Wednesday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared on the Today Show with Savannah Guthrie for a 2016 presidential race type interview. Â Guthrie started out the interview asking rapid fire questions about the perceived “flip-flops” in Paul’s foreign policy paper trail. Â She asked:
“You have had views in the past on foreign police that are somewhat unorthodox. Â But you seem to have changed over the years. Â You once said Iran was not a threat. Â Now you say it is. Â You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel. Â You now support it at least for the time being. Â And you once offered to drastically wanted to cut defense spending and now you want to increase it sixteen percent. Â So I just wondered if you’ve mellowed out.”
Rand Paul isn’t stupid. Â The more likely scenario is that he’s realized the need for a strong defense against those who would destroy us. Â At this point, it should be a given that he’s realized Iran is a threat.
However, that is not how Paul played it. Â At about the “You once proposed ending foreign aid to Israel” statement, he started to object:
“Before we go. Before we go. Before we go through. Before we go through a litany of. Before we go through a litany of…”
Seriously, it was a combative laundry list even if conservatives are wondering the same thing. Â Rand Paul being the Q & A type physician that he is, would prefer the interview take a different tone:
“Why don’t you let me explain instead of talking over me, OK? Â Before we go through a litany of things you say I changed on, why don’t you ask me a question: Have I changed my opinion? That would be sort of a better way to approach an interview.”
After explaining how Ms. Guthrie editorialized what he had to say over the years, Rand went on to say this:
“Let’s start out with regard to foreign aid. Â My opinion has always been that we shouldn’t borrow money from China to send it to any country. Â Pakistan, Israel or any other country. Â But I also realize that things will have to be done gradually, that if we are going to try to eliminate or reduce foreign aid, why don’t we start with the countries that hate us, that burn our flag. Â One thing that is true, is that Israel does not burn our flag, so I haven’t proposed removing foreign aid from Israel, but I still agree with my initial precept – let me answer the question. Â I agree with my original statement from years ago that ultimately all nations should be free of foreign aid because we shouldn’t borrow money to do it, but my opinion is not any different than Netanyahu’s opinion. Â When he came before a joint session of Congress in 1996, he said, you know that Israel also ought to be independent of it and that Israel’s defense may be stronger because then they wouldn’t be forced to buy defense products from outside the country.”
That is not a simple assessment, the sort of which Ms. Guthrie was attempting to “gotcha” Sen. Paul into confessing on national television. She then asked if he thought Iran was still not a threat.
“Yeah, 2007 was a long time ago and events do change over long periods of time. Â So, we’re talking about eight years ago. Â We are talking about a time when I wasn’t running for office and I was helping someone else run for office. Â What I would say is that there has always been a threat around gaining nuclear weapons and I think that’s greater now than it was many years ago. Â I think we should do everything we can to stop them. I’ve voted for sanctions to try to stop them. Â I’m somewhat skeptical of the president’s agreement. Â However, I am in favor of negotiations over war and I think I’ve been one of the reasonable people in our party who has not been beating the drums for war, and so, I think my position on Iran is one that reflects the event and reflects the current history with regards to Iran.”
Hardly anyone has a problem with negotiation before going to war, but sometimes the opposition plays the negotiators, and that seems to be what happened. Â Paul doesn’t go there. Â Savannah then asked the question she, the woman who desired intrigue in the exchange, really wanted to know: had he mellowed or tempered his views. Â Sen. Paul responded this way:
“I think what I’ve understood since I’ve come to Washington is Washington is horribly broken and we have to try to fix it. Â I think the deficit goes on whether the Republicans or Democrats are in charge, and sometimes we point fingers too much and say it’s the fault of one part or the other. Â I think there is enough blame to go around. Â But what I’ve come to the conclusion is is that we need more turnover. Â I’m a big fan of term limits. Â I think we will only improve when we have term limits and when we have rules such as the balanced budget amendment which forces Congress to do the job they seem to be incapable of doing.”
Other than “fixing Washington” which will only happen when lobbying becomes illegal and humans are born without original sin, there’s not much to argue with there.
For the full interview, visit the Today Show video page.