Before I explain the title of this entry, first let me clarify a few things. On policy, I agree with Rand Paul on 99% of the issues.
In fact, I think I agree with him on policy more than any other candidate, with his stance on Cuba being an exception. So this isn’t about policy. This is about what it takes to be president and whether or not our current republican candidates have the necessary character traits to be good presidents.
That being said, that’s why this interview with Paul really gave me cause for concern. Here are the reasons why:
1)I’m not saying a politician shouldn’t fight at all. Reagan was a warrior for the conservative cause, but a happy warrior. A smart happy warrior knows when to pick his fights and when to stay silent, and when they do fight, they don’t get personal or petty.
2)This is a perfect example of when to avoid a fight, or at least avoid getting personal, cause I think this issue isn’t even in the top ten most important issues in the minds of gop primary voters, and by the time the primaries roll around nobody’s even gonna be thinking about this issue.
3)This is where Paul’s lack of leadership experience is really showing itself to us, because someone who’s governed or led a group of people knows how to handle criticism without coming off as petty or insecure. But it’s the combination of Paul’s lack of such experience and big ego that really scares me. If a candidate just lacks that experience he’ll make mistakes for sure, but he won’t get into petty fights if his ego is in check and he’s confident in his knowledge and identity. But if he also has a big ego or insecurities along with the lack of experience, then he’ll go out on a limb and feel the need to respond any time someone decides to personally attack him, whether it’s a member of his own party or a known enemy. That will hurt him a lot in the eyes of voters because it makes him look unstable and immature, which is the last thing we want in a president. Also, it gives the impression that he’s in the race more for his own ambition than because he has a vision for the country and is trying to do what’s best for the american people.
4)It’s clear Paul got into this fight with Rubio not because of policy differences, but because Rubio said he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It shows his ego is too big for his own good, cause he couldn’t handle an attack on his knowledge of this topic, even though it’s clear Rubio knows more about this topic than Paul does. If you compare Rubio’s interviews to Paul’s on this topic, Rubio gives all kinds of details to back up his points, whereas Paul gives none and speaks in generalities, showing he hasn’t studied the issue, yet is somehow offended when he’s called out for that.
5)Paul is showing a lot of the same traits Obama has shown, which is a problem. For example, this isn’t the first time he’s shown himself to have really thin skin. The most notorious example being his reaction when various pundits and media people called him out for omitting some references his staff got from wikipedia in various speeches and op-eds he wrote: What we are going to do from here forward, if it will make people leave me the hell alone, is we’re going to do them like college papers,” he said. “We’re going to try to put out footnotes.” He said that “we have made mistakes,” but that they had “never been intentional. . . . .”It’s also what people hate about politics, and it’s why, frankly, members of my family are not too interested in politics, period, or wanting me to do more of this,” he said. “To tell you the truth, people can think what they want, I can go back to being a doctor anytime, if they’re tired of me. I’ll go back to being a doctor, and I’ll be perfectly content.”
Now does this sound like a president to you? Can you imagine Reagan making these statements, or even George W. Bush for that matter? And he’s just a senator, so if he wants people to leave him alone now for something so trivial as not making proper footnotes in speeches, how’s he gonna handle the criticism of the monumental decisions he’ll have to make as president? There’s infinitely more pressure on that level than there is in being a senator. People never “leave you alone” in politics, that’s just the nature of politics, and as president that’s amplified by a factor of 1000, cause all the eyes of the nation and at times the entire world are on you, just waiting for you to make a mistake.
Some of the traits Paul has shown are the exact opposite of the traits I’m looking for in a president. If you can’t handle an attack from a fellow republican, how are you gonna handle attacks from democrats, the media, and foreign leaders?
6)We need a candidate who’s honest with the american people, but who is also a savvy politician, and you can’t be a savvy politician when you let personal and petty fights distract you from staying on message and focusing on your own narrative. Allahpundit over at Hot Air is baffled by why Paul decided to engage in this particular fight with Rubio considering how irrelevant it will be and the fact that most republicans are with Rubio on this. But my answer to him is what I just described, which is that the second Paul heard Rubio imply that he’s ignorant, his ego simply couldn’t handle it, and he abandoned all of his talking points and went in for the attack on Rubio.
7)There was a smarter way for Paul to deal with this intra-party conflict. For example, he could’ve actually shown some humility and said something like, “I respectully disagree with my colleague Sen Rubio, who clearly knows a lot about this subject and is passionate about it, and for good reason. I admire and respect his passion about this, and I don’t claim to be an expert on Cuba, but there are a few things I do know about it, and here’s why I believe our previous Cuba policy was a failure and needed to be changed (gives plenty of details and facts to back up your points). Taking the moral high ground rarely fails in politics, and humility goes a long way with voters in terms of them perceiving you as an honorable and trustworthy politician. Reagan was a master at self-deprecation (check out his youtube clips) and being humble when humility was called for, and that’s something all of our current candidates should learn from, especially Paul.
8)Not only does Paul lack leadership experience, but he also lacks political experience, having only been in the senate for a few years before basically running for president unofficially. Again, the parallels with Obama are impossible to ignore. Generally, the best presidents have been governors or at least had some kind of previous leadership experience. Check out this list of past US presidents who were senators. I ignore all of the ones before the 1940s because those were different times and men back then were generally raised with better values and character than men who grew up after that time, and generally speaking there just weren’t nearly as many leadership opportunities back in the time of Lincoln.
So if you look at all the senators who became president after 1940, it’s a pretty bad list. Some of the worst and most corrupt presidents are on that list, including Nixon, LBJ, and Obama of course. It’s hard to argue that even one was a good president, but even if you do make that argument, all of them were senators or in some other office longer than Paul was before they ran for president.
9)Finally- “I won’t stand for it” is Paul’s response to being called out for his lack of knowledge on this subject. Really [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]? You won’t stand for it when someone personally attacks you? If that’s the precedent you’re setting then you’re gonna be getting into a lot of political fights, cause the kind of personal attack that Rubio engaged in with you happens all the time in politics on both sides of the aisle. Plus, in this case it wasn’t even that bad, he just said you don’t know what you’re talking about. If that’s all it takes for someone to rile you up and get a response from you, then you’re never gonna be able to stay on message during the primary season when these sorts of attacks are commonplace.
10)Last but not least and just for the record, it might seem like I’m being harsh on Paul here, but I still am more likely to vote for him than any other candidate because I agree with his policies and ideas, I just think he’ll have a problem implementing them as president if he can’t handle conflict better. Furthermore, this is also why I don’t think Rubio would make a good president. It wasn’t necessary to say Paul didn’t know what he’s talking about, that was petty, and since Rubio actually does know what he’s talking about on this subject, he could’ve engaged in an intellectual debate with Paul about this subject without getting personal.
Update- And it continues . . . . .http://twitchy.com/2014/12/21/rand-paul-unleashes-harshest-attack-yet-on-marco-rubio/
Instead of knowing when to put down their weapons and end the fight, these two senators just escalate it even more. They’re proving the points I made in this diary. Looks like neither is mature or wise enough to let the other one say whatever he wants and not respond in kind. To every conservative who says we should ignore Paul’s personal weaknesses and vote for him because he has the right ideas and policies, I hope you look back and this diary entry during the primaries and remember what I said now. If Paul gets into petty fights and flames out towards the end, I would hate to say I told you so, which is why I’m warning everyone now- be aware of his weaknesses before you decide to vote for him, cause they might be too much to overcome. Take a long, hard look at other conservative candidates who do have experience, a thicker skin, and don’t get into petty fights before you pull the lever for Paul.