"Interventionist" is also used in the title of the column, and it doesn't strike us as having particularly positive connotations. Indeed, we're not aware of too many foreign policy hawks who use that word to describe themselves.
This might seem much ado about nothing, given that Paul is known to be less hawkish. He has also been critical of Rick Perry and Chris Christie on that count. But Paul has also long toed the line between the kind of non-interventionism championed by his father, Ron Paul, and a more middle-ground approach to foreign policy. And straying too far down the non-interventionist road risks folks invoking another i-word: "isolationism." It's a constant balancing act for Paul.
Bringing the word "interventionist" into the mix suggests that he is primed for this debate and is trying to set the terms -- or at least the terminology.
2) The turnabout here is striking. It's no surprise that Paul is a different kind of Republican on foreign policy, but check out the Democratic National Committee's response to his op-ed:
Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Paul. Last week he criticized American policy to the president of another country on foreign soil. This week he's blaming the Obama Administration for another nation's civil war. That type of “blame America” rhetoric may win Paul accolades at a conference of isolationists but it does nothing to improve our standing in the world. In fact, Paul's proposals would make America less safe and less secure.Simply put, if Rand Paul had a foreign policy slogan, it would be -- The Rand Paul Doctrine: Blame America. Retreat from the World.
MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin nailed it with this tweet:
That's basically true. And in fact, Republicans did use that same verbiage against Democrats who questioned the Iraq war during the 2004 campaign. In the space of one Associated Press story, in fact, three different high-ranking GOP campaign operatives used the "blame America" phrasing. And Republicans back then regularly used the word "retreat" to define Democrats' alternative approach to the war on terror.
It's still likely we'll never see a Clinton vs. Paul general election matchup in 2016. But the foreign policy dynamics of that race (which Paul can also use to differentiate himself in the GOP primary) would be absolutely fascinating.