When Tea Party maverick Rand Paul came to Washington, he rose from the desk that Henry Clay—an ancient Senator from Kentucky who will remain in American history one of the greatest vocal opponents to abolitionism—once called his own. Paul spoke of the profound honour it was to be an orator, like Clay, in the most impactful legislative body in the world.
However, Paul found no honour in Clay—the “Great Compromiser”—himself. The libertarian’s leanings clash with the 50 years of Clay’s career as a stalwart to slavery in the Capitol.
Clay compromised on the 1824 Presidential election when none of the four candidates (including Clay) could reach a sufficient majority in the Electoral College, resulting in a stalemate. He inevitably backed John Quincy Adams and was appointed Secretary of State under his administration. This is referred to as the ‘corrupt bargain’. The cost of Clay’s endorsement would be working under a man who publicly held anti-slavery sentiments. But compromise also meant gaining a coveted position in the White House, even though it was an administration that disagreed with him on the issue that would eventually be settled thanks to a civil war.
Since delivering his maiden speech in the Senate, Paul too has fallen victim to the compromise of Washington.
The Senator, along with 8 other GOP lawmakers, departed for Israel earlier this month and some surprising revelations came to light concerning his stance on foreign aid to the sole Middle East democracy that—up until now—he had been very much in favour of cutting:
The trip is the latest push to boost Paul’s foreign policy cred as he prepares to take his new seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later this month. It also offers the Senator another chance to distance himself from his father, retiring Texas Rep. Ron Paul, whose libertarian foreign policy views have been widely ridiculed by the GOP.
Like his father, Sen. Paul opposes foreign aid on principle; but he has tempered that position to focus primarily on cutting aid for countries in conflict with the U.S., like Egypt and Pakistan. In recent weeks, the Kentucky Senator has reached out to assure Republican Jewish leaders that he is not interested in cutting funding for Israel. (Business Insider)
Quite a change in tone for a man who once referred to the aid as “welfare” for the Jewish state, but with U.S. support for Israel at an all time high, Paul has little to lose and much to gain by endorsing continued aid to Israel, especially if he has the 2016 Presidential election in his sights.
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On January 16, President Obama issued two Presidential Memorandums and a Proclamation (see here, here and here) in light of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that took place a little more than one month ago. The Presidential Actions direct members of the Executive to commission a study on the causes of gun violence and request the Department of Justice to hasten current investigations into federal gun crimes. These directives will hardly dent gun violence in the United States and President Obama is much aware. That’s why he is demanding legislative action in Congress and has even offered a few proposals for the body to consider.
Those proposals are as follows:
- banning the sale of new “assault weapons”
- banning the sale of high-capacity magazines (over 10 rounds per clip)
- mandating universal background checks
Although they might pass unscathed in the Senate, proposal one and two are dead on arrival once they hit the House.
The third is worth paying closer attention to, especially when 9 in 10 Americans back universal gun background checks.
Over the weeks since Newtown, the central question remains: will the diminishing credibility of the National Rifle Association and the discourse on gun control in the wake of the tragedy lead to action?