A Defense of Erick's Endorsement of Rand Paul

While I as a libertarian Republican applaud and welcome Erick Erickson’s endorsement of Dr. Paul (1, 2) I realize that it has raised a few eyebrows here at Red State.

I will lay out the case for Rand Paul over his opponent and try to allay qualms fellow RedStaters may have in supporting Dr. Paul.

Some Background (Feel free to skip this section if movement history is boring to you)

Principled conservatives have always had philosophical disagreements. While most movement conservatives have adopted the free market agenda foreign policy has remained a point of disagreement. This has been the case since and Kirk and Nisbet in their dissents against various approaches in the Cold War. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union political conservatives in America mostly became focused on a free market domestic agenda. Gingrich & Co even railed against Clinton’s involvement in Somalia and the Balkans (while upholding the status quo on other interventions in the Middle East) Sean Hannity’s statements here and this clip of President Bush reflect the consensus among mainstream conservatives in the 90’s. George Bush ran on a “humble foriegn policy” against John McCain and drew conservative icons such as Jack Kemp into his camp: “McCain is a war maker, and I’m a peacemaker, so is George Bush. McCain would be too dangerous as president.”

9/11and Iraq

The horror of the 9/11 attacks demanded a response and even non-interventionists like Ron Paul– despite his constitutional qualms against an open ended war power for an the executive power– voted for the authorization of the use of force in Afghanistan. Iraq didn’t have the same unanimity.

Even at the height of the run up to the Iraq invasion 21% of Republicans opposed the use of troops to remove Saddam Hussein with 8% unsure. Luminaries such as Jack Kemp, Brent Scowcroft, Dick Armey and others opposed the invasion.

The Case for Constitutional Conservatism

I’ve focused above on foreign policy because that is where the chief source of disagreement is. As Phillip Klein  of American Spectator (and no fan of the elder Paul) observed “It’s true that on social issues and national security matters, there are lots of divisions between conservatives and libertarians, but when it comes to economic issues and free markets, there is less daylight.”

Yet while the GOP brooks disagreement on the settled free-market agenda it has been hard pressed to allow such disagreement on foreign policy issues that were only ten years ago considered mainstream Republican positions. In our current Senate Caucus the 21%-29% that opposed/were unsure of the Iraq invasion a mere month before it began would amount to 8-12 out of the current 40 Republican Senate Seats.  And that’s just within the GOP caucus… a recent survey shows that the American people as a whole are increasingly “isolationist”

Compare the tolerance of the GOP and RedState towards those who out of a conservative conviction and worldview opposed the Iraq intervention to those like Snowe/Specter/Graham who are merely angling for political expedience. The contrast is large and lamentable.

But why Rand Paul over his current opponent?

Undoubtedly many at Red State would prefer to have someone with their version of conservatism on both domestic matters and foreign policy. If this was the case with his opponent I’d have a tougher sell.

The Case against Trey Grayson

In an otherwise glowing piece in 2008 the Cincinnati Business Enquirer reveals some very liberal beliefs of Trey Grayson and sheds some light on who his establishment backers are. Keep in mind this came out during Obamamania where everyone and their uncle was saying the GOP needed to go left to win. This piece basically made that case for Grayson.

Grayson’s Liberal Beliefs

He only became a Republican during graduate school after supporting the big government Clinton and, conveniently, after the 1994 Republican Revolution. Rand Paul of course set up the anti-tax “Taxpayers United” at the time and was voting in Republican primaries.

Most troubling: “Grayson went on to attend Harvard, majoring in government and becoming involved almost immediately in Harvard’s prestigious Institute of Politics. There, Grayson developed his conviction that government’s role should be to help solve society’s problems and that it often takes stepping across party lines to do it.” Emphasis mine.

What kind of conservative proclaims “his conviction it’s government’s role to solve society’s problems and that it often takes stepping across party lines to do it”???

More evidence of his liberalism is the undisputed fact that he recently keynoted a Global Warming Presentation. The presentation by definition assumed that Global Warming is happening and that humans could do something about reversing it i.e. “how Kentucky can respond to the challenge of global warming and climate change.” Wherever you stand on the debate there’s no question such a presentation was geared toward intervention of some form by the government. The hosts of the event were campus environmental activists and the event itself was part of a national effort coordinated by the hard left advocacy group Focus the Nation.

More troubling is his Lindsey Graham-like behavior of trying to sound like one thing to conservatives and then another to liberal reporters. After hearing of his speech on coal the local (and liberal) Page One Kentucky website remarks in a post entitled “Trey Grayson: Still Pretending to be Conservative” that his current statements are “Quite a far cry from his private stance of saying King Coal has a stranglehold on Kentucky legislators” and that the “real Trey who happens to be level-headed and intelligent” about job-killing enviro-wacko policies. And finally watch the following dance Grayson engages in with a Kentucky Herald-Leader reporter:

The group faced a similar challenge with a statement regarding global warming, which the party’s position statement refers to as “climate change.”

“For me the terms are interchangeable,” Grayson said. But for others in the party the term “global warming” isn’t acceptable. “I think the distinction some people make is that they aren’t fully convinced that maybe we’re not warming,” he said. “I don’t think there’s skepticism that something’s going on, which is why the climate change phrase is OK with them.”

He distances himself–in embarrassment–about he and the GOP not being a part of those “wing-nut deniers” to the reporter and comes out as a global warmer. Combined with his previous calls it’s obvious he wants intervention in some way but outside of his earlier presentation we don’t know how much. Basically the Lindsey Graham position.

Grayson’s rise

Trey Grayson basically got his start like any typical career politician. In his case he got a head-start due to his politically-connected banker father who was(is?) a Democratic fundraiser. Again from the earlier 2008 piece, “[Grayson] tapped into the strong network of business associates and contacts his dad had made as a longtime political fundraiser” and that network which launched his career in which he “raised more than $1 million for his re-election bid last year – an unheard of sum for a down-ticket statewide race like his”. If you have any doubt about this guy as a typical special-interest beholden career politician you need only look at his attachment (at-the-hip) to the McConnell Political Machine.

His patron McConnell is one of the largest porkers in Congress and will be more so if he is re-elected minority/majority leader. His behavior has already led this highest ranked GOP leader to be one of “C.R.E.W’s TOP 15 most corrupt” (the majority, eight, on the list were Democrats) and C.R.E.W. provided the detailed proof his insider dealings. His home-state paper conducted an expose of the quid-pro-quo machine McConnell has built. Not only did McConnell vote–and lobby for as Minority leader– the TARP bailout he was one of the minority of Republicans who voted to continue it in April. McConnell has leveraged his questionable fund-raising machine and his rising stature as possible future Majority leader to aid Grayson on a 9/23 “bailout ball” and another one on 12/7 in NYC.

Grayson has already demonstrated his loyalty to his patron by going after Rand Paul stating he would “absolutely, 100% will vote to keep” the tainted McConnell as GOP leader in opposition to a reformer like Jim DeMint when Paul refused to commit. This is an obvious statement to special interests that he, Trey Grayson, is willing to bring in the wasteful pork for Kentucky special interests at the expense of taxpayers in Kentucky and across the rest of the country and Rand Paul is not (he’s taken a personal no earmarks pledge).

In the current kleptocratic environment banks and other special interests are clamoring for a handout from the government. Banks in particular are already lobbying for wholesale theft in the form of mortgage guarantees. If you don’t think the special interests know their man then ask Barney Frank.

In conclusion, I think a long time Kentucky lobbyist and Democratic friend of Grayson’s describes his approach to politics best:

A staunch Democrat, McBrayer said Grayson also must be careful to remain as nonpartisan as possible in a state that’s still heavily Democratic, despite Kentucky’s tendency to vote Republican in federal elections.

“If you get wrapped in the arms of partisanship, people tend to turn you off,” he said. “He’s got a lot of ability and a lot of talent. Just don’t let others talk him into a no-stakes poker game when he’s got $100.”

Now that Obamamania has subsided Grayson’s natural leanings as a RINO aren’t so politically advantageous and he’s moving to the right as any good career politician and “Harvard student of government” would do.

The Case for Rand Paul

Rand Paul is a career doctor and not a politician. While Grayson was supporting Clinton Dr. Paul was setting up anti-tax groups to hold legislators accountable. In addition to foreswearing earmarks, and pledging to introduce term limits, Rand Paul has stated he will add an amendment to every unbalanced budget– making specific spending cuts to make it balanced.

According to the Senate Conservatives Fund scorecard Dr. Paul would have scored a 96% or perhaps 100%. The only questionable ones are his opposition to the initial invasion of Iraq and federalization of law enforcement that would occur with a Parental Notification amendment.

Dr. Paul is totally independent of the McConnell machine. His funding comes almost solely from small ideological donors from around the country. Rand Paul literally received 54.2% of his total funds from individuals contributing less than $200. His opponent received only an embarrassing and paltry 7.9% of his total from individuals contributing less than $200. Once in the Senate he’ll be able to expand this donor base and become mostly self-funding in the future. This saves conservative groups and even the Republican Party in general the burden of re-electing him so such resources can be put into other conservative candidates.

Dr. Paul currently has–and will be able to expand as Senator– a national activist small government base that no candidate in history will bring to the Senate. The Ron Paul activists are who started the tea parties and health care activism at the town halls. If you don’t believe that was the case… imagine how annoying “Paulbots” on the internet actually are in person.

There is a world of difference between Rand Paul and Trey Grayson. Dr. Paul has built his private medical practice and pays taxes. Grayson’s weaved a political career that is based on consuming Dr. Paul’s and other’s taxes. Grayson will be another Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul will be a Jim DeMint. Rand Paul will bring in an army of activists to overturn the special interests while Grayson/McConnell will only further entrench them.

This is the best political environment for fiscal conservatives in a decade. 2010 is also the year of the citizen-legislator. Once Dr. Paul receives the GOP nomination he will sail through the Kentucky general election against either of the two uninspiring Democratic career politicians in a conservative year.