From the department of “How did you spend your summer vacation?” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky spent Congress’s August break in Guatemala, as he has done for quite a few years, performing pro bono eye surgeries for the poor. Ann Althouse noted on Sunday that the mainstream media is impugning his motives, suggesting that it is all about 2016 and that helping blind people to see is just a happy side effect. Kevin Williamson in the National Review adds that Paul’s vacation contrasts smartly with those of President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
One of Paul’s appeals is that he has a useful skill outside of politics, something that cannot be said of most office holders, and even better keeps his hand in it. In that it can be said that he has provided health care to more people more effectively that anyone who voted for Obamacare. If he were turned out of office, Paul could happily go back to doing eye surgeries full time.
In the meantime, he did delve into politics by suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a “war hawk” hinting that if he were to run for president in 2016 he would actually run to the left of her on foreign policy issues. The political zeitgeist, which had favored this sort of isolationism in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, may be changing under Paul’s feet. From the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, to Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine adventures, to China’s saber rattling in the East and South China Seas, the world is getting dangerous again.
Paul accused Clinton of wanting war in the Middle East. However war is already being waged and the real question is whether we want Clinton, whose blundering helped to set the stage for ISIS, or Paul, who would try to ignore it, in charge to handle it. The issue for 2016 will not be whether or not to be engaged in the world as that is being forced upon the United States once again. The question will be, who has the competence and temperament to oversee that engagement. The answer may be neither Clinton nor Paul.