As part of the fallout of Senator Randall Paul's thirteen hour filibuster, Representative Paul Ryan was invited to have lunch with President Barack Obama. Meanwhile the answer that Senator Paul received was a quickly written memo signed by Attorney General Holder and not an answer from President Obama himself.
Although many libertarians are still skeptical about Senator Paul, the symbolism of the luncheon with President Obama and Representative Ryan clearly show that the mainstream of both parties are very unhappy with what Senator Paul did.
The first line of attack was to get many of Senator Paul's Republican peers to describe his activities in a negative light. For example, he was described as a "crazy bird" by Senator McCain, and that was hardly the worst said about the filibuster. The effort was to ensure that he was seen not as a focus of resistance to President Obama but as someone outside the acceptable realm of debate.
The luncheon was very symbolic and very profound. President Obama did not invite Senator Paul to the lunch. Had he done so it would have legitimized Senator Paul for daring to question whether the president has unlimited authority with the drone program.
Instead Representative Ryan was invited. To a libertarian this appears to be two Washington insiders meeting with each other, but to the mainstream press this is seen as opposition leaders meeting with each other. Therefore the purpose of the lunch was to legitimize Representative Ryan as President Obama’s opponent.
It is very important for the status quo to see Representative Ryan instead of Senator Paul as the opposition. Representative Ryan has carefully cultivated an image as being the staunch Republican leader of opposition to President Obama. During the 2012 Republican Party convention, after the party rejected any input from delegates and supporters of Representative Ron Paul, insulted them, marginalized them, and disenfranchised them, the choice of Paul Ryan was rather laughably offered as a way to win those votes back. In 13 hours Senator Paul proved that he actually does provide opposition in ways that Representative Ryan never did.
On budget issues, Senator Paul actually submitted a budget proposal that had $500 billion in actual cuts. These were not the “smaller increases” that are so commonly called cuts in Washington. This means that Senator Paul, and not Representative Ryan, is the true budget hawk.
The subject of the filibuster is even more important. Senator Paul was speaking on an issue that theoretically should garner support from disillusioned supporters of President Obama. The filibuster painted President Obama as firmly pro-war and siding with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.
It is the neoconservative wing that led to the last several defeats of the Republican Party, and it is the wing seeking reform, a very loose coalition of the Tea Party movement, some old guard paeloconservatives, and the remaining libertarians who have not yet fled the Republican Party, that led to many of the victories over the last few years. If the Republican Party is to have a future it will need to come from that base, but that base is a threat to the current leadership of the party.
Allegedly the Tea Party had already been nullified. The movement had in general been coopted by having Sarah Palin and Glen Beck take over as the leaders and spokespeople for the party, and then by having Representative Bachmann become the leader of the House Tea Party Caucus. Then in the 2012 presidential race, the candidate who was the least appealing to the Tea Party movement was the one that won the primary.
Representative Ryan is being offered as an alternative to Senator Paul as the leader of the future of the Republican Party. He would be a fresh face on an old arrangement, and the media would gladly sell him that way. Both parties would prefer that, and that is why President Obama met with Representative Ryan instead of Senator Paul.