Rand Paul opened and closed the completely unnecessary third conservative response to the State of the Union by talking up Ronald Reagan. Because it wouldn't be a Republican speech without invoking Mr. Deficit. "Let me say from the outset I'll work with the president" and Democrats to solve America's economic problems, Paul said. He then couldn't help himself: "That said," he will only work with people who properly understand "the cause of joblessness." The problem? Obviously, it is that "government is inherently bad" at finding businesses that succeed. He cited Solyndra and failed to mention Tesla. He talked about the "billions" lost in the "war on poverty," which is a claim that really needs some citation. (Ha ha ha, like Rand Paul ever gives citation!)

The thing that drives me nuts about Rand Paul is his fake folksy affectations, which come across like he spent a long time watching video of Bill Clinton and decided to engage in a career-long parody of Clintonian mannerisms. "It's not that government's inherently stupid," Paul said. Then he allowed for an overlong pause and added with a forced chuckle: "Although it's a debatable point." Paul praised "the democracy of the market" throughout his speech. "Government spending sounds great," Paul says, but welfare makes "people feel hopeless." The problem, according to him, is that people hate government dependency, but they can't break free because "Big Government gives them no exit."

Here's the thing: Of the three Republican responses, Paul's was the best, by far. It sounded the most like a speech, and though it was stitched together entirely of platitudes lifted from an Ayn Rand novel, Paul didn't come across like a robot or a creepy Utahn in his delivery. He didn't talk about anything real, but he talked capably about nothing. It's by virtue of his ability to sound almost kind of like a human being when he's speaking that he's become one of the leading lights of the Republican Party. I'm a little disappointed that he didn't include a reference to Gattaca anywhere in his speech, though.