Rand Paul — a clown and maybe worse

Rand Paul is a clown. He demonstrated as much with his grandstanding filibuster to protect us from being attacked by drones while sitting in our local café.

Paul recently tweeted: “Democratic authoritarianism is replaced with military junta. American neocons say send them more of your money.”

This is ridiculous. First, is it really “neoconservative” to advocate sending money to a military junta that has just overthrown a democratically elected government?

Six years ago, such advocacy would have been viewed as antithetical to neoconservatism, as the phrase was being thrown around. At that time, neocons were said to be obsessed with spreading democracy, not with supporting military juntas. They were so characterized despite the fact that, during the Cold War, the original neoconservatives weren’t on-board with democracy promotion as a guiding principle to American foreign policy.

In other words, the term neocon is an all purpose epithet used indiscriminately by polemicists who prefer invective to reasoned argument. Rand Paul is such a polemicist.

Second, is sending money to the post-coup Egyptian government actually the position of neoconservatives? John McCain, perhaps the Senator most closely aligned with neoconservatism now that his pal Joe Lieberman has retired, calls for the suspension of aid to Egypt in light of the coup. But President Obama almost certainly will continue U.S. aid to Egypt once the dust settles. He’s not a neocon.

Thus, although some neoconservatives favor continued U.S. financial support for Egypt, this is not a distinctively neoconservative position. Rand Paul once again demonstrates his lack of seriousness by suggesting otherwise.

And he may demonstrate something worse. His tweet appears to be the work of Jack Hunter, who became Paul’s social media director last August. As Alana Goodman shows, Hunter has a long history of pro-Confederate secession views (he has said that “John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place”). That history extends to at least 2009, the year before Paul hired him to help him write his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

Hunter also has it in for neoconservatives. In 2008, he accused them of pushing America into wars on behalf of Israel. This charge is frequently leveled by those who are hostile to Israel.

It’s meritless. Until the die was cast for a U.S. invasion, Israel was less than enthusiastic about American intervention in Iraq, regarding Saddam Hussein’s regime more as a counterbalance to Israel’s arch-enemy Iran than as a threat to the Jewish State. But invoking the neocon bogeyman does tend to conjure up visions of Jewish intellectuals betraying American interests. For some that’s merit enough.

By making Jack Hunter his spokesman, and by tweeting Hunter’s foolish rant about “neocons,” Rand Paul raises concern that his sympathies lie with a racist and anti-Semitic fringe. He also gives credence to those (including, reportedly, some of his staffers) who say that the Kentucky Senator agrees with his father’s line on foreign policy issues. But even if these concerns are unwarranted, Rand Paul certainly isn’t fit ever to direct U.S. foreign policy.

UPDATE: Elliott Abrams, whose neoconservatives credentials are as good as anyone’s, says that U.S. military aid to Egypt should be suspended.

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