Oh, OK: Rand Paul Endorses a Debate Over Destroying ISIS

Yesterday’s rather shocking statement by Rand Paul that if he were president he’d “seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily” is finally producing some aftershocks. WaPo neocon Jennifer Rubin is in full hooting, gloating triumph, luxuriating in Paul’s sudden conversion to the faith community of Republican “hawks” before reminding herself to make it clear the man’s too erratic to be entrusted with power.

Meanwhile, Rand-o-phile Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, normally self-assured of her opinion about absolutely everything, conducts a defense of Paul that’s as incoherent as the Kentucky senator’s own statements of late. After several graphs of pummeling the straw man of depictions of Paul as an “isolationist,” Hemingway suggests that all Paul has done is to call for a debate on ISIS as a possible national security threat.

[Paul’s] belief that we should not nation-build or get involved in every other country’s domestic crisis does not mean that you can’t believe in fighting people who are a legitimate threat. I’m not even making the case that ISIS is that threat, so much as hoping we have a conversation about it since if we were to truly deal with them, it would require a great bit more from us than our recent-decades’ model of fighting wars.

Well, if Paul has truly figured out a way to “destroy ISIS militarily” that avoids all those messy questions raised by “our recent-decades model of fighting wars,” then let’s hear it. And if it turns out he isn’t the greatest military genius in American history, then he should perhaps not attack Obama for the absence of a clear strategy for dealing with ISIS. He doesn’t have one, either, and he’s on the edge of driving both his friends and enemies in the GOP stark raving mad.

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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.