Precriminations: Conservatives Make Case Against Rand Paul

Rising dissent against the latest GOP firebrand

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Rand Paul's surprise, sweeping, Tea Party-backed victory in Kentucky's Republican senate primary made him an instant hero among conservatives. But his disastrous week in the national spotlight has soured some of his support on the right. To be sure, many conservative pundits and GOP officials remain supportive. But in possible anticipation of a full meltdown, some conservatives and Republicans are now using much more restrained language when discussing Paul, or attacking him outright. Is this yet another way Rand Paul is like Sarah Palin? Here's what the critics are saying.

  • GOP Party Leaders 'Back Away' Talking Points Memo's Christina Bellantoni reports, "top Republicans in Washington did not seem eager to defend the party's newly crowned nominee, distancing themselves from Paul's remarks about the Civil Rights Act." She quotes RNC chair Michael Steele as "the harshest." She adds, "Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on Meet the Press yesterday that Paul is a 'novice.'"
  • His Ideas Are 'Self-Destructive' The New York Times' Ross Douthat calls Paul's philosophy "self-marginalizing, and self-destructive. Like many groups that find themselves in intellectually uncharted territory, they have trouble distinguishing between ideas that deserve a wider hearing and ideas that are crankish or worse."
  • Bloggers Condemn Paul's Civil Rights Screw-Up  Conservative bloggers are taking Paul to task for his controversial remarks about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Commentary's Peter Wehner blames Paul for igniting the controversy and doubts the veracity of his apology: "one cannot help believing that Paul is embracing a view he doesn't really believe. Of course, he wouldn't be the first candidate for Congress to do such a thing." The American Conservative's Daniel Larison compares Paul to "all the [Bush-era] people who helped wreck entire countries and provided the justification for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people." Allahpundit sighs, "I guess he'll follow the Palin playbook going forward, avoiding hostile media on grounds that they'll never give him a fair shake. But Palin at least has the good sense to avoid the terrible optics of scheduling a big interview and then pulling the plug after a rough couple of days. Not Paul." Even fellow libertarian Brink Lindsay of the Cato Institute declared, "I think Rand Paul is wrong about the Civil Rights Act."
  • Wall Street Journal Condemns Paul's 'Bad History' The newspaper writes in an editorial, "it's important to understand why Mr. Paul was wrong even on his own libertarian terms. ... he was wrong on the Constitutional and historic merits. ... He owes his supporters, and his own libertarian principles, better than that."
  • Paul Gigot: Paul 'Is Wrong' The conservative Wall Street Journal columnist said on Meet The Press, "he's wrong about the, he's wrong about the Civil Rights Act, and he shouldn't get into debate about 46-year-old settled law that is a--there's a consensus and support of in this country. ... The mistake he made was to take the focus, political focus, away from all that and say, 'Oh, well, we're--you know, let's have a libertarian seminar about a 46-year-old law.'"
  • George Will: Paul Is 'Frivolous' Speaking on This Week, the conservative Washington Post columnist said, "There is no reason to believe Rand Paul is a racist. There is now reason to believe that he is frivolous. ... The simple fact is that in 1964, we, as a nation, repealed one widely-exercised right - the right of private property owners to serve on public accommodations whom they want - and replaced it with another right, that is the right of the entire American public to use public accommodations."

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