Is Paul Appealing–Or Appalling?

We’ve got a link in our “Picks” section this morning to Bret Stephens’s Wall Street Journal column mockingly titled “Rand Paul for President,” whose subhed suggests that perhaps the GOP, like Democrats in the 1980s, needs to suffer a landslide defeat to get its head on straight.  Stephens thinks Rand Paul’s “bark-at-the-moon lunacy” would be just the ticket.

Paul’s partisans will discount Stephens as part of the neocon conspiracy.  But can the same be said for National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose column today sounds similar notes:

The oil-services company Halliburton is an old obsession of the anti-Bush Left, and evidently of Kentucky senator Rand Paul. . .

Rand Paul is a good-natured, thoughtful, and creative politician, and the GOP benefits from having such a high-profile figure who doesn’t look or feel like a typical Republican. But he will soon be running for an office where your view of the world matters profoundly, and his instincts sometimes seem more appropriate to a dorm-room bull session than the Situation Room. . .

You don’t have to be a war profiteer to consider this dewy-eyed foolishness. Barack Obama’s can’t-we-all-get-along naiveté didn’t hurt him in his primary fight in 2008, but he was running in the other party. Rand Paul is running in a party that, while chastened on foreign policy, still has a hawkish reflex — and not because it is beholden to Halliburton.

This is about get interesting—and quite acrimonious, too.  (Probably including our own readership.)

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