Paul finds new path

Despite the wars in the Middle East, the Ukraine and the problems of the Texas border, Barack Obama and the Democrats are faring better in the upcoming midterm elections. One reason is that the Republican Party has let Obama off the hook by its rigid and dated approach. If Obama’s decision seems out of joint, the GOP leadership seems reactionary. If Obama is predictable in his actions in foreign policy, his opponents are positively super militant.

In their zeal to win the Senate, Republicans have concluded that going back to the future beats creating a new agenda. Now the Republican National Committee is producing T-shirts lamenting that George W. Bush is no longer president. Others declare “Romney was right” when discussing U.S. policy with Russia. If Obama goes down a wrong path, Republicans go over a cliff.

What they have particularly accented is their anti-Obama credentials. Speaker of the House John Boehner has launched a lawsuit against the president concerning his alleged misuse of power. Sarah Palin has mentioned impeachment, a position so absurd that many Republicans have denounced it. The rhetoric has kept Democrats from deserting the president and has kept Republicans without a coherent message.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has tried to outflank Obama on foreign policy, questioning not only an imperial presidency but imperialism. Not since J. William Fulbright’s critique of Lyndon Johnson has a senator been as original as Paul on foreign policy. His sharp analysis is based on the knowledge that after the wars of the last decade Americans are not prepared to bear dubious burdens.

But those denizens of the Bushes eager to extend American power anywhere in the world attack Paul. They send the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to do battle against the Kentuckian. Perry gives the usual shop-worn argument of peace through strength and thus gives Obama a pass. This Paul understands but Perry does not.

For instance, in the Ukraine, the Obama administration has underwritten a regime of dubious legitimacy and ethics. Moreover some members of his administration have sought to profit from their association with the so-called Orange Revolution. Vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, sits on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. But the GOP does not attack the connections because they obviously do not disagree with the policy. Paul sees vulnerabilities while his colleagues attack the same old points with the same old style.

On immigration, Republicans fall over themselves to defend the borders against abandoned children from Central America. Once more, Obama gets a boost in that Hispanics again have an excuse to vote Democratic.

Even Obama seems dated in his approach, with the Democratic Party way ahead of its leader. With the exception of recent events, immigration from Mexico has slowed significantly, giving Obama more flexibility. Instead of anything particularly different, the GOP pushes ever resolutely toward the status quo.