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Does John McCain have standing to complain about “political stunts”?

Quick, what was the last speech by a Republican that energized the base as much as Rand Paul’s filibuster? Some may cite Paul Ryan’s dynamic acceptance speech at the 2012 Republican Convention. But the better answer, I think, is Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech in 2008.

Palin’s speech was brought to us by John McCain, the same guy who now attacks Rand Paul for engaging in a stunt.

In fairness to McCain (and to Palin), his running mate said nothing in her speech that he, or other national security conservatives, could have found objectionable. Palin spoke rousingly without promulgating half-baked views or displaying paranoia. Rand Paul flirted with both.

Even so, it’s a bit rich to hear McCain complaining about political stunts. In my view, the Palin nomination was, at root, just such a stunt.

I had heard McCain say on his campaign bus, “The Straight Talk Express,” that he wanted a running mate who was highly qualified to serve as president and who had the expertise he lacked about economic matters. McCain must have been riding a different “Express” when he picked Palin.

After her Convention speech, Palin’s star kept rising with the Republican base, but began to wane with the electorate as a whole. Eventually, it diminished even with the base.

We can only guess what will happen to Rand Paul’s star. My guess, which I admit isn’t worth much at this point, would be that he will divide the base and never appeal greatly to the electorate as a whole.

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