Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gets away, rhetorically speaking, with murder in large part because media and political opponents who know better consider him to be a crank. Fact checkers can only call “pants on fire” so many times where the junior senator from Kentucky is concerned without neglecting the rest of the political fabricators. They therefore let a lot of bizarre and downright false utterances go by the wayside. He was at it again on Sunday.
If you recall he previously said that extending unemployment benefits would be a “disservice” to the unemployed. You can debate that proposition (Does the availability of minimal benefits cause people to slow down their job search?), but it ostensibly was based on the desire to attend to the needs of the jobless. But no more of that, Rand Paul now says. It’s simply a matter of money — taxpayer money. He’s decided that if we “pay for it” (i.e. cut elsewhere) we can extend the benefits. Won’t the jobless then be disserved — or was his previous opposition based on phony sentiments about what is good for the poor?
If he is really concerned about the cost of unemployment benefits (about $25 billion for three months), then he’s fighting over nickels in the couch. The debt is over $17 trillion. (This is akin to his obsession over foreign aid spending, which is about 1 percent of federal spending.) It is hard to know whether Rand Paul is an opportunist, uniformed or both.
Then there were his remarks about Edward Snowden. Rand Paul fancies the treasonous disclosure of vital national security data as heroic in some sense. He’s compared Snowden to Martin Luther King, Jr. (who unlike Snowden did not flee the U.S. for a dictatorship but nobly undertook punishment in jail and ultimately gave his life to protest unjust laws). Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) appearing with Rand Paul had it right, both in urging Snowden to return to face trial for his crimes and in objecting to Rand Paul’s plea bargaining on behalf of the fugitive. It is not uncommon these days that liberal Democrats have a firmer grasp of the law and of our national security than does Rand Paul. He is perhaps one of the only Republicans whose foreign policy would be worse than Obama’s.
On Sunday, Rand Paul dug his hole in logic and law still deeper, declaring that Snowden “revealed great abuses of our government, of our intelligence community.”
This is plain false. The NSA review panel after an exhaustive look found there were no abuses nor illegality. This is what makes its recommended changes so foolish and unnecessary; the panel is playing to the hysterics and ignoramuses, which unfortunately include some lawmakers, to the detriment of national security. Again, one has to question whether Rand Paul is confused, bent on misleading the public or both. (His flippant suggestion that Snowden’s offense is equivalent to DNI James Clapper’s less than candid testimony — and hence they should “share a cell” — provides frightful insight into his judgment.)
Rand Paul, if he were not a U.S. senator and a 2016 presidential aspirant, would be an ignorable eccentric. Alas, he is in a high office seeking an even higher one. The media and politicians on both sides of the aisle should forcefully rebut his nonsense, which is already doing damage to our national security and the cause of sober, good governance.