Rand Paul back-peddling on “no-pork” pledge?
One of the unstated questions many of us who have observed the Tea Party ask is how long before it become co-opted by one of the major parties. Because it is mostly a leaderless movement, that may end up being a very unlikely thing. But what about the candidates it backed? We’re told that 5 Senators and about 30 or so representatives were backed by local and regional Tea Parties and won their elections.
One of those was Rand Paul who, as the son of Ron Paul, came off as particularly libertarian in his approach to his job as a Senator from Kentucky. In fact, during his campaign, he made what his campaign web site labeled "Rand’s no-pork pledge":
Rand Paul appreciates Republican Senator Jim DeMint introducing today a one-year ban on earmark spending and a balanced-budget amendment. Rand strongly supports both initiatives and has made them centerpieces of his campaign for limited government, including his signing of the Citizens Against Government Waste “No pork pledge.”
“The Tea Party movement is an effort to get government under control,” Rand said. “I’m running to represent Kentuckians and to dismantle the culture of professional politicians in Washington. Leadership isn’t photo-ops with oversized fake cardboard checks. That kind of thinking is bankrupting our nation. Senator DeMint understands that and has taken action to stop it.”
It was that pledge along with other such promises that saw Paul ride a wave to electoral victory.
However, and it seems in politics today, there’s always a "however", it seems that even before taking office, Paul is having second thoughts about his pledge. Veronique de Rugy at the Corner points us to a quote in a Wall Street Journal article about Rand Paul which is, well, disappointing, to be kind about it:
In a bigger shift from his campaign pledge to end earmarks, he tells me that they are a bad “symbol” of easy spending but that he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork, as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in in the dead of night. “I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he says.
Of course there are plenty of ways to "advocate for Kentucky’s interests" without breaking a pledge. That, of course, requires a politician with imagination and the courage of his convictions.
If the quote is accurate, then I have no doubt that Rand Paul will rationalize and justify his way into becoming just another establishment Republican Senator who sells out (in this case, almost immediately) to the “system” in DC. Another in a long line of “go-along-to get-along-old-boy-network” that is within virtual inches of destroying this country.
I have to wonder how the Tea Party movement, which spent so much time, effort and money to get this guy elected feels about this quote? I’ll be interested to hear Paul’s explanation concerning what the WSJ says he said.
But frankly, and assuming he wasn’t misquoted, it’s another indication that much of our political class is a collection of opportunists whose only real quest is the accumulation of personal power. They’ll say whatever it takes to win with no intention of sticking with the principles they claim. While, as Paul says, earmarks are indeed more symbolic that significant, they were significant enough when he was seeking office to take a pledge not to seek them. A pledge voluntarily taken by someone who, as usual, styled himself as “different” and an “outsider” who was going to change the way we do business.
Instead, at the first opportunity, he back-peddles and attempts to rationalize breaking his pledge to “advocate for Kentucky’s interests”.
I hope it’s not true but in reality it appears to be business as usual.