TOM KLUDT – APRIL 15, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT
Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens revisited one of his favorite themes on Monday, arguing once again that what Republicans really need is another defeat in a national election.
According to Stephens, a Rand Paul presidential nomination in 2016 ought to do the trick. The columnist offered an endorsement of the Kentucky Senator that oozed with sarcasm.
No, what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.
This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.
Stephens took aim at Paul's former staffer Jack Hunter, whose troubling past includes a defense of Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist also mocked Paul's suggestion in 2009 that Dick Cheney wanted a war in Iraq to deliver profits to Halliburton.
If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let's not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.
And so he should be. Because maybe what the GOP needs is another humbling landslide defeat. When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.
This isn't new territory for Stephens. Anticipating President Obama's eventual re-election, Stephens wrote in early-2012 that "Republicans deserve to lose."
A week after the GOP's disappointing showing in the election that year, Stephens urged the party to "get a grip." He wrote that the GOP base should "demand an IQ exam as well as a test of basic knowledge from our congressional and presidential candidates." He also called on Republicans to stop "demonizing Latin American immigrants" and "tone down the abortion extremism."
"Our republican experiment in self-government didn't die last week," Stephens wrote following the election. "But a useful message has been sent to a party that spent too much of the past four years listening intently to echoes of itself. Change the channel for a little while."