Ross Douthat thinks Rand Paul doesn’t know when to shut up.
In an age of lockstep partisanship, there’s a lot to admire about this unusual constellation of ideas, and its sweeping critique of American politics as usual. There’s a reason that both Rand and Ron Paul have inspired so much visceral enthusiasm, especially among younger voters, while attracting an eclectic cross-section of supporters — hipsters and N.R.A. members, civil libertarians and Christian conservatives, and stranger bedfellows still.
The problem is that paleoconservatives are self-marginalizing, and self-destructive.
I was waiting for the other shoe to drop; for the usual “liberals do it, too” caveat that accompanies all the Beltway punditry, but no, he basically gives Dr. Paul and his father, Rep. Ron Paul, both barrels. The only time Mr. Douthat tries to weasel out is when he says that “[t]his persuasion shouldn’t be confused with the Tea Party movement, whose inchoate antideficit enthusiasms Paul rode to victory last Tuesday.” Nice try. Rand Paul is the biggest victory the Tea Party has scored so far — Scott Brown, the GOP senator from Massachusetts, is doing everything he can to distance himself from them — and he’s turning out to be a naive and stubborn iconoclast. Good going, teabaggers; he’s all yours.
It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Movements like the Tea Party have a short shelf life if they are so rigid and demanding of ideological purity that they can’t stand the thought of compromising for the sake of reality.