This Friday, President Obama will gut Rand Paul's presidential raison d'etre. With the president's proposal that NSA's data collection be recommitted to the private phone companies whence it came, Paul's shtick of bugabooing Millennial minds with the grim spectre of big, black, badass government haunting their cell phones will whimper and stagger largely to a dispositive end.
That, the unbridled surveillance state, was to be the basis of Paul's great outreach to America's youth residing in her bluer locales--an outreach not entirely without merit. With Obama's pullback, however, Paul will be back to square one; he'll be left with Birmingham, but no Berkeley. But of course Paul would already have Birmingham, as well as all the other scarlet fetters which have defined his party as sickly and utterly regional.
Still, let's not overplay the erstwhile potential of Paul's civil libertarian "threat" to Hillary Clinton's unfortunate candidacy. Yes he possessed an outside shot of enlisting a few youthful neurotics here and there, but such were the outside bounds of the Paulite revolution, reminiscent of the father's. For as Michael Tomasky skillfully noted yesterday, "In survey after survey, Millennials, on issue after issue"--activist government, healthcare, same-sex marriage, marijuana legalization, abortion, immigration reform--"have views diametrically opposed to Paul’s."
In short, Rand Paul was never a hazard to Hillary's ascension. Pesky, but not hazardous. Tomasky conceded (italics mine) that "Those who care about the surveillance issue more than anything else may well select him over Clinton, who after all is associated with these policies of the Obama administration." But just what surveillance-state policy will Hillary now inherit? The Paulite edition, which will leave the eponymous critic without his own.