THE BLOG

And the Rand Played On

08/26/2014 06:02 pm ET | Updated Oct 26, 2014

"I think that's what scares the Democrats the most, is that in a general election, were I to run, there's gonna be a lot of independents and even some Democrats who say, 'You know what? We are tired of war. We're worried that Hillary Clinton will get us involved in another Middle Eastern war, because she's so gung-ho." -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), on the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for President.

Actually, what scares the Democrats the most is the concept that someone like Rand Paul could become President of the United States. And so they would do most anything to see that that didn't happen.

I don't tend to follow what Rand Paul generally says all that well. He so often twists his positions around on themselves, and they regularly come blowing out of unexpected orifices. But in the realm of Rand Paul comments, incomprehensible as this thinking can be, this rates among his most head-scratching. Which is saying a lot. I just don't know what on earth he was thinking or trying to gain by saying this.

It's not that he was so wildly off-based in his description of Hillary Clinton. While he's exaggerating her positions, the truth is that I do think that she's more conservative than liberal when it comes to her positions on national defense. And it's a reason some Democrats don't support her for the nomination. But they know this about her already. And have for a long time. And not supporting someone for the nomination is a different kind of fish from support in the general election. So, again, I'm just not quite sure what Rand Paul was possibly thinking or trying to gain by saying this.

Mind you, what Mr. Paul leaves unsaid in his comment is that while a Democrat who is more conservative on war could lose some Independent and "even some" Democratic votes, such a candidate who is positioned as very tough on national defense is also far more likely to pick up even far more Independent votes and a lot of Republican ones. So, you'd think the very last thing a Republican would want to do is paint any Democrat as playing to the GOP's own strength.

After all, you know that Hillary Clinton will be strong on social issues and on immigration, concerns that are so critical to Democrats, and a candidate like Rand Paul is achingly weak there, him being on the record, for instance, as not saying that he is not a strong supporter of the Voting Rights Act. So, the one issue that Republicans can ever have the upper hand on Democrats is by painting them (as they so often do) as lily-livered appeasers on national defense. And yet here is Rand Paul handing Hillary Clinton that on a silver platter.

In fact, going further, the biggest issue that Republicans (wrongly) think they have on Ms. Clinton is relentlessly attacking her eternally over her supposed-involvement in the failure in Benghazi. That's a near-impossible case to make now when with the other other hand you're painting her as this defender of American in war. So, Mr. Paul is pulling the rug from under the one card Republicans believe they have.

And the only other remote issue that Republicans could have on Hillary Clinton is her being a woman -- which for some means that she's too soft and tender and touch-feely and weepy emotional. And here is Rand Paul telling voters to be wary of Hillary Clinton because...she's too tough and militaristic.

The only thing I can even possibly see that he thinks he's doing is trying a bit of preventative offense, campaigning against Hillary Clinton early by tarnishing her badly in the eyes of Democrats so that they won't nominate her to run for President. Against him.

The problem with that is the one thing any Democrat could hope for is to be criticized by Rand Paul. Or Ted Cruz. Or Mario Rubio. The front line triumvirate of Republicans who most Democrats consider the leading heirs of the Lunatic Fringe. The specifics of what Rand Paul is saying here are empty words to Democrats -- the political equivalent of adults in the Peanuts animated specials, with just the sound of a horn going "whank-whank-whaaaaank." All that Democrats would hear is that Rand Paul was criticizing one of their own Democrats trying to get their own nomination. How dare he?!!

And all that Republicans and right-leaning Independents would hear is that Hillary Clinton will "bring it on" and take it to those terrorists in the Middle East.

And in the end, what he has mainly done is allow Hillary Clinton to explain that the last thing she needs is Rand Paul whining about how much she'll come to the defense of America. Because one thing you know she'll always do is go to the defense of America. Which is what she did when she was in the White House as First Lady. And when she was in the United States Senate. And when she was secretary of state, while Rand Paul is fine leaving America defenseless, she will always be on the front line defending our nation, as she always has been. And yes, she has supported war when our nation was attacked, and she has spent her career working diplomatically for peace. And Rand Paul -- honestly, she doesn't know what Rand Paul has ever stood for. Other than weakening our national defense.

Is Hillary Clinton more conservative when it comes to supporting military involvement than some Democrats prefer? Yes, absolutely. And that is the biggest nightmare for Republicans is she is nominated.

What scares Democrats the most is that Rand Paul will stop saying junk like this.

___________

To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.