Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s vote to temporarily block Chuck Hagel’s nomination for secretary of defense elicited blowback from an unlikely source: antiwar conservatives and libertarians, many of them supporters of his father’s GOP presidential campaign.
Paul, the son of former Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, joined all but four Republican senators Thursday in voting against a motion to end debate over Hagel’s nomination. GOP leaders are saying that they will not filibuster Hagel indefinitely, but instead want to delay a vote until they have more information about his speeches and finances.
“That is also why I voted to not end debate on the Hagel nomination,” Paul said in a statement. “I do not believe Sen. Hagel has adequately explained his activities and their financing since he left the Senate, and I believe this criteria is especially important when dealing with the revolving door between government and the private sector.”
That explanation wasn’t good enough for Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com and a strong supporter of Ron Paul. “It’s time for libertarians to treat Rand Paul like the turncoat he is: boycott,” Raimondo tweeted. “No $$, no support, & start calling him Paul the Lesser.”
Daniel Larison, a blogger and senior editor for the American Conservative magazine, called it “an awful, indefensible vote.”
Scott McConnell, one of the magazine’s founding editors, went a step further: “If Rand Paul persists on going demagogic on Hagel, he will have established beyond any serious doubt that regardless of who his father is, he is Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin’s boy.”
Kristol is editor in chief of the Weekly Standard, and Rubin is a blogger at the Washington Post. Both were strongly opposed to Hagel’s nomination, partly on the grounds that the former senator was too dovish on foreign policy and insufficiently pro-Israel.
Paul, who argued for a more restrained Republican foreign policy in a speech at the Heritage Foundation earlier this month, had previously expressed an open mind toward Hagel. But on Wednesday, he began to signal publicly that he would support delaying Hagel’s confirmation.
Guardian blogger Glenn Greenwald, a liberal who has been sympathetic to the Pauls, complained, “Any hope Rand Paul was going to usher in some sort of new foreign policy in the GOP has just been torpedoed by his NO vote on Hagel cloture.”
The senator has weathered dust-ups with his father’s strongest supporters in the past, such as when he endorsed Mitt Romney for president near the end of the 2012 Republican primaries.
Republican opposition to Hagel’s nomination has intensified since his confirmation hearings. The cloture vote failed 58 to 40, two votes shy of what was necessary to end debate.
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