Lately Rand Paul has taken extraordinary steps to propel himself into the media spotlight. First he implied that Bill Clinton’s dalliance with an intern sixteen years ago somehow disqualifies his wife from being President of the United States. I don’t see how blaming the victim, Hillary Clinton, for the sins of her husband is going to go over well with the majority of women voters. Message: When a man commitments adultery it is his wife’s fault – yea, that’ll work. These accusations also appear to ignore Bill Clinton’s current 65% approval ratings. Cigar high jinks aside, Bill Clinton was still the most effective, politically savvy President in recent memory. He will be a real asset as Hillary’s principal adviser. The only logical reason why Paul would bring up this ancient scandal is a bid to appeal to the far right radicals in the Republican Party’s base who love to hate the Clintons. This is obviously in preparation for his presidential bid. However, it is not tactic which is likely to win many points in the general election.
In another move calculated to garner major media attention Rand Paul recently filed a class action lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the NSA’s surveillance program. Constitutional scholars don’t consider this to be a serious case because it lacks the specificity. In other words to be viable a case must have an aggrieved party, for instance someone that NSA specifically spied on who was later found to be not be associated with a terrorist organization or plot. It is not enough sign on millions of plaintives who say they are protecting the 2nd amendment. So while it will probably be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court for the publicity value, the case has little or no chance of being successful. It is just pure political theater. Strangely enough this stunt is more likely to appeal to liberals and libertarians than the Republican Party’s ultra conservative base who would authorize spying on their wives and mothers if it made them feel a tiny bit safer.
I hope that Rand Paul wins the Republican nomination; Hillary would squash him like a bug. Of course with the Bridgegate scandal virtually eliminating Chris Christi, at least for the time being, there are no other Republican candidates left that can generate the widespread appeal necessary to actually win the next Presidential election. The Republicans problem is not the Democrats; it is their ultraconservative base which virtually controls their nomination process. Some had doubts that even if Christi had not been damaged by his current scandal he could have been able to secure the Republican nomination because he is much too “liberal” for many Tea Party zealots.
The eventual Republican Presidential nominee will have to move so far to the right to secure his party’s nomination that he (you don’t really think the Republicans will ever nominate a woman do you?) will be doomed to failure in the general election. Public statements initially designed to appeal to the far right will be used against him with great effectiveness as he tries to reposition himself to the middle in order to gain the support of the independents whose votes he desperately needs to win the general election.
Knowing this was a major problem in the last election, the Republican National Committee has drastically cut the number of debates which will be held during their nomination process. They have also scheduled their convention earlier in the year this time around. Both tactics are design to cut down on the opportunities their candidates will have to talk themselves into corners and to give their eventual nominee more time to recover from his self inflicted wounds sustained during the primaries. This strategy has little chance of working, but they have to try something. The bottom line is that when it comes to presidential elections, the Republican’s problem is their fringe right wing. They can’t win with them and they can’t win without them.