Jacob Heilbrunn

Rand Paul And Ending American Aid to Israel

Sen. Rand Paul did it. He told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that all foreign aid should be halted. Even the $3 billion a year that Israel collects. Paul's point is simple: we can't afford it. Keep shelling out precious American money to foreign mendicants and soon enough we won't be able to fund Medicare.

To be sure, it took some prodding from Blitzer. Paul prefaced his remarks with some pious bows toward Israel's great worthiness as a fount of democracy in the Middle East. But he didn't flinch.

Paul's remarks signify that he is set to become a disaster for the GOP and to remain a hero for the Tea Party. The GOP actually might have made inroads with Jewish voters in 2012. But if Paul sends up enough signal flares against Israel, he's going to make Jewish voters extremely nervous about the GOP's overall position. For House Republican leader Eric Cantor, a pal of William Kristol, Paul is a certified nightmare. Already Democrats are seizing upon Paul's remarks to trumpet their own Israel bona fides and induce doubts about the GOP's loyalty to the Jewish state.

Paul evinces every sign of sticking to his Tea Party positions. His maiden address in the Senate, as Dana Milbank pointed out in the Washington Post, consisted of a lengthy denunication of the "Great Compromiser" Henry Clay. How weird is that? Talk about dissing a Kentucky homestate hero. That's like saying Seattle Slew wasn't really a great race horse. Paul's point was that he won't compromise and that Clay foolishly did. (In fact Clay helped keep the United States from splitting in two. He also happened to be a hero of Abraham Lincoln's. But never mind.)

The real story is that Paul is going to give the GOP heartburn over the next few years, as he drubs Israel, attacks the size of the Pentagon budget, and demands retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan. Paul is going to be a media lightning rod. Most politicians work to try and sand off their edges. Not Paul. There may not be a Pauline conversion in the GOP, but it can hardly be doubted that Rand Paul will journey far and wide to spread his credo. Could he even be preparing for a run for the presidency? Stranger things have happened.

Image © Gage Skidmore