Duds and Demons, Part II: Why are there so many questions about Rand Paul?
Before I go on, take a look at this:
You will be lucky to stumble upon a more vicious negative ad in this, or any other, election cycle. The events took place while the Republican candidate, Rand Paul, was at College, a time in America where privileged white boys act outrageously as a rite of passage. George W. kept at it until his 40th birthday when he gave up drinking but not quickly enough to avoid finding god.
But what’s not to love about “Aqua Buddha”?
The ad certainly hit a nerve. Here is Rand Paul’s response to this in a debate with his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, yesterday (Sunday). The clip was edited and disseminated by his own campaign — the planned rebuttal, in other words. I have seen another clip where Paul appears to lose his grip a tad and I will upload that once I can find it.
Here is the planned rebuttal to start with:
Dud or Demon? Gosh, this is a tough one.
The rule of an effective line of political attack is that it fills in with pen what is already written in pencil. By that measure, the ad makes some tactical sense.
In isolation, Rand Paul’s College shenanigans would seem like a stretch. Who doesn’t make a dick of themselves at that age, especially among the fratboy milieu? But this ad may work because it fits Rand Paul’s profile as somewhat other-worldly and extreme. Paul is an avowed libertarian, son of Congressman Ron Paul, the one-time candidate for Prez who has a fanatical following among Fountainhead-reading campus virgins. Rand (short for Randall, not named after Ayn Rand) was publicly humiliated by liberal cable host, Rachel Maddow, for his opposition to aspects of the Civil Rights Act and, since that interview, has been all but invisible in the national media. Even in Kentucky, support for the rights of lunch counter proprietors to ban black people is a distinctly minority position.
Kentucky is socially conservative and Rand Paul hails from another wing of the Republican Party altogether. He is not a natural fit. His position on the role of government works as generic slogans — “slash the deficit”, “end the bailouts”, “smaller government”, etc. — but not so well at the micro level — cutting Medicare and Social Security. In any other year, he would be too far-right to win the Republican nomination, let alone the general election. In 2010, he is leading in the polls.
In running this ad, Democrats are hoping.
People are inclined to think Rand Paul is out of the mainstream already and this ad will convince them he is too much of a risk.
Republicans, on the other hand, are hoping that pundits who predict the ad will backfire are right.
Jack Conway is desperate and out of control. No man should attack another’s Christianity.
Who’s right? Who knows?
The special place given to religion in these cases shits me to tears — why isn’t it fair game? — but there is no doubt that Conway is testing the limits of acceptable speech here. Because religious belief is so utterly indefensible, it makes sense that believers have built a taboo around the idea of challenging it.
The test of this ad’s effectiveness won’t be in the public reaction to it. Of course people will say they are offended. Everyone hates negative ads and it is often said that they will backfire. When they are well-aimed, they almost never do.
Along with Colorado and West Virginia. this will be a race worth keeping an eye on to see who is right. One way or another, this ad and Paul’s response to it will have a bearing on the outcome in this race.
Whatever happens, the line “why are there so many questions about Rand Paul?” is totally inspired. If there is a better way to frame the case against a slightly dubious, high risk opponent, I have yet to hear it.