That's certainly not the formula George W. Bush used in his second term. John McCain and Mitt Romney didn't go that way either. No, they stuck to a tried and true formula. They showed their bipartisan spirit by being tougher on other Republicans than their Democrat opponents. When they did disagree with their opponents, they used lots of forgettable boiler plate language to make sure it didn't stick in anybody's mind. No sir, they didn't go in for any of these flashy attention-grabbing tactics like marathon filibusters.
Moreover, doesn't Rand Paul understand that the Republican Party's consensus strategy is to stay perpetually on defense? The Democrats attack and we spend all our time explaining that we're not horrible people. If a Republican in D.C. does fire back, we have to make sure that it's so boring that no one even remembers what was said five minutes later. After all, effective criticism gets the attention of the liberals in the press and they might say mean things about us. If it really scores points, Rachel Maddow might even call you a racist and David Frum might write that people like you are ruining the Republican Party. Are we really going to win that way?
Of course, not! Ideally, we'd just retreat on every issue, but these doggone conservatives who vote Republicans into office keep demanding that the politicians they send to D.C. actually represent their values and interests. How unreasonable can you get? Everybody knows the way that Republicans win is by convincing everyone that they're just like the Democrats, but not quite as a bad. Then when the Democrats screw up badly enough, people will realize that we're the lesser of two evils and then we'll get into office and prove it!
Granted, there are other establishment approved tactics we can pursue: Like talking tough about how we're not ever going to give in on principles and then folding or making lots of noise about how horrible Obama's cabinet nominees are before we allow them to be confirmed. It's also perfectly acceptable for Republican politicians to whine that Democrats aren't being fair, call for more bipartisanship, or to promise to do the right thing later on in exchange for doing more of the wrong thing now.
Really, that's the worst thing about Rand Paul's irresponsible little stunt. Twitter and Facebook were going wild, people were tuning into C-SPAN for hours at a time to watch, Libertarians were saying nice things about a Republican, and conservatives across the country loved it. When you create that kind of energy and on top of it, you WIN, it can only lead to demands for more of the same.
Is that really a road we want to go down? Actually trying to succeed? After all, trying to win is hard! The liberal mainstream media will criticize you if you're effective. The comfortable same old, same old has to change. You can't keep relying on the same well connected consultants, leaders, and old faces that keep failing and you have to turn to new voices. Isn't it better to be thought of as reasonable, moderate fellows who lose honorably while the country slides into oblivion than it is to actually strive for victory? John McCain and Lindsey Graham think so and it's EXACTLY that kind of approach that has been causing the Republican Party to lose.