Keep Up, Rand

So Rand Paul had his Big Day in Iowa Friday, capped by an informal but red-meaty speech at the state GOP’s annual fundraising dinner that had the folks on their feet and issuing feral roars.

I haven’t been able to find a full transcript or video of the speech just yet (it only ran 21 minutes, so the news accounts probably didn’t miss much). But it seems the junior senator from Kentucky did a nice evasive tapdance on the subject of immigration reform despite his early positive noises–which was probably a good idea since America’s leading nativist, Steve King, along with the prime Senate obstacle to the Gang of Eight bill, Chuck Grassley, were in the audience.

Most of the speech, however, seemed to be absorbed with crowd-pleasing boilerplate about Big Government and Obamacare, and then with one headline-grabbing theme: how Benghazi! disqualifies Hillary Clinton from any future public office. (“First question for Hillary Clinton: where in the hell were the Marines?”).

But reading these accounts today, I have to wonder if the famously dextrous Paul (you know, the guy who managed to become a national conservative hero for a filibuster against the use of drones pioneered by the last Republican President of the United States) missed a beat. Yeah, I’m sure he landed in Iowa with a speech already in the can, but how on earth did he fail to leap with both feet onto the early reports of the “IRS scandal?” Is there any theme on earth that resonates more loudly with his overall argument that the secular-socialist Obama administration is on the brink of making America a police state?

I’m sure he won’t make the same mistake twice, but you’d better believe Ted Cruz wouldn’t have made it the first time.

UPDATE: Politico’s Alexander Burns reports that Paul was asked about the IRS thing at a press availability in Iowa, and allowed as how he was “offended” by the extra IRS scrutiny of right-wing 501(c)(4) organizations, “particularly since I’m one of the groups they were targeting.” He clarified that he was not personally affected, but I guess this is just his way of saying “You ‘target’ any conservative, Bubba, you ‘target’ me!”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.