The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens wrote an op-ed in today’s paper that served as harsh criticism for those who believe Rand Paul would be a good candidate for president in 2016. I will admit that I am a fan of the junior senator from Kentucky so I did not take kindly to Stephens’ piece. It’s not that I have thin skin. I don’t like to live in a false reality and therefore I accept legitimate criticisms of my points of view. My problem with Stephens’ piece then is not that he insulted a politician I like, my problem is that his criticisms were poorly thought out and his arguments weak. It reminded me of something that would be written in a school newspaper by a freshman.
The biggest problem with Stephens’ argument is that he fails to distinguish between how things ought to be and how things effectively are in the real world. As Machiavelli taught us, this concept of “effectual truth” is key to analyzing political situations. Surly Stephens knows this and is just choosing to be ideologically driven instead of fact driven. For example, he seems to be a fan of Jeb Bush and claim that the fact that he is W.’s brother is insignificant because clearly the American people don’t mind political dynasties- just look at Hillary he says. The flaw in Stephens’ argument is that he does not distinguish between positive dynasties and negative dynasties. The American people don’t mind Hillary being another Clinton because people LIKED Bill during the 90s. Surly Stephens followed the 2012 election and noticed how Obama successfully campaigned on Bill Clinton’s record instead of his own. George Bush on the other hand is still a political liability for the Republicans. Sure, people ought to to realize that Bush is a good man and his brother Jeb would probably make a good president, but the effectual truth of the matter is that voters WON”T think this way, especially once a well financed democratic campaign starts to remind people how much they disliked Bush.
Stephens also tries to defend Chris Christie as a presidential contender saying that he is innocent in the “bridgegate” scandal. Again, Stephens must know that the “investigation” that found Christie innocent was basically headed by… Chris Christie… Does Stephens really think that the democrats wouldn’t be effective in hammering this point home? Plus, Christie is a bully. There is no denying this. And while that may play well in New Jersey politics, it won’t play well in the rest of the country. Plus, if Chris Christie is a political opportunist who would turn democrat if that was most expedient to his career. Do some research into Christie’s past and it is hard to have anything but scorn for the man. Not to mention the fact that he is hardly a conservative, his state’s economy is still in the dump and he supports gun control beyond reasonable measures. Honestly, I would vote for Bill Clinton over him.
The best part of Stephens’ piece is that he acts like his establishment GOP types have actually had success in the past. President Dole presided over a thriving 90s economy, President Bush was fiscally conservative and popular, President McCain successfully ended world conflict by giving weapons to every anti-American rebel group that asks for them and President Romney dragged America out of our economic slump and repealed and replaced Obamacare. Oh wait…
The GOP needs something new and it is Rand Paul. The electorate is sick of foreign wars, government invasion of our privacy that results in no increase in safety, and traditional establishment like politicians who do nothing but work together to rob Americans of their liberties and fortunes. I will admit that Rand is not a perfect candidate, no one is, but I believe he is our best chance at restoring America.