Political Animal


January 17, 2013 3:20 PM Rand Paul’s Modified Limited Hangout on Israel

By Ed Kilgore

So who wants to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016? It’s been rumored for a while that the junior United States Senator from Kentucky is very interested.

But if so, Rand Paul has some fences to mend. And he’s been working on one via a trip to Israel last week, where he sought to offset his long-standing demands for reduced U.S. aid to Israel (and everybody else) with all sorts of sympathetic noises about Israel’s own policies, as explained by the New York Sun’s Seth Lipsky:

In Jerusalem last week, the senator met a broad range of leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, as well as Naftali Bennett, a rising right-wing leader aligned with the settler movement.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Paul addressing questions about what Israel should do about the settlements and Gaza. “Well,” he replied, “America should and does have an opinion about these things, but ultimately these are decisions you have to make.”
There hasn’t been such a supportive comment on Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and in Jerusalem since Sarah Palin last spoke on the subject. Her comments drove the left up the wall.
Paul also voiced support on Gaza: “I don’t think you need to call me on the phone and get permission to stop missiles raining down from Gaza.” He seems to want Israel to have a free hand in its own affairs, which dovetails with his wariness on foreign aid.

Indeed. It’s one thing to say you have no issues with Israel going to war with Iran, and another altogether to promise to join right in. But I guess Paul’s doing what he can do to perform the maneuver famously described in the Nixon White House Tapes as a “modified limited hangout” by going as far as he can go, even if he’ll never earn the trust of neocon foreign policy types.

And that may not matter a lot for someone more interested in the good opinion of the people at Pizza Ranches in Iowa than in the offices of The Weekly Standard. The Iowa Republican reports that Paul’s entourage in the trip to Israel—itself sponsored by the famously homophobic social conservative group the American Family Association—was chock-a-block with Iowa Christian Right stalwarts:

The trip was arranged by the American Family Association and included 53 prominent evangelicals and conservative activists. Among them: RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker, Iowa National Committeewoman Tamara Scott and Pastor Brad Sherman, who played a key role in Mike Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa campaign … South Carolina’s GOP Chairman Chad Connelly was also on the trip.

Who cares if William Kristol or Jennifer Rubin considers you an Enemy of Israel if the real “Israel Lobby” in the GOP, the Christian Right, disagrees? Not Rand Paul.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 17, 2013 3:35 PM:

    One Isreali leader to another one, while waiting for Rand Paul:
    "So, this is the meshugenah son, Rand, of the meshugenah father, Ron, right? Another Libertarian meshugenah follower of Ayn Rand, right? So, he didn't fly here on a jet and land at an airport, he walked here, right?"

    If we elect lunatics and morons into public office, can't we at least keep them here, where other nations won't see how insane, stupid, and ignorant so many of our citizens are?
    Talking to Rand will care the bejuzus out of anyone!

    Frankly, Rand Paul would stand out in "The International Village Idiots Annual Convention!"
    He'd scare the other idiots silly.

  • Josef K on January 17, 2013 3:56 PM:

    Itís been rumored for a while that the junior United States Senator from Kentucky is very interested.

    What was I saying earlier how our body politic was clearly ill for having this individual in the Senate? But the prospect of him in the White House?


  • Kathryn on January 17, 2013 4:30 PM:

    Rand Paul will flame out like Rick Perry and he doesn't even have good hair. What is that on top of his head anyway?

  • Debra on January 17, 2013 4:31 PM:

    I've been watching Rand Paul's actions, deeds, & words since he first came to congress.

    BTW I'm a Conservative.

    Yes, he made a 'trip' to Israel. But does he 'support Israel'? Not according to his voting record. His record is aligned with his daddy's.

  • T'pol on January 17, 2013 4:59 PM:

    "The trip was arranged by the American Family Association"

    It amazes me how Evangelicals turn themselves into pretzels to despise Jews and still LOVE Israel.

    I guess they hate the sand n-ggers worse than they hate the Christ-killers.

  • c u n d gulag on January 17, 2013 5:00 PM:

    It was probably a toupee that Donald Trump discarded, for looking not enough like a dead weasel.

  • Mitch on January 17, 2013 5:22 PM:


    As the child of VERY strict Evangelical Fundamentalist SOuthern Baptists, I can say that it's all about the apocalypse for them. According to one of the more popular views, the End Times cannot and will not begin until Israel rebuilds the temple in Jerusalem. Once the temple is rebuilt, the clock starts ticking on the end of the world.

    That's really all that it's about. I've never been to a church which spoke very highly of Jewish folk. Oh, the Fundies are alot nicer to them than to any other non-Christians (and some Christians), but Fundies are also convinced that Jews are going to roast eternally in Hell along with the Muslims and Hitler. Most Fundies don't consider Jews to be "Christ-Killers" anymore, but Jews are still just as damned as anyone else who does not subscribe to the Evangelical worldview.

    Fundies mainly support the Jews to help bring about the end of the world. That's it; and they aren't actually subtle about it. I was taught from early childhood to yearn for the end of all things. Since the end result will be total victory for Christians (or at least the 'right' kind of Christian), and everyone else can literally go to Hell.

    As an aside, I often ask my Fundie friends/family/preachers why they feel the need to help fulfill such prophecy, considering that God could do whatever He desired, and Jesus did say that nobody knows when the end will come. They usually get angry and call me very un-Christian names. I laugh; upsetting theocrats is one of my favorite hobbies.

  • Kathryn on January 17, 2013 7:25 PM:

    Yes Gulag, it's kind of of a curly weasel, the Donald prefers a straighter look, one that lifts up attractively in the breeze.