Daniel W. Drezner

A Delicate Question (Hashtag GOP Forty-Seven Paultopian Mess Mix)

Somebody stop him.

Any number of political thoughts occur. This man wants to be president, for instance. Or, Why are you still trying that line? Better yet: You still don’t get the point you’re trying to make?

Start with Dave Weigel for Bloomberg:

During a town-hall meeting with employees of a cloud computing company, Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul said he signed Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran’s leaders to help the Obama administration craft a better deal.

Which is pretty much what he had said a week before, but as we noted then, it took him a couple days. And after this much time, Sen. Paul (R-KY) still does not seem to comprehend the point he is trying to make. Steve Benen tries to put it into context:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), looking thoughtful.  (Photo credit: Unknown)As we talked about the other day, the senator’s posture is arguably the worst of both worlds. For far-right politicians like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), last week’s unprecedented stunt was at least coherent – he and other Republicans wanted to derail the diplomatic efforts, betray President Obama, undermine American foreign policy, and push the world closer to a military confrontation with Iran. Putting aside whether or not the letter was disgusting, there was at least an obvious parallel between the letter and its objectives.

There is no similar logic to Rand Paul’s argument. He’s opposed to a war with Iran, so he signed on to a letter than would push us closer to a war with Iran. He wanted to help the White House “negotiate from a position of strength,” so he put his signature on a letter designed to weaken the administration’s negotiating position.

The fact that Rand Paul signed the letter is a problem. The fact that Rand Paul apparently didn’t understand the point of the letter he signed is a much more alarming problem.

It might be hard to ignore the amount of failing to comprehend people are willing to attribute to the Kentucky junior.

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What It Comes To (Mr. Paul Goes to Washington Scratch Mix)

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Okay, can of corn.

Steve Benen notes, well, among other things worth noting:

On NBC’s “Today” show yesterday morning, the Kentucky Republican told Matt Lauer that he signed on to the sabotage letter because he wanted to “strengthen the president’s hand.”

If there’s a way to see this as a coherent argument, I can’t think of it. Rand Paul thought it would strengthen Obama’s hand at the negotiating table if Republicans told Iranian officials not to trust or cooperate with Obama?

I’m surprised it took them this long.

On Monday, Daniel W. Drezner of Tufts University thus concluded his analysis of the fiasco for the Washington Post:

So, to sum up: Republican senators are trying to scuttle the negotiations with Iran. But not only do I think it won’t work, it might paradoxically help Obama.

It only took Mr. Paul a couple days beyond the requisite five seconds to figure out how to float this particular point as an excuse. They should have tried it sometime before the bit about the White House having no sense of humor.

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Image note: Detail, “U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014.” (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Benen, Steve. “McCain, Rand Paul roll out new excuses for sabotage letter”. msnbc. 12 March 2015.

Drezner, Danel W. “Congress tries to go beyond trolling on foreign policy. It won’t work.”. The Washington Post. 9 March 2015.