bernie have about as much chance of making it to a nomination as Rand Paul does. Republicans ALWAYS nominate the most electable among the available options, while Democrats usually do (but certainly not always -- look at McGovern).

    Not that I'm astonished at the focus of this piece, given the venue, but if Democrats are really interested in conducting a threat-estimate that uncovers where the real threats to the Hillster or Biden or whoever lie, then focusing on Rand Paul and CPAC doesn't get you there, any more than banging on Bernie Sanders gets a useful outcome for the right.

  183. Oh sure Rand Paul hates government.

    I'll believe that when he quits his job and gives up his publicly supported benefits, which will be never.

  184. Rand Paul is a surgeon, money isn't an issue with him....look at the Dems who've been in Congress for 25+ years and have no other source of income

  185. Ted Cruz is not a loon. Sarah Palin is not a loon. Mr. Bruni, you seem to still be suffering from Palin derangement syndrome. Skittering lightly across one point after another, preceded by your opening paragraph's vitriol,seems to be the way of hating liberals such as yourself. You are indeed an employee of the 527 for Democrats, The NY Times.
    There can be,and should be,a discussion of issues with Republicans of whatever stripe and intelligent liberals/Democrats/"progressives". That purpose is stymied by vitriolic smears such as yours, with little understanding,and the rash of hateful comments by your followers, who act like dogs in a pack.
    So...did you agree with Obama and Holder, that it was fine to drone strike Americans on American soil, or are you glad, as am I, that R Paul's nearly 13 hr filibuster forced a response from the administration that they would not do such a thing?
    He doesn't have a distaste for government. He just has a distaste for the way people in government are now running it. Thank goodness he is there; so many of his fellow Senators, esp those who voted for the looney Obamacare/Abysmalcare, seem to have a distaste for the people they were elected to represent.
    Medicare is broke and does not even reimburse doctors enough at this very time to be considered intact; the future looks worse. Obama and his fellow Dems voted, with Obamacare, to take $716 billion from it. Any attempt to make it work, any discussion of change, will raise the ire of millions.

  186. I agree, neither Cruz nor Palin are loons. Man, they are truly looney though. I agree that loons are stately birds that grace our waters. Palin and Cruz are not stately in any way shape or form. They are part of the extreme out of the mainstream thinking that goes on and they are not able to thing constructively. Anyone of average intelligence can be against things, it requires some depth to propose alternative solutions. I failed to see the vitriolic smear in Bruni's article, but as Reagan said, "There you go again!"

  187. Stop getting all your news from fox."He doesn't have a distaste for government. He just has a distaste for the way people in government are now running it." Have you been paying attention the last 40 years? 8 years of Nixon/Ford, 4 years of Carter, 12 years of Reagan/Bush, 8 years of Clinton, 8 years of Bush, 4 years of Obama. 28 years of Republican leadership vs.16 years of Democrat. That tells me, anyway, that Republicans have been running this Country almost twice as much as Democrats. So who is responsible for the abysmal state of government?
    The Affordable Care Act has not had a chance to succeed or fail, yet. However, 30 years of supply side Reaganomics has had its chance and it has failed miserably. Welfare to layabouts was cut to the bone by a Democratic president; welfare to fat cats in industries that are doing very well on their own have not been touched by one Republican, they have instead grown.
    Republicans were pretty much in complete control of government during Bush's terms and we got two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, a big payout to the pharmaceutical industrial complex all without going on the books. We got the biggest expansion of government in history while accumulating the largest debt. In fact, 70% of all U.S. debt from our beginning was accrued during Reagan, Bush I and Bush II.
    And our infrastructure was allowed to deteriorate to the state of a banana republic while millions were out of work.

  188. A $716 billion cut to Medicare?

    You mean the SAME $716 billion cut that's in the Ryan "Path To Prosperity" Budget? LOL!!!

    Of course, there is a major difference.

    $216 billion is SAVED (not cut) by ending Medicare Advantage which was a GOP passed law that paid private insurance companies to do Medicare's work for Medicare, but since those private insurers wouldn't participate at Medicare rates (Medicare's less than 3% admin costs were too small for a private insurance firm to make a decent level of profit), the GOP sweetened the deal by paying the private insurers Medicare rates PLUS 13%!!! Or $216 billion diverted from healthcare for seniors straight into the pockets of insurance company CEOs!!

    The other $500 billon comes from a deal Obama made with the hospitals of the United States, in which the hospitals agreed to accept a reduction in payment of $500 billion (over 10 years) but only in exchange for the individual mandate, requiring every American to be covered by health insurance. Why? Because with tens of millions having no health insurance, who often use the nation's hospital ERs as their only place of healthcare, and then having no means to pay the bills, the hospitals concluded they are actually financially better off with the exchange: $500 billion in less payment for universal insurance! Of course, Ryan's budget eliminates the individual mandate, but keeps the $500 billion cut. So it's actually the GOP who are cutting Medicare, not Obama!

  189. Paul is seen as someone in Washington who puts the country before his job.
    People see this and along with his common sense approach to issues, he has a bright future whereas those people in Washington that helped usher in the debt load on the tax payers and who put their jobs ahead of the country and its people will see an end to their careers. The old guard is nothing more than Democrats with an R by their name. They are all bought and paid for by Corporate America and Special Interest. People like Rand Paul will not sell their soul to the devil. He has integrity! Somehting very lacking in Washington these days.

  190. No need for Rand to sell his soul to the devil, it's already a done deal!

  191. The problem with his so-called integrity is that his philosophy won't solve the problems!

  192. I am life long liberal Democrat. Never voted for a Republican. Not one.
    But is there any person who disagrees with Sen. Paul's point on drones? Anyone?
    The filibuster was a brilliant media manipulation.

    To denigrate his followers as uneducated, nerdy, poor or all three is short sighted.

  193. Oh Frank, you've outdone yourself! This is brilliant. Phrase after delicious phrase, I simply must move them to memory. "The tail wags the dog." That's the very statement I've been searching for since 2010 when this unbelievable group of nuts fell to the Congressional ground.

    After reading this column, I see the perfect irony here: a minority so outrageous that's it become the new norm of the Republican party, which is now paying for its sins of getting into bed with the Christian right, the old Confederacy, and its unholy alliance with the NRA.

    Social scientists have written about how hostages grow to emulate and even love their captors. Perhaps this is what has happened to the Republican party, taken hostage by a fringe that knows no bounds or manners. Some moderates like Lugar have retired, others to become lobbyists and write books. Those who stayed, however, are morphing into the very insanity that makes headlines.

    Being an eastern liberal, I have no idea where this all ends. It would be highly entertaining if the likes of Paul, Cruz, Ryan, and Bachmann weren't so obnoxious and self-righteous. And hypocritical: they have no problem screaming at liberals for "imposing" their social values into laws while they do the precisely same by trying to export nutty state laws so out of the mainstream you think you're watching a Hollywood parody.

    Is this really 2013?

  194. (Ayn) Rand Paul could be a blessing for Democrats in 2016. A looney Repub presidential candidate who could have a much greater impact on the Republican primaries than did the 2912 wackos, Santorum, Bachmann, Gingrich, et al. Heck, he might even run on a Libertarian ticket and be the new Ross Perot, ensuring another
    Clinton win with less than 50%!

  195. Sen. Paul's desire to rise in the politics of the Republican Party has uncovered his basic hypocrisy. How can Libertarianism embrace a view of government that regulates private behavior? It is a contradiction so fundamental that I can't imagine how he can avoid the image of someone talking out of both sides of his mouth.

  196. I lost count of the metaphors and similes.

  197. Me too. I'm a loyal reader of Bruni's pieces and admirer of his writing competence in a widening scope of subject matter since moving on from Times food critic. But a reader must be prepared to engage him metaphorically, stomaching at least one food related. At least he is metaphorically consistent within a paragraph and there is no rule about mixing in successive paragraphs. Oh well, it makes for a nice change of scenery.

  198. Form the article,
    'Then Paul triumphed, the Tea Party proved its muscle and McConnell, eyeing his own 2014 re-election bid, had to worry about being undone by the very romance with naysaying outsiders that lofted Paul to victory.'

    If the Tea Party is calling the shots in the primaries, then who really is on 'The Outside'. One assumes that the Republican 'mainstream' is the 'stream' that attracts the most supporters. The 'fringe' can't, by definition, be larger than the mainstream. Things have flipped; McConnel and Coryn's seniority isn't that meaningful and they now find themselves on the outside trying desparate to impress the new mainstream.

    Rand Paul's ideas may seem odd by the political preferences of a New York Times author but they appear to quite popular with Republican voters. His views on the hopeless, pointless Drug Prohibition wont hurt him with independents either.

    To play on the vegan/steakhouse riff, Rand Paul did not come to the steakhouse as a vegan to EAT, he came the steakhouse to protest and close it down.

  199. The point, though, is that the GOP's primary voters do not decide the election. All voters do, and increasingly the Tea Party candidates are so crazy sounding that many moderates (who decide the election in most states) can't bring themselves to vote for the Republican, when they might have had it been a more "mainstream" Republican (as measured by the views and opinions of all Americans, not just Republicans).

  200. Rand Paul is a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats! May he continue to dazzle the Republicans, to drive them further to their logical Libertarian roots and may he drive Reince Priebus stark raving mad...as they both watch their party go over the cliff of American politics. I guess it really is "Hillary's turn"!

  201. There's a lot of underlying angst in Paul's appeal, and I suspect it has a lot to do with what people see: individuals with WIC cards buying expensive cuts of meat, the line at the post office the day the disability and welfare checks come in, or a cousin or two who has never worked a day in his or her life. I've known people who brag about how they play the government – how they "got on disability," and even how they "got" their relatives and spouses on it.

    There are counties in Kentucky where over half the population is receiving some sort of assistance and many are just getting worse as the best high school graduates leave for the cities and universities and never return.

    As a result, the people who are left don't have a lot of options, and many of them fall into the trap of welfare, disability, and drug abuse. The lottery and setting up a viable meth lab are the only hopes some of them have. Self medication for depression, either through eating too much, drinking, or addiction to pain medication is prevalent. Many gain so much weight their knees and hips wear out by the time they’re forty or fifty years old.

    I’ve visited a great many of the “red” states and the “red” portions of a few "blue" ones. It is not an accidental statistic that states such as Kentucky have a significantly higher incidence of dependency. If anything, there’s a bit of Kentucky in all the states.

    I agree with Senator Paul about the toilets. I cuss Congress all the time over those.

  202. As a Family Physician I have seen many patients who were unable to truly care for themselves. My prescription is affordable available birth control for every woman in America who wants it. Unwanted babies are at greater risk for abuse and neglect and they cost a lot of money in prenatal care, obstetrical care, pediatric medical care, child protective services, special education, and juvenile justice services: as well as eventual disability payments.
    The distracted mother turns her head for 30 seconds: the child falls down the stairs and bumps his head; he cries for a little while; when he is in first grade he has trouble learning.
    Or the distracted father turns his head for 30 seconds and the 2 year old shoots himself with the gun that was on the coffee table (true story).

    I would like every American child to be born a wanted child.

    Prevent disability, prevent abuse and neglect, donate to Planned Parenthood.

  203. Lines at the post office the day disability and welfare checks come in??

    Seriously? Spoken like the true believer, who still thinks that Reagan's Cadillac-driving welfare queen really existed! The government moved disability and welfare from "checks" in the mail to direct-deposit and ATM cards years ago!

    The only line you're seeing in the Post Office are people buying stamps and mailing packages, and likely caused by an understaffed and underfunded Post Office trying to serve too many people with too few resources.

  204. I love, just love the verbiage. The message is pretty good, too.

  205. I think the republicans were looking for hair to the left of Donald Trump and came up with this lump.

  206. The Tea Party sure has finished off all Republican politicians I could stomach.

  207. A majority of Americans share his foreign policy views, but he'll never survive based on his wacky approach to domestic issues.

  208. Seat belt laws? What a silly thing to rail about, you imply. But what if instead of seeing it as a benign imperative to do what we should do, we see them as just another way to criminalize "driving while black"? A quick google on "driving while black seat belts" brings up many cases, all over the country.

    The nanny state is not a nice state. It is a police state.

  209. In my state, for decades police have been forbidden by law from stopping a driver simply for not wearing a seatbelt. It has always been referred to as a secondary observation, where, if you are pulled over for something more serious and weren't wearing a seatbelt, you could be ticketed for no seatbelt. But the seatbelt cannot be the sole reason to pull you over.

    Finally, this year, our state legislature is planning to raise no seatbelt to a primary observation and cause to be pulled over! Of course, for the last 10 or so years, quite literally nine out of ten traffic accidents with fatalities involved people not wearing seatbelts (and in many cases, others in the same vehicle as the deceased who were wearing seatbelts survived). We've also had dozens of incidents annually of people (not wearing seatbelts) dying after being "evicted" from the vehicle at the moment of crash.

    Benign imperative? Saves lives, lowers insurance costs, lowers healthcare costs, lowers taxes...I live in a state with a low black population, centered mostly in one neighborhood of one city. But even they don't complain that they're being targeted for "driving while black" when it comes to seatbelt usage, and applauded the change to the law!

  210. But then why would lesser enforcement of seat belt laws also be the answer to racial profiling? (Incidentally, I Googled your entry, and found this: In one instance, a link showed that lots of advocacy groups for African Americans supported enforcement of these laws because statistics show that more blacks and Latinos die in accidents. Harassment of blacks who don't wear seat belts by police is just another way to advance racial profiling, which, seat belts or no, doesn't seem to be going away anyhow.)

    We often call ours the "nanny" state, but it's not as if some of us don't need nannies sometimes. Paul wants to get rid of a law that's been proven to save perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives over more than a generation? Please pass me my pacifier.

  211. It is ironic that the same folks who don't want to wear seat belts and motorcycle helmets don't want to be forced to buy sufficient insurance because they know that the nanny state they rail against will be forced to give them emergency and long-term care at taxpayer expense. Let's change the laws so that these folks are FREE to eschew belts, helmets and insurance and we are FREE to deny them access to emergency rooms and long term medical care and rehabilitation.

  212. Good grief. The Home for Retired GOPers is going to have to have two wings now: one for the Crazies, and one for the Even Craziers.

  213. And a wing for the ZOMBIES !

  214. Not that long ago, freedom of speech and a representative government were called loopy ideas too. What's really loopy is Bruni criticizing and ridiculing ideas that have been in the American mainstream for over two centuries.

    But I admit, relative to Bruni's brand of socialism, yes, Rand Paul is indeed loopy.

  215. Sir:
    You wouldn't know socialism if it bit you on your posterior. Stop drinking the FOX tea and wake up to the real world. Paul is as loopy as the psychopath whose name he bears.

  216. Ah... you'd be referring to slavery, voting rights only for landowning males, and similar mainstream American ideas, right, Haim? I'm with you... if only we could somehow freeze America in 1850...

    Loopy is as loopy does.

  217. Bruni did mention, though to dissapointing lack of depth, Rand's hatred of the government, his hatred of civil rights laws and the environmental regulations.
    Some ideas have indeed been in the American consciousness for centuries: nullification, racial purity, distrust of the Federal System, etc.: however they are the haven of state's righters, racists, and downright disloyalists. They are morally dispicable.
    I liked Bruni's piece, but wish he had written a bit more about the wacko ideas of Rand, especially the foolish idolization of the market for which the Paul boys are known.

  218. The United States Senate, formerly an august and distinguished body of legislators, known far and wide as the greatest deliberative body on Earth, an upper house with real and substantial power in a world of weak "consultative," or "advisory" upper houses, used to be a house of giants. The late John F. Kennedy told the stories of some of the more notable "greats" of the Senate in his book, Profiles in Courage. Today, however, courage seems to be in short supply in the Senate; the world's greatest deliberative body seems to resemble an insane asylum where the inmates have taken over, and the house of courageous giants seems more like a house of cowardly dwarfs.

  219. The unsettling this about these so-called upstarts, is that they feed into a very discomforting thread of American society--that freedom means doing anything you want anytime you want and to hell with everybody else, a supposition that anything the government does for the country as a whole is an imposition, that efforts to limit pollution and climate changes, and water shortages infringes on their liberty to use up the resources for personal profit at the expense of everyone else, they whip up some seriously undesirable passions from the baser instincts of human experience against their fellow citizens, against those less fortunate, against those of different religions, races, or sexual orientations, all in the name of individuality on an extremely grand scale. Individuality is important--more so to Americans than other societies, but we are also (with the exception of some states in the once called American desert) no longer a country of sparse, homogenous population with huge tracts of empty land for the taking, or ability to thrive without a certain amount of infrastructure and laws governing civil society. Once a society "grows up" and develops, it realizes the interdependence of human interaction, and how that interaction affects all members of that society--you rip away the "entitlement" safety nets that so many complain about -- the problems that creates can be much much larger than the amount of debt/taxation saved for the better off.

  220. I completely agree. There's no longer a sense of community among people in many areas. Instead it's all "live free or die" with no coherent narrative of a social contract comprising both what we owe to each other and what the government owes to us. The government needs to promote the collective good. Having low-flush toilets and having cars with seatbelts are two prime examples. If you don't want to wear your seatbelt, I suppose that's your choice...as long as you refuse all medical treatment if you sustain an accident. If not, you're driving up my, and everyone else's, insurance premium with your reckless behavior.

  221. Among those very few that vote on Rand Paul's proposed legislation is my senator, Mike Lee. He is a man who loves the Constitution, except the parts he doesn't like; loves freedom, except when it leads to people doing things he doesn't like; and is all for states' rights, except when state legislatures pass bills he doesn't like.

    As is Rand Paul, Mike Lee is all for the stuff he likes (most of which occurred only in a mythic past) and very much wants to prevent people from doing the stuff he doesn't like. And given that he is a man who thinks he knows the will of God and his God pretty much hates everything we mortals do, there is very little that Mike Lee likes. He is a joyless man. Both men should be ignored.

  222. While everyone in the media seems to be feasting on the nuggets of the wackos that have dominated the political scene, I wish the press would take more responsibility in calling a wacko a wacko when they have proven themselves to be wacko's. That Ron Paul is even considered in the press to be presidential material elevates him to that status. Do we not remember the wonderful circus of the 2012 GOP primaries? We as a nation are supposed to be representative of the majority, and continually elevating nonsense into our newsfeed makes me wonder if perhaps we all are becoming a little wacko. I give them the law that protects their free speech, but I would like the free speech of our news media to approach the stories the fringe generates with a more reasonable perspective. We haven't been reluctant to call our president to task when he has fallen short, and we shouldn't hold back in calling out these radicals for the damage they do. And tho I actually applaud Paul for at least using a REAL filibuster, think of how great it would be if that legislative time had been used to accomplish the job of running the government's real and meaningful business.

  223. The way I figure it, IF you can follow Rand Paul's 'logic', then you are hopelessly lost.

  224. Frank just why is Rand Paul making headlines, please tell us readers. We have been trying to figure out why even the nations leading news source the NYT gives the loonies such front page coverage. We have been subjected to Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, New Gingrich, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Herman Cain. Michelle Bachmann just to name a few and now Rand Paul. They all flamed out and so will Rand Paul. If there is someone of reasonable intelligence with some sane conservative policies in the Republican party out there we would like to hear about it.

    The GOP is desperate for a ray of sunlight in the pit of darkness that they have willingly sunk into, why does the press aid and abet and enable them. Please leave it to FOX, Brietbart and Rush. We can add all of these "Republican rising stars" to Paul Krugman's list of zombies. Let's move on.

  225. "Paul personifies the G.O.P.’s curse right now"

    No Mr Bruni, you have it all wrong.

    Where you should be looking for any "curse" is not the GOP, but each one of us.

    Because, when it comes to dysfunctional and "loopy" behavior, look no further than the American electorate, growing more ignorant and squabbling by the year and have proven, more times than not, to be incapable of electing any adult leadership in any level of government, especially Washington.

  226. The electorate is ignorant—possibly due to the hijacking of the mainstream media by corporate owners and their in furthering their corporate goals and revenue than bravely informing the public at the risk of angering their political benefactors in government.

    Had Democrats not peevishly chosen to sit out the 2010 elections, because they were disappointed President Obama hadn't addressed all their interests in just a year, we most likely wouldn't have had a run of successful Republican Tea Partiers able to hold a majority in the House, enough to require a super majority for every vote in the Senate grinding the wheels of our government to a standstill. The result only served to encourage and enabling Boehner and Mitchell to continue to oppose the President and Democrats at every turn, and resulted statewide republican majority legislatures able to redraw districts securing republican representatives for the next 10 years yielding voter proof republican districts.

    That is the real lunacy in our dysfunctionally diminishing democracy.

  227. Were Rand Paul not the son of the former congressman from Texas, Paul would not be a Senator from the state of Kentucky. His election to high pubic office shows how distorted from reality our politics has become.

    http;//michaeslevinson.com

  228. So true.

  229. Rand Paul is a great Senator! The attack on Ron Paul, and now Rand Is very confusing. It is as if you attack the Pope, who has forgiven the dude who shot him?

    Obviously, anyone who oppose the secretive Feds, or wanting to audit them, or even object to them having such monopoly must be a bad person?

    If Saudi Arabia contributed the hate ideology and 15 out of the 19 terrorists of 9/11, then we go and let their people fly safely back, and waste 6 trillion dollars on attacking Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11; then Ron Paul start to talk against the war mongers in his party? Even the liberals starts to attack him?

    A country of robots have very few people who can think on their own.

  230. Speaking of thinking on your own they don't call Limbaughs fans dido heads for nothing. No group has ever been brainwashed more.

  231. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Rand Paul is right on drugs and Iraq being a horrible mistake.
    But if Rand Paul is a stopped clock, the GOP establishment is one with no hands--or brains--at all. All they say is no, over and over, like parrots. They have run out of time.

    So don't look now, but Rand Paul will be a major force in the Republican Party for a while--until he comes out with his next jaw-dropping, ignorant remark. They've already rejected Chris Christie, the only viable candidate they have, and the Democrats are salivating over running against Jeb Bush, who stole the 2000 election for his dim brother. But his fellow GOPers will probably do him in as well.

    The Republicans have formed a circular firing squad. Can't say I'm troubled by it.

    www.newyorkgritty.net

  232. I live in KY and am ashamed to say that I held my nose and voted for Paul. Why? I didn't like the Democratic opposition and didn't want the Democrats to gain a Senate seat. Frankly, I was not going to vote in the Senate race at all, but a friend whom I respect assured me that Paul was so out in right field that he could do no harm as no one would take him seriously. Boy, was she wrong!

    It's not easy voting in KY. We run the most damned assortment of mediocre louts imaginable, in local, state and federal elections. And now some think that Ashley Judd would be just the ticket! Her lack of being a resident of the state doesn't appear to bother anyone here, Heck, we even had a state legislator whose vote was bought for $500 - no high prices for bribery in this state - just about anyone can afford to buy a legislator!

    Mitch McConnell has done a lot for KY and at least he doesn't embarrass us. I'm mortified every single time Rand Paul opens his mouth.

  233. Um, you might want to consider being embarrassed by Mitch McConnell.

  234. You think McConnell doesn't embarrass Kentucky? Seriously? The chief of obstruction in the Senate for the last four years? The person who claimed his most important goal was making Obama a one-term president? You absolutely must be joking.

  235. He doesn't believe in the American Disabilities Act. People are magically going to build wheelchair ramps and accessible bathrooms in Rand Paul's world.

    Can we hang a poster in the Congres.."John Galt is a fictional character and so is the concept of a small government super power".

  236. The Republicans have a great new strategy:

    The goofball of the month club !!

  237. "Now he’s making headlines and waves, and not as a Tea Party curiosity but as a Republican Party lodestar, someone discussed seriously as a possible force in the 2016 presidential primaries."

    So. At various times during the Republican primaries, Michele Bachmann was a force. So weren't Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and finally and disastrously for the GOP, Mitt Romney. People like Rand Paul are a godsend to Democrats.

  238. Please note that this opthalmologist passed his board exams given by the American Board of Opthalmology one time. BUT, when it came time for him to be recertified by his peers in the matter of his skill as an eye surgeon, he found a way to quibble with this body and chose to start his OWN "National" Board of Optalmology. He's the president, his wife's the vice president, and the address of this "Board" is a post office box in his home town.
    This sneaky manuever has to be emblematic of Rand Paul. When you don't like the rules, ignore them or make new ones yourself.
    If he continues to get political power and media attention, this preposterous manipulation to bypass accepted medical standards needs to be repeated regularly. It shows just what kind of man he is --- and what kind of physician.

  239. Well, gosh! If Sarah Palin could run for a high office, and if her ticket won, and if her running mate died (Gosh!), then wouldn't she be The Leader of the Free World?

    A frightening scenario?
    Well, just replace her name with Rand Paul, and...

    Or, if we really did make a big mistake in 1776, couldn't we just ask Her Majesty to take us back?

    All things considered, wasn't George III (Gosh!) similar to what we cope with now?

    OK. OK. But at least his dismal condition was not of his own making, right?

  240. That's a lot of metaphors you got running around in that column today there buddy. All a lot of fun and games till someone gets an eye poked out. Then you're gonna wish you'd been nicer to the insurgent ophthalmologist, my friend.

  241. Bruni is criticizing Rand Paul for the wrong reasons. Imagine criticizing Pope Francis for being a religious conservative.

    Bruni and others on the Left or Center Left should understand you have a common enemy (Drones, Drug War and so on) and Rand Paul is an ally in those battles.

  242. Drones and Black Helicopters are after you, Mack.

  243. There is NO way this nut will ever get elected for higher office. I just wish voters would stop sending these people to washington and send some instead who actually want to get something DONE. These obstructionists are wasting MY time and their constituents....its time for all of them to stop collecting a paycheck for doing nothing.

  244. Mr. Bruni, you need a metaphor checker in your word processor.

  245. To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, Republicans need to double down on their conservatism. Yeah, that's the ticket. You go, GOP!

  246. I would be delighted to see Senator "Turtle" McConnell get "primaried" in 2014 ... his orchestrated and unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate the last four years will leave the institution dysfunctional for decades, if not longer ....

  247. Rand Paul: an ophthamologist with vision problems.

  248. Bravo, Michael!! Well written!

  249. Hardly. I think he sees rather clearly.