If there is indeed going to be a Republican Establishment/Neocon campaign to marginalize Rand Paul for his foreign policy views, it’s going to have to be a lot more nimble in the face of opportunistic ploys like this one (per Politico’s Lucy McCalmont):

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will introduce a bill this week, calling for an end of U.S. aid to Palestine until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist, which could be seen as an attempt to drum up pro-Israel support prior to a possible 2016 bid.

“Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist and that has used terrorist tactics to seek its end,” the Republican senator said in a statement Monday.

Reflecting his father’s paleoconservative legacy, Paul the Younger has long supported an elimination of U.S. aid to all the countries of the Middle East, the Middle East being a subset of “the world.” But his personal twist on the Paul Doctrine is to cut off aid to “unfriendly” countries first, and only then cut off aid to “friends” like the Israelis. This rather disingenuous posture enables him to leap into the current meltdown of peace talks between the Netanyahu government and the Palestinian Authority and pose as Israel’s extra-special buddy.

What surprises me most about this turn of events is that other Republicans let Paul “get there” first. You’d figure that since so many of them reject the very idea of a two-state approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, the announcement of an Abbas-Hamas “reconciliation” accord would have created a long line at the microphone of GOP pols demanding a cutoff of U.S. aid, leaving Paul in a “me-too” position. But he seems to be a bit quicker at the draw than his intra-party detractors. We’ll see if this pattern holds up.

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.