According to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), he recently traveled to Central America where he, among other things, met with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina for 45 minutes and discussed politics with the foreign head of state. By his own account, the senator not only condemned President Obama for the recent humanitarian crisis along the U.S./Mexico border, Paul also hoped to undermine U.S. foreign policy during his discussion with Molina.
For reasons I don’t fully understand, this generated very little attention in the political world. American norms dictate that U.S. officials, when traveling abroad, don’t trash the United States while on foreign soil. For that matter, the notion of an American elected official conducting his own freelance foreign policy, working against the U.S. position while meeting with a foreign head of state, seems ridiculous on its face.
Similar controversies in the Bush/Cheney era were considered scandalous in Republican circles, but Paul’s conduct barely caused a ripple. That said, the senator’s office did respond to Democratic criticism with an interesting take.
Responding to the DNC’s comments, Paul’s senior adviser Doug Stafford said the senator “did in Guatemala what he does every day in the United States – speak the truth. Career politicians and political parties don’t get that, but the American people do.”“If the DNC and the White House don’t see that their shredding of the Constitution and abdication of responsibility for securing our border is the problem, they are the only ones,” he added.
Let’s unwrap this a bit, because it’s a pretty remarkable perspective.
According to Rand Paul’s office:
* Elected American politicians can go abroad to undermine U.S. foreign policy so long as the politicians believe what they’re saying is “the truth.”
* Republicans may have considered it scandalous for Americans to travel abroad and condemn U.S. policy from foreign soil, but now only “career politicians and political parties” care about such traditional American norms.
* Using prosecutorial discretion to allow Dream Act kids to avoid deportation is evidence of “shredding” the Constitution.
* Border security has improved to levels unseen in modern American history, which serves as evidence of the “abdication of responsibility for securing our border.”
If there’s any policy coherence to Rand Paul’s take on this, I can’t find it.