Op-Ed: Rand Paul's RNC Speech Underwhelming

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(Photo: fitsnews.com)

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s RNC speech had the good fortune of following Sen. Mitch McConnell because it didn’t require much for him to outshine the senate minority leader. Mealy-mouthed and garbled (Mitt Ryan?), was this McConnell’s first speech? Yet Paul was also relegated to the ratings wasteland of the early evening and hours before headliner and VP nominee Paul Ryan would speak.

After a flattering video tribute to Ron Paul, son Rand Paul’s speech was two words that don’t normally complement each other: tolerable and brave. Together, that made it underwhelming.

Opening with zingers on the unconstitutionality of the Supreme Court-upheld ObamaCare, Paul joined in the Republican chorus of beating to death President Obama’s “You didn’t build that” flub.

It’s rare for a politician to actually invoke founding fathers by name, so the shout-out to James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution” was a pleasant surprise, but Senator Paul might want to busy himself with Kevin Gutzman’s great biography of Madison for a reminder that Hamilton and Madison did not always duke it out.

The final endorsement of Romney was expected, but it wasn’t overly nauseating. Everyone knew this was coming – it was undoubtedly the price for the speaking slot. The endorsement was neither so grand that the informed viewer would forget that the speaker was the son of Ron Paul nor was it so tepid that it sounded like a forced confession. Considering what he had to work with, Rand Paul essentially stated what others had said: that the case for Mitt Romney is the case against Barack Obama.

Rand Paul may wage a presidential run himself in four or eight years, but it won’t be because of this speech.

There were high hopes, mine included, that this would be a good introduction of Rand Paul to the rest of the country. But confined to a bad time and filling his speech with Republican cliches about “American Exceptionalism” and harping on the “You didn’t build that” gaffe virtually assures that this speech will be forgotten to history.

The standard by which I typically judge convention speeches is Pat Buchanan’s “Culture War” speech in 1992. Blunt and fearless, the speech is still loved and reviled twenty years later.

But neither was it Barack Obama’s 2004 convention speech proclaiming, “There’s not a liberal America or a conservative America – there is the United States of America.”

These two speeches were obviously different in scope, but they are remembered because they weren’t re-heated TV dinners given by every other speaker at their respective conventions. The speeches could not be ignored and they defined the men who gave them.

What would have made Paul’s speech explosive is if he had moved beyond his quick mention of Benjamin Franklin’s oft-quoted, “Never trade liberty for security” to make an appeal for a humble foreign policy. It was definitely not the focus of his speech.

Yet this was a far cry from the veteran’s rally held in 2008 where the themes were, in no particular order: war, jingoism, and militarism. That an implicit denunciation of the Patriot Act and TSA are even permitted at a Republican National Convention four years later is proof that a little has changed in the GOP.

Rand Paul was brave – while playing it safe.

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  1. James Morris Where Do We Go Next? by Philip Giraldi -- Antiwar.com http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2012/08/29/where-do-we-go-next/
  2. Brandon Fallon I liked when he mentions the parties "sacred cows. There are some good points where Republicans can gain something by listening to Rand and Ron Paul.
  3. OccidentalObserver.net gullible zombie. Look at record, not words. Rand Paul's voting record is not perfect but it is the best by any senator in 100 years. Better than Goldwater, Reagan, ... http://voteview.com/SENATE_SORT112.HTM
  4. Mike Hicks Endorsing Romney after the disgraceful way his father's delegates were treated? He should have gone off script, denouncing the corruption until they dragged him bodily off stage yelling "Vote for Johnson!" It would have been a decisive turning point.
  5. Mo Dennis play along to get along....sigh. It's one thing to say you support him, another to have the RNC Crime Convention ask you to speak and basically thumb your nose at the only Statesman in congress.
  6. Hugh MacKay Can't write, I'm still puking.
  7. Steven Westcot It really bothered me that he didn't mention his father by name. If that was due to the needed Romney approval, then I think that speaks volumes about the possible ramifications of a Romney administration. I'm not a fan of Republicans, but I don't like the Democrats either. I side with freedom, I side with Gary Johnson.
  8. Danica Hurd So is Paul's political balancing act worth it? Do four carefully worded wind-spitting paragraphs indicate that the Republican Party is inching toward a less interventionist and less costly foreign policy? Last night answered the second of those two questions, anyway: Oh hell no. A few minutes after Rand Paul wrapped, the GOP's 2008 nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), delivered a stern warning to not even think about cutting military spending. http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/30/american-exceptionalism-routs-paul-famil
  9. Dedra Stewart I found it very interesting in an odd way. It left me with no other option but to read between the lines. His body language spoke volumes! I personally found it interesting that he only said Mitt's name 1 time. He really didn't look that pleased to say it then. He was definitely told what he could and couldn't say. I think he did the best he could with what he was ALLOWED to work with. IMHO
  10. Barbara Byram I had to turn it off. Couldn't stand to listen to more of his BS.
30 comments
Suzanne Stewart
Suzanne Stewart

Romney's team vetted everyone speeches. He did what he was allowed to do or not speak at all that that would not have been good.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

You hit the nail on the head Carl. Well articulated.

Mike Van Roy
Mike Van Roy

What happened to the Audit The Pentagon speech he promised his dad's supporters a couple days before?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

What is the difference between Rand Paul, Wayne Allyn Root and a female dog?

A dog won't automatically roll over for Romney.

Dedra Stewart
Dedra Stewart

I found it very interesting in an odd way. It left me with no other option but to read between the lines. His body language spoke volumes! I personally found it interesting that he only said Mitt's name 1 time. He really didn't look that pleased to say it then. He was definitely told what he could and couldn't say. I think he did the best he could with what he was ALLOWED to work with. IMHO

Barbara Byram
Barbara Byram

I had to turn it off. Couldn't stand to listen to more of his BS.

Robert That's-me
Robert That's-me

he was outstanding. Rand is not a fiery speaker. He stood up and spoke his honest truth about Obamacare, currency, the Fed and free people. What did people expect, a gatling gun of attacks on the GOP?

I am not happy with govt, but glad for Rand Paul's reasons approach.

Occidentalobserver
Occidentalobserver

Besides your right to free speech, what are your accomplishments in the service of liberty that gives you the moral force to criticize Rand Paul?

Did you accumulate wealth, wrote books, became a Austrian Economics Professor or run for House of Senate?

Var Enyo
Var Enyo

He reminds me of Kevin McCarthy. He also talks a good line about conservative spending then spends like a drunken sailor on things for his buddies like a new airport terminal. Always the first with his hand out for a check too.

Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

I liked when he mentions the parties "sacred cows. There are some good points where Republicans can gain something by listening to Rand and Ron Paul.

Mike Hicks
Mike Hicks

Endorsing Romney after the disgraceful way his father's delegates were treated? He should have gone off script, denouncing the corruption until they dragged him bodily off stage yelling "Vote for Johnson!" It would have been a decisive turning point.

Mo Dennis
Mo Dennis

play along to get along....sigh. It's one thing to say you support him, another to have the RNC Crime Convention ask you to speak and basically thumb your nose at the only Statesman in congress.

Steven Westcot
Steven Westcot

It really bothered me that he didn't mention his father by name. If that was due to the needed Romney approval, then I think that speaks volumes about the possible ramifications of a Romney administration. I'm not a fan of Republicans, but I don't like the Democrats either. I side with freedom, I side with Gary Johnson.

Danica Hurd
Danica Hurd

So is Paul's political balancing act worth it? Do four carefully worded wind-spitting paragraphs indicate that the Republican Party is inching toward a less interventionist and less costly foreign policy?

Last night answered the second of those two questions, anyway: Oh hell no.

A few minutes after Rand Paul wrapped, the GOP's 2008 nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), delivered a stern warning to not even think about cutting military spending.

http://reason.com/archives/2012/08/30/american-exceptionalism-routs-paul-famil

Hal Dunn
Hal Dunn

Probably the best speech of the entire RNC.

Jesse Kilgore
Jesse Kilgore

He did fine IMO. I wish the Repubs would have at least let him mention his fathers name during the speech rather then saying "That other Senator..." but whateva.. I'm still not sure who I will vote for but Im leaning heavy toward Gary Johnson as of right now.

Debra Hopkins
Debra Hopkins

I suppose it was approved by Romney staffers. Ron Paul refused to speak because they wanted to "write" the speech he would give and he would have to endorse Romney. I guess Rand jumps and says how high when the establishment calls. Ah, the politically corrupt ladder to climb.

Kathy Jones
Kathy Jones

Did not watch as I do not vote on speeches.

Ariel H Fradin
Ariel H Fradin

A traitor to his own family, and everything his father stands for. What a cad!

Naomi Took
Naomi Took

The speech made me feel like there was life after this election but not exactly excited about it. I hope that tightrope Rand is walking takes the Republican party back to its Conservative principles.

Patty Mastella Rakus
Patty Mastella Rakus

That video was a joke.....Some food for thought............... Ya know people.....We do have other presidential choices....Why do we only chew on the politicians that the media feeds us....Im getting pretty tired of chewing on Turkey....There are other fish in the sea that the media fails to feed us....Fish that arent bought but are free. CHEW ON THAT FOR A WHILE :)