Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rand Paul 'Most Intriguing Man' in the GOP. Really?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rand Paul 'Most Intriguing Man' in the GOP. Really?

Article excerpt

Is Rand Paul really "the most intriguing man in today's Republican Party?"

That's the assertion Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus made the other day, going beyond that to declare the US Senator from Kentucky "for Democrats, perhaps the most frightening" potential presidential candidate in 2016.

That election is light years away in political time, of course. Sen. Paul could trip over something, like the evidence of sloppy plagiarism in his past speeches and writings he was forced to acknowledge last year.

But really, compared with the other Republicans mentioned these days - Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, etc. (plus such 2012 also-rans as Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, both sniffing the presidential winds again) - he's positively sparkly.

Paul's attraction is two-fold.

He's with most Americans aghast at government domestic spying and resistant of anything that suggests even the possibility of costly adventures abroad. The "war on terror" waged from 9/11 through the 2000's brought both of those trends, and Paul's thinking is very much in line with that - and would be, one senses, even if it didn't comprise popular thought as shown in the polls.

Also, his persona and demeanor doesn't say "conservative Republican" - the jeans, mussy hair, and what Marcus observed was a "laconic delivery and soft bluegrass accent that lent a certain stoner quality to his speech" - which is why (along with his message) he did well at the University of California at Berkeley the other day.

"He does not look like, act like, or talk like a conventional politician," Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, told This Week magazine. "Voters are extremely unhappy with the political system, and Paul's awkward sincerity status clearly taps into the disillusionment."

Even those who may oppose him on issues give him grudging praise on performance.

Parsing Paul's appearance at Berkeley, Huffington Post writer Peter Watts concludes that it amounted to "a masterful assessment of the audience, and a message fine-tuned to their viewpoint."

Like his father before him - US Rep. …

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