Peter King's defense of the NSA program isn't particularly newsworthy. It's quite clear that as a member of both the House Homeland Security and the Intelligence Committees, he has a personal interest in making it look like Congress is actually doing their constitutionally-mandated oversight, which the most recent revelations by the Washington Post makes evident they are not.
So Peter King's appearance today on State of the Union is more than a little bit of CYA. At this point, I don't think there's anything any politician could say about the NSA program that I would accept at face value, and polls are showing that I'm hardly alone.
So leaving that alone, the thing I find more noteworthy is that Peter King really, really doesn't like Rand Paul and is willing to break Reagan's commandment to take him down a peg or two.
“That was just a grab bag of misinformation and distortion,” he said. “Take Rand Paul’s own numbers. He says there’s billions of phone calls being collected—it’s not even true, but let’s assume he’s being right for once. You juxtapose that with 2,800 violations, which were self-reported by the NSA, not violating anybody’s rights—you’re talking about 1,900 being foreigners, and when they came to the U.S., their foreign mobile phone wasn’t immediately transferred over the way they were supposed to be.”
“To me, a scandal is when a government agency is somehow using information to hurt people or go after them,” King continued. “Whatever mistakes were made were inadvertent. If you have a 99.99% batting average, that’s better than most media people do, most politicians do.”
Yeah, okay, there was more qualifications and deflection in those few short lines than I could unpack in a day of blogging. But what it tells me beyond the NSA program is that Rand Paul has a REALLY tough slog to get the Republican presidential nomination because the Republican Party is not going to help him along at all.
Scoff if you will, but no matter how popular Paul may or may not be with voters, if the party isn't behind him, his campaign is already hurting. Did you ever wonder why no Democrat in the House jumped to Anthony Weiner's defense when the initial Twitter scandal came out? Weiner hadn't ingratiated himself to his party at all. Same with Dennis Kucinich when he was districted out with barely a peep from the party at large. Likewise, though he's still a darling with the tea party voters, Allen West was a thorn in the Republican Party's side and no one in DC was sorry to see him be a one-term representative.
For as much as compromise and bipartisanship is scorned by the extremists of the GOP, Washington DC is very much still an industry town and they demand fealty to their power structure. And if Rand Paul is going to build a campaign around being outside that power, he's just created a two front battle for himself.
Or maybe Peter King is just setting himself up as a better presidential candidate.