Don't look now, but Rand Paul is becoming a serious contender for the GOP's 2016 nomination, libertarian views and all. When Paul won CPAC's straw poll, he didn't get the chorus of boos that his dad got when he won. Whereas the elder Paul was an outsider crashing the GOP party, Rand Paul has become an internal force, Steve Kornacki explains at Salon. "The instinct to compare the two Pauls is natural," but "a more interesting comparison might be found in the career of Robert A. Taft."
Taft used New Deal backlash to popularize a similar libertarian flavor of conservatism, and would have captured the GOP's 1952 nomination if the party hadn't changed the rules. Similarly, President Obama's reign has made the GOP more open to libertarianism; Paul's Brennan filibuster proved that. His CPAC speech, meanwhile, "demonstrated his ability to calibrate his message in a way that doesn’t automatically alienate huge chunks of his party." The comparison isn't perfect, but the GOP "is now receptive to Taft-ism in a way that it hasn't been in decades." Click for Kornacki's full column.