I predicted last week that the appearance of a 2009 video in which Rand Paul basically accused Dick Cheney of launching the Iraq War to fatten Halliburton’s profits would represent the beginning of the end of Paul’s presidential aspirations. Neocon fulminations aside, the marginalization of Paul the Younger by non-libertarian movement conservatives is already moving right along. But it’s interesting that one of today’s burials, by National Review‘s Rich Lowry, adopts a tone more of indulgent derision than of thundering condemnation:

In his dark suspicions about Cheney, Paul is effectively to the left of most mainstream Democrats, who may disagree with and even hate the former vice president but don’t think he supported a major war as a favor to his erstwhile company. Paul’s belief that the Iraq War may have been about padding a corporate bottom line echoes charges of “war profiteering” that have been a staple of the Left.

Rand Paul is a good-natured, thoughtful, and creative politician, and the GOP benefits from having such a high-profile figure who doesn’t look or feel like a typical Republican. But he will soon be running for an office where your view of the world matters profoundly, and his instincts sometimes seem more appropriate to a dorm-room bull session than the Situation Room.

In other words: Paul is fine for the Senate, but not the White House. It’s a calculatedly soft veto of Paul, but it’s a veto nonetheless.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.