If you miss the familiar tradition of former Rep. Ron Paul sternly berating chairmen of the Federal Reserve during Congressional hearings, don’t despair: His son, Senator Rand Paul, looks to be on track to do the same to witnesses before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years to come.
Paul, a senator since 2010 and new appointee to the SFRC, got himself in the headlines Wednesday and Thursday for tangling with Hillary Clinton (video above) and saying he would have fired her if he could over her handling of the Benghazi attack, and for sniping at John Kerry during his confirmation hearing. It was reminiscent of moments like this one, when Ron Paul decried Alan Greenspan’s continued employment in 2000:
The Pauls share a feisty style and a total lack of hesitation about voicing views that others might find outré, whether it’s reducing foreign aid to Israel or, in Ron’s case, abolishing the Federal Reserve. And judging by Rand’s performance over the last couple days, they share a propensity for spicing up otherwise ponderous Congressional hearings.
One source close to Rand Paul acknowledged “a little” resemblance in the father-son pair’s interrogation methods, but pointed out that Rand wasn’t alone in his intensity during the Clinton panel: he essentially just agreed with the other Republicans present. Doug Wead, a longtime figure in the Ron Paul orbit, said the analogy of Rand in the foreign policy community to Ron in the economic world “sounds about right.”
Rand Paul, while aware that he needs to have a bit of rapprochement with Republican dogma (see: his bridge-building trip to Israel recently, and meetings with neo-conservatives) is setting himself up as a maverick, the voice on the committee that will ask the questions no one else dares to — and that many view as simply stunts. While questioning Clinton about the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, for example, he referenced a conspiracy theory involving the U.S. allegedly smuggling Libyan arms to Turkey. The moment inspired an entire segment on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC show on Thursday.
Rand and Ron Paul share a suspicion of executive power that colors their entire worldview, despite repeated runs for President in Ron’s case (and likely plans to do the same, in Rand’s), and makes for interesting exchanges with ideological opponents.
“I would argue that the Constitution has no exceptions for when you’re having a tough time or when people disagree with you,” Paul said to Kerry when he said during his hearing that he supported some unilateral actions presidents had taken in the past to take military actions in other countries.
Meanwhile, Paul is planning a major foreign policy speech for early February, advisers say, where more of his actual agenda is expected to be put forth. Policy-wise, Paul might not stay much of a maverick in foreign policy, especially when it comes to Israel. But in terms of TV-ready zingers, he’s just getting started.