What does this mean for the GOP? It is a reminder that, however reassuring his manner, it is impossible for Rand Paul to join the Republican mainstream. The triumph of his ideas and movement would fundamentally shift the mainstream and demolish a century and a half of Republican political history. The GOP could no longer be the party of Reagan's internationalism or of Lincoln's belief in a strong union dedicated to civil rights.
The Hunter matter is also a reminder that Rand Paul is a conviction politician. His convictions, however, are the problem. In January, Hunter wrote that the "philosophy hasn't substantively changed" between Ron Paul and his son. Rand Paul's goal is to legitimize the Paulite movement, not repudiate its worst elements. But his ties to those elements may put an upward limit on his political rise.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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