Why the Hawks Love Rand Paul All of a Sudden

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 8 2013 3:53 PM

Why the Hawks Love Rand Paul All of a Sudden

The white-knuckle rage at John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the lone Republican critics of the Rand Paul filibuster, is no great shock. The most active, vocal members of the GOP base dislike both McCain and Graham, with an intensity that wavers between 7 and 9 on a 10 scale. What came off as a surprise was the amen chorus of anger from people who, generally, agree with those senators on foreign policy. For 24 hours, Jennifer Rubin's blog turned into a silo of Rand Paulophilia. Bill Kristol said that Paul could teach hawks plenty about tactics. Even the Heritage Foundation—the Heritage Foundation!—got into the hashtag game.

Why? Rubin has one explanation.

He wasn’t attacking the war on terror. He wasn’t attacking drone use overseas. He surely wasn’t attacking indefinite detention at Guantanamo for enemy combatants. He was objecting to the refusal of the administration to say whether it is constitutional to use drones on U.S. soil against U.S. citizens who are not combatants... It is not inconsistent, media mavens, to support drone use against terrorists overseas or to deal with enemy combatants at Gitmo outside the civilian judicial system and to  oppose the ludicrous position that the government can target Americans on U.S. soil when they aren’t engaged in hostilities.
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Exactly. You can agree with Paul on this point and further your overall argument that this imperial president is too soft on terror. That's what Heritage hinted at when my colleague asked whether its #StandWithRand move represented some sort of shift on drone policy. Heritage pointed him over to its current set of recommendations, which explain that drone warfare is an inapt replacement for an agressive GWOT—more defense money, more surveillance, calling terrorists "Islamists." There is no neoconservative shying away from drones, per se.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.