Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Party of No

Via Vox Day, here's yet another major NY Times story (it's at the least the 3rd in six months) about the Kentucky GOP Senate primary race between professional Republican Trey Grayson and insurgent Rand Paul (son of guess who). Grayson is no moderate, yet he finds himself facing a strong challenge from his right. Predictably, the GOP establishment is rallying to Grayson's side, all making the same claim that Paul is "outside the Kentucky mainstream:" Testing The Influence of Tea Party in Kentucky

The prospect of a Paul victory scares some Republicans. Former Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed Mr. Grayson last month after conservatives in Washington circulated an e-mail message about what they called Dr. Paul’s “troubling” views on national security. Mr. Grayson’s supporters note that Dr. Paul once argued for closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and that he said detainees who cannot be convicted should be sent back to Afghanistan.

Charlie Cook, a nonpartisan political forecaster, and some of Mr. Grayson’s backers here say that if Dr. Paul wins the primary, Republicans could lose the seat in November — proving that Tea Party energy, generally thought to benefit Republicans, can hurt them, too.

Mr. Grayson argues that some of Dr. Paul’s ideas (getting rid of the Departments of Energy, Education and Commerce) are too “weird” for Kentucky. And in increasingly sharp ads, he argues that Dr. Paul is downright dangerous when it comes to foreign policy.

“Here’s a guy who is outside of the Republican mainstream,” Mr. Grayson said in an interview here.

Outside the mainstream? I don't know. He's running to replace Jim Bunning who is mostly known for criticizing the size of government, objecting to out-of-control spending, and beating up on the Federal Reserve. That's practically the Paul family business, and something Kentucky voters would seem to have an affinity for. Plus, since when is calling for the abolition of the Depts. of Energy and Education outside the mainstream? Those used to be applause lines during the Reagan-Gingrich days! (and are still worthy goals).

Of course, that doesn't mean Paul's path to the nomination should be paved with roses. For one thing, he suffers from the same weakness of many other would-be reformers: he is (ahem) weak on national security, meaning Grayson has been able to credibly demagogue Paul for wanting to close GITMO and bug out of Afghanistan.

Paul also suffers from the basic flaw of the Party of No: while he is good at declaring what he wants to abolish, he is not so hot on selling abolition to the public. It's fine to call for the closing of the Dept. of Energy, but standing around talking grandly about shutting this or that cabinet department won't cut it because the public will want to know what will happen in the aftermath. Without that, any proposal to close any cabinet department will be self-demagoging, as the Gingrich Republicans learned.

Insurgents are fine, but they need to put forth a credible alternative to the present scheme of government. Without that, they can do little more than throw bricks through windows.

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