Jacob Heilbrunn

Rand Paul for President?

That was fast. Word is that Sen. Rand Paul already sees himself as presidential timber. He may have only been in office for a few months, but already Paul is pondering a run. In South Carolina he declared "the only decision I've made is I won't run against my father."

His father, of course, is Rep. Ron Paul, the longtime legislator and foe of the Federal Reserve. In this, it truly is like father, like son. Both share the same libertarian outlook on the world. Ron has always been a charismatic figure on the right, someone who sticks to his rhetorical guns, regardless of the fallout. He loathes the New Deal, the welfare state, the military-industrial complex, and pretty much everything else associated with the modern American state.

His son has already outstripped him, at least in terms of political success. It would be a logical step for him to run for the presidency. But this soon? Maybe he's angling for a spot on the ticket as vice-president.

Here's an idea: a Paul-Paul ticket. He could run as the junior member to his father. Voters would know that they were, in essence, getting the very same article should Rand ever have to succeed his father in office. There would be no mystery about the vice-president. Nor would it be unconstitutional, no small point for men who are sticklers, to put it mildly, about the Constitution. As TPM points out, the two men are from different states.

What this means, however, is that the GOP is going to have a Pauline problem for many decades. Ron Paul caused waves at the Reagan library when he denounced America's intevention abroad, causing Rudoph Giuliani to go into paroxysms of rage. But Rand believes that America should butt out abroad as well, and he won't be shy about announcing it, either. Together with Haley Barbour, who has been scoffing at President Obama's intervention in Libya, they could help shake up the 2012 field.

It's another sign that the GOP establishment is on the defensive. The Tea Party, far from fading, appears to be gathering strength for 2012. The party's grandees are not.