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Paul on the issues

I've noticed some of Rand Paul's supporters arguing that Paul's radical views on federal regulation don't matter because he won't have to vote on things like repealing the Civil Rights Act, or, as Conor Friedersdorf says, repealing the minimum wage or a bill allowing employers to hire as many illegal immigrants as they want.

But that's confusing the issue. Paul will almost certainly have to vote on changes to the minimum wage and policies enforcing the prohibition on hiring illegal immigrants. If he thinks both enterprises are illegitimate, that's probably going to affect how he votes. And if it's not, if his position is going to be that "I don't think the federal government should bar the hiring of illegal immigrants but so long as it is, let's all get biometric ID cards so it's effective," then let him tell us that.

Update: Speaking of which, it looks like Paul is already getting -- and dodging -- questions on the minimum wage. "It's not a question of whether they can or cannot," he says. "I think that's decided." Pointedly, he doesn't say if he thinks it was decided correctly.

One argument Friedersdorf makes in his post is that states rights and federal regulation matter a lot less these days than things like the PATRIOT Act. But the PATRIOT Act, of course, was a response to an unexpected event. The national agenda can change very rapidly, but senators don't stand for reelection very often. So the fact that Paul won't answer these questions is a serious problem. After all, he's not saying he'll recuse himself from voting on these issues, so it's not appropriate for him to refuse to answer straightforward questions on these issues.

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 2:16 PM ET
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I think the fact that Rand Paul apparently cannot tell the difference between something that is un-Constitutional and something that is simply less than ideologically pure libertarianism is problematic.

The fact that he's apparently come by most of his political philosophizing in an uncritical vacuum is likely to doom his political career.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | May 21, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if Mitch McConnell still thinks it was a great idea to shunt Jim Bunning to the old folks home. Bunning was probably going to have a tough time holding the seat for the GOP, but Rand Paul is handing it over the Dems tied up with a nice bow. McConnell is looking more inept all the time.

Posted by: john7 | May 21, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

there is no telling when his purist- ideology could potentially threaten any of the protections that guard our rights.
how can moderate republicans tolerate this?

how can a sane republican stand by silently at this time?
it is very difficult to believe that
the world-view of rand paul is the world-view that a reasonable republican wishes for the future of his children.

Posted by: jkaren | May 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

there is no telling when his purist- ideology could potentially threaten any of the protections that guard our rights.
how can moderate republicans tolerate this?

how can a sane republican stand by silently at this time?
it is very difficult to believe that
the world-view of rand paul is the world-view that a reasonable republican wishes for the future of his children.

Posted by: jkaren | May 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I am sure Rand Paul is a smart man and going forward he will learn the game of 'being in lime light and using that to achieve something without too much of a collateral damage'.

But his start is not got. Same way Palin's start was tumultuous, these folks are not able to handle the sudden public backing / support. (Contrast to that Barack Hussain Obama built his ability to handle people pressure over the period of 18 months to 24 months, besides being a cooler head.)

Apart from Civil Rights controversy, Paul is talking 'it is un-American' for Obama to crack a whip on BP. Does he not understand as Tom Friedman says 'Conservatives for OPEC / Conservatives for Big Oil' will not be a catchy slogan? (Tom's other comment was - "Shill baby, shill"; quite fantastic.)

As Joe Klein says, slowly these Tea Party folks will understand that it is one thing to provoke people until you reach the top, but it is completely another thing to be able to stay there. The tiger Tea Party is riding - it is not easy.

As others have commented, like how it is important what happens in the 'opening movements' of your political life (say that new Dave & Nick show in London); it will be interesting how Paul handles the lime light he has got. So far, he is fumbling and creating more problems for himself.

Posted by: umesh409 | May 21, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Paul's evasions suggest at a minimum that he has little confidence that Kentucky voters actually support his honestly held views. That's problematic for him from an electoral perspective, but that's part of the reason that we have elections and campaigns.

Voters have a right to know whether or not a representative actually shares their own interests broadly defined, or whether the representative will simply enact policies on the basis of his own narrow views.

In the specific case of the BP oil spill, it's pretty clear that Paul's views are unlikely to find favor with anyone but the executives at BP.

For a time there was undoubtedly some segment of the population that would reward him simply for his willingness to speak the truth as he saw it. On some level that's a rare quality in a politician and one that deserves some degree of admiration. Voters have a right to know how a politician will vote on issues of consequence.

In his newest incarnation, however, he seems to be compromising even that trait. It's hard to see how his appeal won't ultimately be limited to the bedrock of support that he already has. Hopefully, for Paul, the seniors in his coalition remain ignorant of his views on social security and Medicare.

Posted by: JPRS | May 21, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse


You're right. Paul SHOULD answer these questions.

just for curiousity sake since Paul won't recuse himself from these issues should they come up for a vote, in your mind should Kagan answer questions about how she'd rule when confirmed to the Supreme Court on issues like abortion, gun rights, gay marriage etc?

Posted by: visionbrkr | May 21, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Paul supports this (in)famous clause:

"No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed [by Congress]"

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Paul's biggest problem in Kentucky may ultimately wind up being on gun rights and not civil rights. Following his interview with Maddow, it was hard to notice much other than his extremist positions on civil rights legislation, but in that very same interview he drew comparisons to gun rights that will be extremely unpopular with Kentucky conservative voters (at least if people realize what it was he actually was arguing).

I explain his dilemma in detail here:

Posted by: thefourthbranchcom | May 21, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Rand becomes more of a coward with each hour that passes.

Ron Paul has a ton of crazy ideas, but I always appreciated the fact that he served them up "straight, no chaser" even when running for President of the United States. I have to believe that Ron must be a little bit disappointed by Rand's unwillingness to stand proudly and proclaim his beliefs.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I've just heard that Rand Paul has cancelled a Meet The Press interview on Sunday. Only the 3rd time in 62 years that a guest has backed out.

Profile In Courage / NOT!

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 21, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

This is Ron Paul, on Meet The Press, handling the very same topic that his son has fumbled so badly. Notice how relaxed and direct he is in making the Libertarian case against the Civil Rights Act:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about race, because I, I read a speech you gave in 2004, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. And you said this: "Contrary to the claims of" "supporters of the Civil Rights Act of" '64, "the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of" '64 "increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty." That act gave equal rights to African-Americans to vote, to live, to go to lunch counters, and you seem to be criticizing it.

REP. PAUL: Well, we should do, we should do this at a federal level, at a federal lunch counter it'd be OK or for the military. Just think of how the government, you know, caused all the segregation in the military until after World War II. But when it comes, Tim, you're, you're, you're not compelled in your house to invade strangers that you don't like. So it's a property rights issue. And this idea that all private property is under the domain of the federal government I think is wrong. So this--I think even Barry Goldwater opposed that bill on the same property rights position, and that--and now this thing is totally out of control. If you happen to like to smoke a cigar, you know, the federal government's going to come down and say you're not allowed to do this.

MR. RUSSERT: But you would vote against...

REP. PAUL: So it's...

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations. It just happens, Tim, that I get more support from black people today than any other Republican candidate, according to some statistics. And I have a great appeal to people who care about personal liberties and to those individuals who would like to get us out of wars. So it has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights.

Posted by: Patrick_M | May 21, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

To make laws disallowing one set of people hurting another set of people, we have to make ethical or moral judgment calls as to whether a certain expression of one set of people hurting another set of people crosses the line from ethical or moral acceptability to ethical or moral unacceptability so much that it crosses the line from legal acceptability to legal unacceptability.

With respect to those like Rand Paul who want the power to make, amend, and repeal laws and regulations, we voters have the right to make some ethical or moral judgment calls regarding these candidates' views.

For instance, the majority of people in this society decided that there are many expressions of private discrimination that cross these above lines. Libertarians say otherwise, that no expression of private discrimination crosses these lines. This has implications that are ethical or moral and that tell us what the intentions of libertarians are with respect to making, amending, or repealing laws and regulations.

This is not about personally attacking candidates. It's instead about whether we want to give a candidate the power to make, amend, and repeal laws and regulations.

We voters have the right to make these judgments especially when those who want such power like Rand Paul recently refuse to be or refuse to continue to be up front and specific about their intentions with respect to what they would do with such power and let the voter marketplace decide.

Posted by: Keefanda | May 22, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Shanghai! As Shanghai is my second home (with DC as my first), I think I can help. For great tapas and cocktails, you must go to Azul--the mainstay of local restauranteur Eduardo Vargas. It's got lots of great vegetarian options for you to try! You can find it at 18 Dongping Lu, near Hengshan Lu
东平路18号, 近衡山路. For reservations, call 6433 1172.

Or, for delicious Shanghainese cuisine in an authentic environment, hit up Yuan Yuan at 201 Xingguo Lu, near Tai'an Lu
兴国路201号, 近泰安路
Phone: 6433 9123.

Finally, if you feel the need for great dim sum on a Sunday morning--loud clattering silverware and all--go to Din Tai Feng. It's located in the mall area of the Xintiandi district. Normally I avoid Xintiandi--it's a super expensive tourist trap. But Din Tai Feng is the best.


Posted by: celdred | May 23, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

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