Kentucky Senator Rand Paul spoke before a room brimming with cadets at The Citadel yesterday in a speech that was rightly considered an early stump effort toward an eventual Presidential run.
And, as The New York Times helpfully points out, he did address points that were not even remotely subtle nods toward presenting himself a viable candidate in the coming election, with emphasis on one special issue in particular:
Mr. Paul was speaking as a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees, and he never mentioned his prospective presidential run. But allusions to it have been unavoidable throughout his trip to this early primary state. He drew applause in the packed hall when he reprised a line of attack against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her handling of the terrorist assault on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, saying that it had been a “dereliction of duty” and should “preclude Hillary Clinton from ever holding high office again.”
I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.
I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.
If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.
Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.
First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.
That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen Republicans begin to criticize President Barack Obama on various ancillary issues. Some of them are valid. Others not so much. Poll after poll shows that Americans are more concerned about the economy and jobs than other issues that may pop up in the news or the various memes that may arise from either the right or the left.
Here are some of the oft-repeated issues that have come up in recent days that conservatives and Republicans should stay away from if they hope to beat Obama and Democrats in the fall.
Social Issues: We’ve been over this one before thanks to the contraceptive kerfuffle earlier this year. It ended up being a bad issue for Republicans and they took a hit with women in the polls. They were largely right, in that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to fund contraceptives and that the mandate was an infringement of the First Amendment on religious organizations that now have to pay for something to which they may have a moral objection.
More recently, however, it looks like they learned their lesson. When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage at the state-level, Republicans in Congress were mostly silent, though they did reinterate their support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which is facing a legal challenge. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again during the course of the next several months, as we get close to November.
Polls show that social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion, are not on minds of voters, particularly independents. And perhaps even more of important are polls that show a majority of Americans are supportive of gay marriage.
During a speech on Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) contrasted the difference between his approach on foreign policy and the the prevailing views of the Washington establishment.
While he explained the need for a strong national defense, Paul blasted the foreign policy approach of both President Barack Obama and some of his colleagues in the Senate who seemingly want the United States involved in conflict around the globe.
“Senators, like soldiers, take an oath to defend the Constitution against our enemies. I consider it the primary and foremost duty of the Federal Government to defend America, to defend our Bill of Rights and to defend our God-given liberties,” Paul told the veterans. “For inspiration and guidance, I often look towards America’s great military leaders. Some of the best observations on war and diplomacy come from the president who was also one of our most decorated generals, Dwight Eisenhower.”
“Author David Nichols writes that Ike ‘believed, with good reason, that once the violence begins, everything changes and you can throw your plans in the trash,’ he noted. “It’s too bad more in Washington don’t heed Ike’s advice today.”
Paul explained that the greatest priority for the federal government is to preserve the Constitution and defend the nation from threats. But he said that the United States’ penchant for getting involved in other nation’s affairs has undermined our liberties and weakened our ability to defend ourselves. He also noted that our foreign policy towards Egypt and Syria lacks common sense.
There is an ongoing debate in Congress about defense spending. While Republicans have sought further spending cuts to discretionary spending, many have resisted efforts to cut waste and other needless spending inside the Pentagon’s budget.
The Constitution provides the federal government with power to provide for defense. But far too often members of Congress use this as an excuse to justify spending that has less to do with protecting the country and more to do with lining the pockets of donors or other politically-connected government contractors.
Two free market groups — the National Taxpayers Union and the R Street Institute — released a new study yesterday explaining that conservatives can roll back much of the excess in the defense budget and still protect the homeland.
In the study — Defending America, Defending Taxpayers: How Pentagon Spending Can Better Reflect Conservative Values — Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, and Andrew Moylan, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, outline nearly $1.9 trillion in very specific budget savings that can be attained over the next decade without sacrificing national security.
A blogger by the name of Allen Clifton over at “Forward Progressives” has put out a list of “facts” that annoy conservatives and Republicans, supposedly for fun. Allen writes:
I highly encourage all liberals to share this with their conservative friends. Then watch as they haplessly try and argue against each comment.
It’s irresistible. And, as I expected, it doesn’t actually make us look bad. It just shows that progressives like Mr. Clifton haven’t thought their argument the full way through. I’ll leave the points Mr. Clifton makes in bold and my responses below.
1. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say we’re a Christian nation.
2. In fact, no where in our Constitution does the word “Christian” appear even once.
These points are actually true, and I cannot argue with Mr. Clifton. The Constitution does not mention the word “god,” and while many of the Founders were religious, it is questionable whether they were hardcore Christians or rather deists (or, in Mr. Jefferson’s case and the case of others, Christian Deists.) There are mentions to God in the Declaration of Independence, but again, are these references to the Christian conception? The Declaration refers to “Nature’s God”—a deist term, not a Christian one. The only time the Constitution mentions God is in the dating: “ the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven.”
That’s hardly grounds for making the Constitution a Christian document. That’s just how you told the date back then. These days, we replaced “Lord” with “Common Era.”
Even after the sequester, there is a debate still going on inside the conservative movement over defense spending. With budget deficits expected to exceed $850 billion in the current fiscal year — this after four consecutive years of $1+ trillion deficits — fiscal conservatives are urging to keep the cuts to spending increases from the sequester. Hawkish Republicans, however, want to substitute or restore the defense spending cuts from the sequester with other discretionary cuts.
This issue was the subject of a panel yesterday on the mainstage at CPAC. The panel — “Budgets & Readiness: Can We Cut Defense Spending & Still Protect America?” — featured some bright minds from the think tank world and policy world.
- Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Follow, Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies, American Enterprise Institute
- Van Hipp, Jr., Chairman, American Defense International
- Lucian Niemeyer, Staffer, U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
- Christopher Preble, Vice President, Defense & Policy Studies, Cato Institute,
- Moderator: Donald Devine, Vice Chairman, American Conservative Union/Editor, Conservative Battleline
Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
The advisers who introduced Mitt Romney to the idea that he should spend at least 4 percent of GDP on the Pentagon’s budget are busy clarifying what he means. But “their comments,” conclude Bloomberg’s Gopal Ratnam and Tony Capaccio:
only add to the uncertainty about how much a President Romney might add to the Pentagon’s budget and when, what the additional spending would buy other than more warships and how he’d propose to pay for what analysts say may be as much as $2 trillion in added spending while also whittling down the federal deficit as he’s promised.
Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller in George W. Bush’s administration, told Ratnam and Capaccio that Romney’s 4 percent promise is a goal that “is not going to be achieved overnight or perhaps even by the end of the first term.” How quickly Romney reaches his 4 percent target, Zakheim explained at an event last week organized by the group Military Reporters & Editors, “will very much depend on the state of the economy and very much depends on the offsets you’ll be able to find within the defense budget,” but he affirmed that “Every effort will be made to ramp up as soon as possible.”
During tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney is expected to tout a budget plan that would reduce non-defense discretionary spending by 5%. That may sound appealing to conservatives, who have slammed President Barack Obama failure to restrain spending. In reality, non-defense represents 20% of the federal budget, at the most, around $42 billion in spending. That’s really not much to write home about.
Romney’s aides have recently said that he will pursue a different foreign policy course than former President George W. Bush. That’s sounds great on the surface, until you recall that Romney said that he could unilaterally invade Iran. If that isn’t neo-conservative, I don’t know what is. Perhaps equally troubling for those of us concerned about the budget deficit, as Jack Hunter recently explained at the American Conservative, are Romney’s plans increase defense spending:
Something Romney promised with his winning personality Wednesday night—deficit reduction—is also something hard numbers indicate he cannot deliver. If Obama said anything true it was this: “When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper income individuals are currently taking advantage of, you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.”
He added: “It’s math, arithmetic.”
“Conservatives need to remember that just as spending money on something called ‘education’doesn’t mean people are educated, and spending money on ‘welfare’ doesn’t mean it adds to the General Welfare. Calling something ‘national defense’ doesn’t mean it is. It may not be. It may undermine national defense if it’s a waste of resources.” - Grover Norquist
As Mitt Romney and Republicans complain about cuts to defense spending as a part of the sequestion agreement that agreed to last year, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told Caleb Brown of Cato Institute in yesterday’s daily podcast that these spending cuts need to be on the table.