Sen. Rand Paul’s “Southern Avenger” aide Jack Hunter resigned today after days of controversy swirled about the Republican senator’s office.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (James Crisp/Associated Press)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (James Crisp/Associated Press)

Hunter said it was his choice to go; Paul told the local press it was “mutual.” But the incident leaves a number of questions:

Why didn’t anyone find Hunter’s background concerning when he was hired?

Paul said it became a “distraction.” But was is appropriate to hire such a person to work in the Senate?

Does Paul embrace any of Hunter’s views, and if so, which ones?

If Paul rejects them, why not say so? Are their donors or supporters whom he fears offending?

Does Paul reject the pro-Confederacy segment of libertarians?

Why did it take so long for Hunter to go?

Whatever the answers, the episode demonstrated how amateurish the Rand Paul operation is. Top-flight organizations don’t hire people like Hunter; they get rid of them and renounce extremist, hateful view. If nothing else, Hunter certainly rekindled concerns Paul had tried to put to bed that he lacks judgment and/or is not a mainstream conservative.

Coincidentally, Paul was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National
Convention in Louisville, Ky., today. Ostensibly he was there to deliver a foreign policy speech. Unfortunately, his thoughts on foreign policy boil down to cutting foreign aid and bashing nonexistent forces who want to go to war all the time.

The bulk of his comments were on foreign aid. We get it; he wants to stop giving aid to people who hate America. I agree we need to start conditioning aid, but once we’ve pulled the trigger on aid, we may find ourselves less influential than before. Of course, nuance and degrees of gray don’t exist in the Paulite world, so he’d entirely cut off aid to countries who have mixed records

And he’d rather let Russia and Syria arm the jihadis than for us to try to identify more-favorable elements. (He has some bizarre notion that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad will be good for Christians.) There was one point where he slips, revealing a distasteful bias: “I, for one, will fight with every ounce of my energy to prevent American arms from being used against Christians!” I mean, shouldn’t we care about innocents of all religions?

In Egypt he was against giving arms to Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, and now he is against giving aid to those who kicked out the Muslim Brotherhood. So what is his end goal here?

His language reveals a blithe indifference to facts. For example, he bellows:

Even if you believe we should arm Islamic fighters in Syria, shouldn’t, at the very least, Congress vote on the matter?  The Constitution is very clear.  Congress is to declare war, not the president.

Nevertheless, President Obama is moving ahead with plans to get involved in the Syrian civil war, without the authorization of Congress.

How can we ask our brave men and women to fight against al-Qaeda in some countries and with al-Qaeda in other countries?

Who is talking about troops in Syria? How did he get from aid for rebels to fighting in a civil war?

The real problem with the aid shtick is that it is a minuscule part of foreign policy and betrays not an interest in the world but a determination to pander purely for domestic reasons. Does he care about Russia, China, Europe, Africa, etc.? One suspects he has few views or not one fit for public discussion.

He is also downright dishonest when he throws out lines to veterans like this: “No politician should lead this country who denies our armed services the weapons and technology to defend our great nation.” He is the guy who wants fewer troops and bases overseas and wants substantial cuts in defense. (How? Where?)

And the following is even more egregious: “An America that did not seek to become involved in every conflict of the world could take better care of our nation’s greatest resource—our soldiers, including improving a broken VA system and better overall healthcare for those who’ve served.” This is ludicrous. No elected politician I know of wants to get involved in every conflict, and whether we are fighting wars or not we have plenty of resources to reform the VA. He would pit current forces again veterans?

Ironically, Paul cites President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a model. His knowledge must be tissue-paper thin. Let’s skip over Ike’s leadership in WWII and NATO for the moment. (I don’t know whether Paul was in favor of WWII, but someone should ask.) Eisenhower wasn’t shy about using the CIA to further our national interests, including attempting to subvert governments. He kept the defense budget at about half of the federal budget. He funded Middle East allies as part of his Cold War strategy. He sent troops to Lebanon.  He maintained our defense of Taiwan and amply funded NATO. If this is Paul’s model, perhaps he isn’t so bad, you say. But in fact Eisenhower is good for a quote, as far as Paul is concerned, but the strategy that kept the peace and advanced U.S. interests is of little interest to him.

Paul can say he loves the troops from here to doomsday, but his actions and philosophy dictate policies that would leave us less safe and devote fewer resources to our armed services. A strong-on-defense conservative? Puleez. Who does he think he is fooling?

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.