March 20, 2013
Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at CPAC. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Renegade, rebel, Republican-ish Rand Paul is an anomaly right now, with the two major parties as sharply and bitterly divided as they are. The senator isn’t a moderate, and he’s not exactly in the middle, but he takes a bit from column A and a bit from column B. Which makes him a bit of a rule-breaker and a bit of a rock star. While most of Congress exists on one spectrum — super lefty to super righty — and mostly does what party leaders tell them to, Paul (R-Ky.) does his own thing, whether it’s actual honest-to-goodness, old-tyme, take-to-the-diaper filibustering, or breaking with his party on immigration, drone warfare and gay marriage.

As Dana Milbank points out today, with all the complaints about partisanship and binary thinking in Congress, and with all the talk about how the Republican Party needs to reach out to a larger group of not-necessarily-Republican-orthodox people, Paul is . . . interesting. Refreshing! Mysterious. Everything missing from national politics. Could he be the missing talisman that reshapes the Republican Party, attracting liberals and independents? Can he turn being interesting into being electable? Milbank thinks . . . maybe. Maybe he’s thinking of getting on the Randwagon!

Here in the PostScript bunker we don’t hear much from moderates, so it’s a perfect arena for Paul to audition to be a serious presidential candidate. How do the column-A types feel about being around half of Paul’s buffet plate? Can we call him Realignment Rand?

Iconoblaster might follow Paul because neither major party is offering disarmament and drastically curtailed foreign policy:

I wish Dana would reconsider his disapproval of Rand’s “isolationist” foreign policy positions. I do not believe that maintenance of a huge Army and Air Force, spread all over the world, is either useful or necessary to deal with the problems we face in the world today. We have nothing to gain and much to lose by wading into every regional conflict that flares up, anywhere, and the cost of all this contributes significantly to the expenses that ARE threatening our prosperity. Rand’s contention that we should bring home our troops and mind our own business makes a good deal of sense to me.

cliffc1 thinks Paul’s stances are interesting but can’t survive on their own in the face of the huge power structures of the political parties:

I agree with the article. Paul certainly has moved to the front of a very weak and splintered GOP, however, will a stand with Paul constitute a stand with the tea party and the current Republican agenda? Paul is starting to show he is somewhat independent and can stand on his own, but for how long? The GOP has a way of tearing down their own.

patriot17 thinks the column-A approach is too alienating to both columns:

I find the younger Paul to be pretty much the same as his father. I sometimes agree strongly with them both, when I don’t disagree strongly with them. There’s no middle ground with them; they are either saying things that I wish other politicians would say or they are saying things that make me think they need anti-psychotic medication.

asmith1 cautiously supports Paul a bit, but wants more moderation (!):

Rand is a libertarian — not as wild and crazy as his Dad, but still a little too far out there with his ideas of what government is about. Like his Dad, he has a strong following by younger Americans who are tired of the Government’s intrusion into their personal lives, and taxing them til it hurts to make that possible.
Rand has so some good ideas. Tempered with input from the moderates, he might actually be on to something that could turn our country around.

iseethroughthis has one further caveat:

If Rand Paul will drop the anti-abortion rhetoric then he gets my support.

gardelito isn’t buying any of Paul, and doesn’t think many voters will, either:

Let’s see, Rand Paul was against giving citizenship to children born in the US if their parents were illegal immigrants. For a guy who doesn’t shut up about the Constitution, it was kind of strange that he maintained this position as that would violate the 14th amendment, which is pretty straightforward. Paul was a raving opponent of immigration reform until it was politically expedient to be for it.
These are a few other of the Senator’s brilliant ideas:
He claimed that supporting the right to health care coverage for everybody was basically the same as supporting slavery.
He wouldn’t have voted for the Civil Rights Act.
He wants to go back to the gold standard.
He wants to cripple the EPA.
He wants the US to exit the UN.
He wants a balanced budget amendment.
I guess this is the so anticipated transformation of the Republican Party! By all means, let Paul be the Republican nominee in 2016! No matter who the Democratic Party runs with, it will be a landslide.

And finally, two commenters weigh in that it’s not necessarily disagreeing with Paul’s positions that will kill him with partisans, but that he agrees with the other side‘s positions:

Conservator

I’m sure Sen. Paul will not be happy with Dana’s endorsement, even if he’s only “Standing with Rand on one leg only.” If progressives support Paul, it will only lead to another GOP presidential candidate.

Ralph-FL

This column is a kiss of death. When the base learns that a WaPo liberal likes Rand they will RINO him right out of the party. I see a third party candidacy in his future. He will split the right wing and the Democrats will win easily in 2016.

At this point, the only thing the parties might be able to agree about is that they can’t support anyone who agrees with both of them.