A common complaint heard these days is that politicians promise one thing when they are running, and do the opposite once elected. It is a complaint which cuts across party lines and which has formed itself into a loose coalition of democrats, independents and republicans via the TEA party movement.
In a piece by Joe Arnold at WHAS11.com it appears that Rand Paul has gotten a little taste of this dilemma faced by so many candidates in the past, squaring ideology with practicality. In Rand’s case the problem became real during a discussion of the drug interdiction program called Operation UNITE.
Paul has made it very clear that he opposes earmarks and likewise has made his “smaller federal government” stance a focal point of his campaign. As Joe Arnold points out, however, Paul has recently ventured into dangerous territory in Eastern Kentucky where federal funding for Operation UNITE has been thrown in his face.
“I don’t have a specific opinion on UNITE, to tell you the truth,” Paul admitted, “other than to say that, in general, that programs should be more local than federal.” But, Paul added, he does have the opinion that the whole budget should be reviewed.
Conway, meanwhile, said what most county judges wanted to hear.
“Judge,” Conway said to the forum, “you have my steadfast commitment to support Operation UNITE.”
“While it’s easy to say you want to deal with it on the local level, it’s really an all hands on deck situation,” Conway added. [WHAS11.com]
While this might not be as big a problem as Joe’s headline and Conway’s pandering suggest (operation UNITE is a charitable organization which is funded through grants and private organizations) nevertheless this situation does give Rand a glimpse of the difficulties of making his proposed changes in a solidly entrenched system where politics and money are not easily separated.
It is one thing to preach a very general philosophy with widespread appeal by staying on the message that the Federal Government needs to cut spending, cut taxes and reduce the size of the bureauracy, but it will become a much more difficult task to identify the specific cuts which many who agree with Paul, on principle, will rail against when it’s THEIR money on the chopping block.
It won’t be long before Rand Paul is going to have to discuss specifics, and if his closest advisers are not spending long hours taking a hard look at how he will craft that message, look for Conway to try a little magic in the upcoming weeks. It might ring hollow with republicans, but to Kentucky democrats, if Conway can re-define Paul as no better than Obama, a guy with a great campaign but little in the way of skill when it comes to governing, he could score a two-fer, distance disgruntled democrats from Paul and distance himself from his biggest problem.