Although the blogosphere (including all of us) has had a good time discussing libertarianism and Rand Paul, in my view it has been misplaced, because Paul’s pedigree is not libertarian.
Instead, it makes more sense to put Paul together with the Old Right. Paul’s foreign policy views are not about prudentialism, but rather are about Robert Taft (pictured), “Mr. Republican,” who fought the Truman Doctrine and NATO, and resisted the New Deal until he died in 1953. Ike’s triumph at the 1952 Republican Convention theoretically killed Taft’s conservatism off within the GOP, but it’s back in a big way with Paul.
Rand Paul wants to keep Guantanamo open. He supports military commissions. He opposes gay marriage and as far as I know, has never said anything about gay rights in other contexts. Although he has a lot of trouble with Title II of the Civil Rights Act, he has never complained about things like parking requirements and other local land use regulations that represent perhaps the most over-regulated portion of the economy. His father’s newsletters were shot through with racist invective. His immigration plans include an “underground electronic fence” and helicopters monitoring the border.
This is not a libertarian profile. Now, maybe Paul is just a hypocrite, but it makes more sense just to make it clear where he comes from.