Rand Paul’s mixed victory: The Patriot Act, now regarded as the most euphemistically titled bill since the “Affordable Care Act,” was allowed to expire on Sunday night. This means the NSA’s authority for bulk-collection of American phone records (among other surveillance methods) has been ended.

None of the amended versions of the massive legislation reached both chambers’ approval before the renewal deadline, in large part to the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul, who has made the NSA/domestic spying a prime target of his presidential campaign.

“Yesterday, I forced the expiration of the NSA’s illegal spying program. Contribute $5 now to show your support,” Rand tweeted.

Rand is now trying to capitalize on what can only be seen as a policy win, in the spirit of the original Ron Paul revolution. But his biggest victory to date is rather mixed, for it has also revealed one of his biggest weaknesses as a candidate: his seeming inability to allow the issue to work for him (instead of working the issue for his benefit).

One example was his strange assertion on the Senate floor that his opposition was actually hoping for a terrorist attack so they could blame him for it. His corresponding back-pedaling on Fox News underscores both what really works, and what really doesn’t, about Rand’s presentation as a candidate.

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