Will Cuba Be Rand Paul’s Iran?

So political observers are probably still in semi-shock over the very conspicuous voice not being raised against Barack Obama’s “outrageous” partial restoration of normalized relations with Cuba. It’s Rand Paul:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the latest potential presidential candidate to weigh in on policy changes to Cuba and the libertarian leaning Republican’s position splits from other Republicans who are also considering a presidential run.

Paul told Tom Roten of News Talk 800 in West Virginia that the 50-year embargo “just hasn’t worked” and normalizing relations with the island nation is “probably a good idea.”

“If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship,” he said.

Paul’s observations were entirely accurate, but it’s amazing to see him become the first Republican to admit this particular emperor has no clothes. He has worked so hard to overcome his old man’s reputation for “isolationism” by finding a way to join hard-core natioanal security freaks and even neocons in nearly every anti-Obama foreign policy fight. Now here he is, alone again, naturally, in the latest furor. I would have guessed he would have again found some excuse for attacking the scope of or the legal authority for Obama’s action, but not so far.

Perhaps Paul is calculating that no one will care about Cuba policy by the time the 2016 nominating contest gets serious, and that could be true. But if, say, Marco Rubio is in the field, I don’t think Paul will be able to avoid the issue. And I’ll betcha the other candidates will gang up on him just as they did on Ron about Iran, even as they largely refused to challenge his crazy monetary policy ideas or his long association with extremists. Conservative mistrust of the Paul family on national security issues hasn’t gone away by any means, and it’s surprising he’s giving it new life, even if he’s absolutely right on policy grounds. I’m quite sure Jennifer Rubin is writing a blog post on this fresh evidence of his “isolationism” as we speak.

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.