The Daily Banter's Bob Cesca recognizes Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky as "an opportunist and will say just about anything in order to sucker either the far-right and the far-left into supporting him."
But the Washington establishment is more likely to be suckered by Paul than are movement liberals, such as when the Senator recently wrote in Time magazine
If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.
The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.
The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action....
When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz- who nearly defines "inside the Beltway"- claims that conservative critics of the police response to events in Ferguson, Missouri
reflect a shift away from the usual support and sympathy conservatives typically show for law enforcement in such situations. Although possibly unique to the circumstances of the events in Missouri this week, the changing reaction on the right is clear evidence of a rising and more vocal libertarian wing within the Republican Party.
No better sign of that came Thursday than in an article by Sen. Rand Paul.
There are few things more typical of "village behavior," as Digby often has labeled it, than excitement over Repubs who utter statements suggesting they don't dislike people simply because of their ethnicity. Balz continues "Paul also bluntly pointed to the role that race continues to play in law enforcement. 'Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,' he wrote."
Michael Luciano, like Cesca blogging at The Daily Banter, admiringly notes "Paul has been one of the few Republicans in Congress who’s taken an active role in crafting legislation to mitigate the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He’s also faced pressure from the Right for his openness to compromise on immigration reform because, you know, Mexicans."
More likely, Paul has been criticized by the right because he has contended "if you want immigration reform, there has to be openness to compromise." Lacking detail, that is meaningless to the left but poison to the right, to which compromise is a four letter word (another four letter word, completely unrelated, in video below). It's only the mainstream media, lacking an ideological compass,which finds the notion of "compromise" without specifics so alluring.
Even The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn was impressed, maintaining "The politician who gave the strongest condemnation of police tactics in Ferguson, Missouri, may not have been President Obama or any of the other liberal Democrats you might have expected. It was probably Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky."
Unimpressed by Paul, Cesca notes that in April, 2013 the junior Senator from Kentucky had stated
I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him…
If there’s a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I’m not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used, I’m all for law enforcement.
Doubting Paul's sincerity, Cesca argues
Rand Paul is against the militarization of the police — but he supports using $12 million predator drones to annihilate liquor store thieves in Anytown, USA — but he also opposes using drones against American citizens. If you believe he’s sincere on any of these positions, I have some robot insurance to sell you.
Again, he will say anything depending on which way the political winds are blowing.
Moreover, beyond the headlines he provoked, Paul hints at the "crony capitalism" Republicans periodically trot out cynically to pander to the populist instincts of the GOP base. He criticizes "big government," which
has been at the heart of the problem. Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies- where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.
This is boilerplate conservatism, blaming "Washington" and the federal government for the overreach of municipal government(s) or the private sector. Still, if Rand Paul believes that gets him anywhere closer to the GOP presidential nomination, he is sadly mistaken. Despite his (Ayn) Randian sentiments, and sincere or not, Paul has criticized law enforcement, raised the specter of racism in American society, and implied that liberals can't be simply wished away.
The Kentucky Senator will dial back those sentiments, which otherwise would doom him to failure far before Cleveland in July, 2016. But the die has been cast. As Steve M. remarks "Buh-bye, Rand. I really thought you had a shot at the nomination, but you're toast. And if you don't believe me, wait till Monday when Pope Limbaugh excommunicates you from conservatism for that Time op-ed."