In our 2010 Republican primary endorsement of Rand Paul, we called him "smart, refreshingly candid and obviously sincere in his convictions" but wondered whether "his political ideas, steeped in theory but untested by reality, would lend themselves to compromise and deliberation or simply marginalize him as a gadfly."
Three years later, that picture isn't a lot clearer.
Paul remains nothing if not candid, as when he recently told a conservative gathering that the GOP has grown "stale and moss-covered." (Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has had nothing but praise recently for his colleague, was apparently listening.)
Paul remains sincere of conviction, as evidenced by his filibuster calling attention to presidential power and drone strikes, and his foreign-policy speeches demanding less U.S. military intervention abroad.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
He has broken ranks with classic small-government libertarians on abortion and recently rejected one of the key tenets of Tea Party dogma by appearing to embrace a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Still, he remains a mercurial and largely untested presence, strait-jacketed by some aspects of far-right ideology, such as the flat tax, drastically slashing foreign aid and eliminating entire departments of the federal government, including Commerce, Energy, Education and Housing.
His budget proposal privatizes Medicare, raises the Social Security retirement age and eliminates the entire Affordable Care Act.
One thing is not in doubt. Whether excoriating an unsuspecting energy department employee over low-flow toilets, ranting about electricity-saving light bulbs, pompously dressing down Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or bringing back the gabfest filibuster, Paul has a knack for attracting and basking in the media spotlight.
But the media can be fickle, and there will be a next-new-thing. If Paul wants to achieve more than his father's fringe political status, he's got a long road ahead. His career will be interesting to observe over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, we hope it's not too much to ask that he devote some fraction of the time and energy to representing the people of Kentucky that he does to his seemingly limitless political ambitions.
IF YOU GO
Sen. Rand Paul speaking on 'Restoring Economic Freedom'
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 27
Where: UK Student Center, Worsham Theatre
Free and open to the public.