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Rand Paul Will Tell RNC Convention to “Audit the Pentagon”

Here’s the revised schedule for the Republican National Convention. Nobody who was previously on the schedule got bumped, though a few may have to truncate their speeches. So Mike Huckabee will still get an opportunity to speak, and Rick Santorum, and the collection of “people of color in the Republican Party we see once every four years.” I especially like the 9:00 hour on Tuesday, which features three Hispanics (Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, soon-to-be Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and some random candidate for Lt. Governor in Delaware named Sher Valenzuela), an Indian-American (South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley) and an African-American (former Dem. Congressman Artur Davis, attempting a comeback with the GOP). What a melting pot! Of course, the true face of the Republican Party can be seen on the floor of the convention, where the delegates are 3% African-American, 5% Hispanic, and 92% white.

They’ve buried Rand Paul in the 7:00 hour on Wednesday – two hours before luminaries like the Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno – but he’s planning to give one of the more interesting speeches of the week. Forget “Audit the Fed,” it’s time to “Audit the Pentagon.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will use his prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention to urge party members to be more open to scrutinizing military spending, a position that puts him in the minority within the GOP […]

“Because we’ve talked about audit the Fed so much, we’re now talking about audit the Pentagon,” Paul told the crowd (at a pre-convention rally for his father, Ron Paul). “Now, because of Hurricane Isaac, it’s not sure whether my message will get to the Republican National Convention, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able speak. And one of the messages that I will give to them is that Republicans need to acknowledge that not every dollar is well spent or sacred in the military and we have to look for ways to make every department accountable.”

John McCain and Kelly Ayotte, who’ve been touring the country in support of higher military spending, will also speak at the convention. And the Romney-Ryan ticket have supported higher military spending in ways that really strain their alleged deficit reduction agenda. But this would be a notable moment, to see a Republican from the stage make the point that the Pentagon does not steward federal dollars responsibly, and must be kept on watch. You could hardly find a place with more bloat in the federal budget than the military. And more important to me, the oversized military budget leads to leaning on the military for operations that could otherwise get done through the diplomatic channel, if that channel had similar resources. If you have the weapons, inevitably you’re going to use them. And so a massive military budget feeds imperial adventures and empire-seeking.

It’s no surprise that the GOP took the opportunity to bury Rand Paul in the schedule, given this anticipated message. But it does show that there’s a sliver of an opportunity for common ground on discrete issues of importance to the left and the right. This kind of bipartisanship isn’t what most of Washington has in mind. But that doesn’t mean a coalition can’t be built.

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David Dayen

David Dayen