Via Matt Cover, we now have yet another instance of Rand Paul changing his positions on a key issue and then pretending he never held the previous position in the first place. The latest instance comes in the context of aid to foreign countries (specifically, Israel is under consideration here but to be fair to Rand Paul his point was about foreign aid to all countries, especially “wealthy ones” like Israel):
Paul, who was in Omaha campaigning for Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse before a three-day tour of neighboring Iowa, may not like it when reporters bring up his proposal from three years ago to end all U.S. foreign aid—including to Israel. But that was in fact his position.
In 2011, the newly-elected Paul proposed a budget that would have cut $500 billion from the federal budget in part by cutting off foreign aid including financial grants to Israel. The United States provides about $3 billion to Israel annually, and last week the Senate approved $225 million to help support Israel’s “Iron Dome” technology that blocks rocket fire from Gaza. (Paul supported the measure.)
Paul, in his first months in office, however, defended phasing out aid by saying that the U.S. could no longer afford giving cash to other countries.
“I’m not singling out Israel. I support Israel. I want to be known as a friend of Israel, but not with money you don’t have,” Paul said in 2011. “We can’t just borrow from our kids’ future and give it to countries, even if they are our friends.”
I don’t begrudge Rand Paul changing his positions to become more palatable to voters as he clearly contemplates a 2016 Presidential run. What I find craven, however, is his insistence that he never held the first position at all, when he is very clearly on record as having done so. What is wrong with saying, “I used to think X, but now I think Y because of reason Z”? Why can he not admit to having made actual mistakes as he pandered to his loony father’s donor list? Look, America is running a deficit now just like it was in 2011. If it’s wrong to engage in deficit aid spending for “wealthy nations” like Israel in 2011 it’s wrong now.
If this were just a one-off incident, it would be easy to chalk this up to Rand Paul just forgetting what he previously said. However, ideological cowardice is a pattern with Rand Paul. When it became necessary for him to run away from comments he made opposing the Civil Rights Act, for instance, Rand Paul did not admit to a mistake in his position or a growth of understanding about the issues involved. Instead he loudly and bald-facedly claimed that he had never said he opposed the civil rights act, despite the fact that he was caught on video and audio tape doing so numerous times. Then came the Russian invasion of Crimea, when Rand Paul took a number of contradictory positions on what the United States’ response should be, disavowing that he ever held his previously stated positions along the way. Which is to say nothing of the fact that he built his own personal fame on a completely unnecessary filibuster against domestic drone use, only to say later that he was okay with domestic drone use and never meant to create the impression that he was categorically opposed to domestic drone use in the first place.
Admitting error takes courage. Explaining a change of position, especially to people as categorically unreasonable as Ron Paul supporters, is not a job I would envy. And what Rand Paul has demonstrated again and again is that he absolutely lacks the fortitude or ability to perform the job at even a basic level of competence.
While the press, for now, is content with isolated remarks that tend to show that Rand Paul has a denial of the truth problem regarding his past positions, you can be sure that if he comes even within sniffing distance of the nomination in 2016, frank audio and video remarks like the ones noted above about the Civil Rights Act will be splashed across cable and network news on a nightly basis. I hope, at that time, that Rand Paul has a better answer to this than asking viewers to believe him rather than their own lying eyes.