Americans received a new education on Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's labyrinthine foreign policy views as he sparred with former Vice President Dick Cheney across the Sunday shows.
In a segment that was teased ahead of his appearance on Meet the Press today, Paul was asked by David Gregory if he believes that Cheney is a credible critic of President Obama on the recent turmoil in Iraq. (In case you missed it, Cheney and others have been quite vocal.)
After turning the question around by asking whether supporters of the Second Gulf War had it right about weapons of mass destruction or the ease with which democracy would take root in Iraq, Paul said something pretty remarkable.
And what’s going on now, I don’t blame on President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry."
On he went, linking the consequences of the U.S. invasion of Iraq to an Iranian "hegemony" in the Middle East.
And so we've arrived at one of the weirder moment in the 2016 build-up/Iraq War rehash, where the president's reluctance to get heavily reinvested in Iraq has found a prominent voice of support in the corner of the Republican Party.
Here's the clip of Paul:
Over at This Week, Cheney took a moment out of his lengthy diatribe about President Obama's fecklessness on Iraq and foreign policy to respond to Paul's charges.
Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn't believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world. I think it's absolutely essential."
Cheney added that he fears a new 9/11-style attack, one with much more dangerous weapons instead "airline tickets and boxcutters" and advocated for American troops to be returned to Iraq.
But the takeaway was really the Cheney-Paul divide. The Drudge Siren was sounded:
Rand Paul blames Iraq crisis on Bush administration... http://t.co/QfY29tlHwm— DRUDGE REPORT (@DRUDGE_REPORT) June 22, 2014
Here were a few interesting responses:
Dick Cheney and Rand Paul are having a foreign policy wrong off. Turns out two wrongs now make The Right.— Tina Dupuy (@TinaDupuy) June 22, 2014
For the second time, Cheney calls Rand Paul an isolationist, which underscores why Cheneys are coming out now: It's about Paul, not Obama.— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) June 22, 2014
It could also be argued that Paul is laying some groundwork of his own by drawing focus to the folly of the Iraq War, especially if he ultimately plans to run against candidates (Republicans and one Democrat in particular) who cast ballots for or gave speeches in favor of the Iraq War.
Here is the whole interview with Cheney including the (lengthy) critiques of President Obama and the response to Paul, which begins at the start of the fourth minute.