Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made some odd remarks about running for president.
As did former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, he has disclosed his wife is against a run for the presidency. Maybe that is being coy, but if he’s going to play coy he may well end up annoying supporters and donors who lose patience with him.
More disturbing is Paul’s confession that he doesn’t like being in the Senate. It “beats you down,” he says. This is remarkable. Four years of doing practically nothing but talking, with no legislative achievements and no mark on policy, and he’s already tuckered out? He sounds put-upon and already resigned to the institutional gridlock that hobbles the Senate — something, he by the way, has helped promote with filibusters, holds and general intransigence. This is the problem with senators in general — all talk, no results and no wherewithal.
In calling his varied critics “hacks” and “haters,” he sounds, frankly, a lot like the thin-skinned president. Neither, it seems, can imagine that earnest and informed opponents see things differently.
His remarks also raise the question whether he should run even for reelection. Surely others in Kentucky would enthusiastically embrace the job of U.S. senator. It is not clear whether Paul can cope with the demands of his present job, let alone a far more demanding one with exponentially more critics.
Perhaps other senators with presidential ambitions can make a stronger case for themselves, but one has to come back to the flock of governors who are accustomed to hurly-burly politics and manage to get things done. Jon Thompson, spokesman for the Republican Governors’ Association, remarks via e-mail, “A great comparison of study in Republican state governance vs. Democrat state governance is currently occurring in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and Pat Quinn’s Illinois. While the Republican governor in Wisconsin controls excessive spending, cuts taxes and implements pro-growth policies, the Democrat governor in Illinois continues to see his state spiral out of control and businesses bolt for greener pastures.” He points to Walker’s op-ed in the Chicago Tribune wherein Walker writes:
To put our fiscal house in order, we passed a law called Act 10 that ended collective bargaining for everything except base wages. We freed school districts from the stranglehold of collective bargaining rules — allowing them, for example, to buy health insurance on the open market and hire and fire teachers based on merit for the first time. Today, thanks to these reforms, our $3.6 billion deficit has become a $759 million surplus. School districts across Wisconsin have saved tens of millions of dollars, money they have used to offset state spending cuts and improve education, instead of closing schools and laying off teachers. Property taxes dropped for the first time in over a decade. Unemployment is down. Our bond rating is solid. Wisconsin’s pension system is the only one in the country that is fully funded. And we did it all while avoiding tax increases, cuts to programs like Medicaid, and mass layoffs of teachers and public workers.
Walker adds, “In Chief Executive magazine’s annual survey on the best and worst states for business, Wisconsin made the biggest jump of any state following our reforms, rising 24 points since my administration took office. By contrast, that same ranking saw Illinois drop 40 spots in five years. The Land of Lincoln, Chief Executive declared, is in a death spiral.”
The results, he points out, are stark: “In 2009, the unemployment rate in both states was above 9 percent. It has dropped to 6.5 percent in Wisconsin, while it is 8.9 percent in Illinois.”
Frankly, presented with flaky senators like Rand Paul and tested Republican governors, it’s hard to see why Republican primary voters wouldn’t take one of the latter. It’s a no-brainer.