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Opening Arguments

Hot trio

Forget those intricately structured GOP presidential debates that are going to be coming along. Unless they drastically reshape them (which is doubtful), we're not going to get anything more than sound bites out of them. They'll be pretty useless in helpng us to really understand where the candidates stand and what philosophical umbrella they under. Something like this is much more helpful:

An economic policy panel discussion sponsored by a Koch-backed free market group turned into a foreign policy debate between Senator Rand Paul (R.Ky.), Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Senator Ted Cruz (R. Texas)

“I’m kinda surrounded on this one,” Paul cracked as ABC’s Jonathan Karl opened up a conversation about President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba, which Cruz and Rubio oppose.

Paul defended his tweets suggesting that Rubio’s preferred policy towards Cuba is a form of “isolationism” and announced his opposition to increasing economic sanctions on Iran at a time when President Obama is trying to negotiate a deal to halt their nuclear program.

Karl kicked off the conversation by asking Paul to defend his tweets suggesting that Rubio was following an “isolationist” foreign policy by defending an embargo against Cuba. It was an interesting moment, especially in light of how Tim Pawlentywas damaged during the 2012 primaries by his refusal to reiterate his “Obamneycare” attack on Mitt Romney during a presidential debate.

And it's three of the right people in the debate -- Rand the libertarian- leaning, Cruz the conservative, and Rubio the moderate. I think voters really need to hear discussions like these as they decide which direction the GOP needs to edge into, not just to have the best shot at liberal Democrats but to serve the country and move it in the right direction. That's a much more helpful exchange than a "debate" among tired old war horses who want to show us which one has the best "Democrat Lite" platform to woo the great mass of allegedly nonpartisan voters stuck somewhere between the two parties.

This foreign polcy debate had an interesting twist. Libertarians have the reputation of being isolationist, but here it was Paul who accused the other two of isolationism. I'm not sure how much I buy his argument that having trade embargoes against countries with human rights abuses is isolationist, but I tend to share his skepticism of economic sanctions.

Throw in a couple of governors, and we can get a very lively, pruductive discussion going. Hey, it's not like I'm philosophically opposed to plucking out a first-term senator for the White House, but, well, you know . . .