Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been in the news several times this week for warning the state of Texas, criticizing Bill Clinton, and most recently announcing a class action lawsuit against the Obama Administration. Sen. Paul, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, has rarely hesitated to speak his mind on the national stage, and in this past week he has stepped to the forefront of the debate to offer his opinions. The first occasion concerned the state of Texas, long considered a reliable Republican stronghold.
Paul was speaking at a dinner for fellow Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) in Dallas and warned those in attendance that Texas could turn blue (become Democratic) within ten years if the Republican Party did not change its message and tactics. Paul mostly connected the situation in Texas to the ongoing debate regarding immigration, but also scolded the GOP for not being a more inclusive institution. He conceded that immigration was a “touchy subject” and that not everyone in the party would agree on how to deal with it.
Paul said that Republicans need not change their policy so much as their tactics. They need to communicate their ideas about immigration more effectively and be more willing to actually legislate on the issue rather than simply obstruct Democratic initiatives. He said that border enforcement remains critical, as well as welcoming those who want to come to the United States to work. Paul argued that the total lack of action on immigration frustrated all Americans, particularly Latinos.
Paul also took the occasion to scold Republicans for not being more inclusive. He said that the GOP cannot basically “concede” minorities to the Democratic Party. Paul wants a Republican Party that “looks more like America,” and is open to people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. As with his comments on immigration, he argued that this does not necessitate concessions on policy or changing the underlying positions of the party. Instead, Paul claims that the GOP must do a better job of reaching out to people. He said there will be African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and others who will agree with the things the Republican Party stands for, but currently the “message” is that the GOP wants nothing to do with those groups. That, Paul says, is what has to change. Rand Paul did not stop at warning Texas however. He went on to criticize Bill Clinton and to sue the Obama Administration.
Paul brought up the old “womanizing” habits of former President Bill Clinton, in a somewhat unusual tactic. These attacks from Paul against Clinton actually began in January, but they resurfaced recently as Paul was criticized by long-time Republican strategist Karl Rove. It is believed that Paul’s attack against Clinton is designed to counter the Democratic narrative of the GOP’s so-called “War Against Women.” Paul claims that Democrats are essentially hypocrites for saying they stand for women, while at the same time excusing or ignoring “predatory behavior” by the likes of prominent Democrats like Clinton.
Rove draws attention to the flaws in Paul’s criticism. He argues that it does nothing to move the country forward or highlight what Paul himself could bring to the country as a candidate for president. The U.S. does not want to rehash the controversies of the Clinton years, and to bring them up again makes Paul look “small,” according to Rove. The other potential flaw in this is that Clinton was actually still very popular at the height of his sexual scandals. Rove argued that Clinton’s dalliances never resonated with the country except in a tabloid sense, despite his eventual impeachment by a Republican controlled House of Representatives. Paul has little to gain by continuing to bash Bill Clinton in Rove’s mind.
Sen. Paul continued his week in the news by recently announcing a class-action lawsuit against the Obama Administration pertaining to the controversial intelligence gathering operations conducted by the National Security Agency. (NSA) The lead attorney for the suit will be former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and will be joined by Matt Kibbe, representing the Tea Party affiliated group FreedomWorks. In a joint statement to CNN, the three men reject the argument that the NSA programs are necessary to keep American citizens safe in an age of terrorism. They claim that the “blanket collection” of electronic data by the NSA is a direct violation of the protections given in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Paul and his companions are seeking a court ruling stating that this collection is unconstitutional.
President Obama has recently announced some reforms intended to ease concerns regarding the NSA programs. Paul, and other privacy advocates, contend that these minor changes do little to address issues of privacy or protect the rights of U.S. citizens, to say nothing of how they affect the collection of data abroad. They not only want the NSA programs halted, but they want the data already collected by the agency to be deleted or destroyed since it was obtained illegally. Paul stated that the lawsuit was not a political issue and that privacy is not a matter of “progressive versus conservative,” but instead a matter of concern to all Americans everywhere.
Senator Rand Paul has often found occasion to make his opinion known on issues of national importance. That trend continued this week as Sen. Paul warned Texas, criticized Bill Clinton, and sued the Obama Administration.
By Christopher V. Spencer