RAND PAUL'S LIBERTARIAN ACHILLES' HEEL
By Cliff Kincaid
May 22, 2010
Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, is claiming that the “loony left” is attacking him, after being questioned by MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow about his views on civil rights. It turns out that Paul had announced his bid for the Senate seat on the same Rachel Maddow show and had returned in order to bask in the glow of his victory on Tuesday over Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. It backfired in a big way.
In a statement on his website, Rand Paul says that he is setting the record straight because of the “liberal media attacks” on him. But he made the decision to go on those liberal media programs.
At Accuracy in Media, we understand the ferocious nature of the liberal media, and how they can wage unfair attacks on conservative personalities. In this case, however, he can’t blame the liberal media. He has only himself to blame.
The fast-talking Maddow grilled him on his libertarian views, which sounded incoherent. He fumbled questions about the need for federal civil rights laws, after earlier facing questions from National Public Radio (NPR) on the same topic.
Attacks from Maddow and NPR were to be expected. But why was he on those shows in the first place? Did he think that Maddow, a “progressive,” would endorse him? Did he think that her couple thousand viewers would send him money?
It appears that he has a habit of going on all kinds of TV and radio programs and speaking his mind. For example, he has appeared several times on the Alex Jones radio show. Jones is an advocate of the theory that diabolical U.S. intelligence agencies and other dark forces attacked the United States on 9/11, and that the Muslim agents of al Qaeda who hijacked the planes were patsies. Jones has also become a regular on the propaganda channel Russia Today television, which is financed by the Kremlin, where he has defended the Russian military invasion of Georgia.
The difference between Maddow, NPR and Alex Jones is that Jones is a Rand Paul supporter who raised money for his Senate campaign.
But before Paul deals with his Alex Jones connection, a subject already starting to garner media interest and attention, he has to explain his previously cordial relationship with Rachel Maddow. If he didn’t understand the agenda of Maddow—or MSNBC, for that matter—he is truly confused about the nature of the ideological spectrum. Does this confusion reflect his own views?
His basic dilemma is that he is clearly not a conservative, although he tried to sound like one during the campaign. He is a libertarian, meaning that he combines elements of the right and left. A libertarian tends to hold liberal views on social and foreign policy and conservative views on economic policy.
In practical terms, libertarianism usually means open borders, legal dope and prostitution, abortion and gay rights, and an American military withdrawal from the rest of the world. The conservative aspect of libertarianism is an emphasis on limited government in economic affairs and termination of funding for global institutions such as the United Nations.
The danger for Paul is that, in the end, when his views are finally known, he may not please many conservatives or liberals. Libertarians are well-represented in Washington, D.C., in the activities of the Cato Institute, but the philosophy represents a very small segment of the voting population.
After getting burned in his confrontations with the liberal media, Paul has “clarified” his remarks on civil rights, according to the website of the Laura Ingraham radio program. Paul appeared on Ingraham’s show on Thursday to respond to the media and the liberal bloggers having a field day with his comments. He told Ingraham that the “loony left” was after him.
Asked by Ingraham why he went on the Maddow show, Paul said it was “a poor political decision.” He can’t blame the loony left for that.
For the benefit of Rand Paul and his media advisers, here are the facts: Ingraham is the conservative and Maddow is the liberal. Indeed, Maddow, a lesbian activist, is part of the loony left. So is her network MSNBC.
On Ingraham’s show on Thursday, he finally conceded that Maddow was “on the left.” But this was said in the context of insisting that he had been ambushed by Maddow.
His advisers say he will never make that mistake again.
His attacks on “the left” may rally some conservatives to Rand Paul’s side. But he invited those attacks. And more of those attacks will be coming. The sharks smell blood in the water. They are going for the kill.
Conservatives will ignore that feeding frenzy, of course, while insisting on an explanation of why he drifted to the right during the campaign and seemed to drop some of his previous libertarian views. Was this an effort to appear more conservative than he really was?
Scrutiny of Rand Paul should not be left to Rachel Maddow and NPR. Fox News has a role to play here in analyzing his positions and views. Where does he really stand? Let’s hope that Fox News personalities—some whom like Andrew Napolitano are self-described libertarians—do not automatically fall into Rand Paul’s camp and defend every utterance he makes just because his opponent is a liberal Democrat.
As the process plays out and the media hopefully get beyond “gotcha” journalism and do their jobs, Paul will have learned a hard lesson. Blaming the liberal media when you have yourself to blame is not taking responsibility.
The Tea Party movement, which backs Rand Paul, is about accountability from government. Rand Paul should take responsibility for what comes out of his mouth.
If he thinks he is under fire now, wait until the media start delving into his connection with radio talk-show host Alex Jones.
Actually, they already have. David Corn of Mother Jones is already on it, noting that Rand Paul “has shown sympathy for Jones’ overall view of a world of global conspiracies, and he has expressed support for some of Jones’ unconventional ideas.” Salon.com is also writing about it.
Grayson had tried to warn voters of this kind of thing, running an entire website devoted to Rand Paul’s “strange ideas.” The website has now been closed down but the “strange” ideas and statements cannot be explained away and media interest in them cannot be described as just left-wing or liberal. Conservatives will be demanding an accounting, just as Grayson unsuccessfully tried to do.
Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center, who has been a conservative activist for decades, has spoken out publicly about the dangers of Alex Jones. He has written two major articles on Jones and his relationships, including with a former high-level member of the Lyndon LaRouche cult. LaRouche began his career as a Marxist but his followers have tried to sound conservative on some issues over the years.
What convinced DeWeese that Jones was a threat and not a friend of the conservative or Tea Party movements was what happened in Texas when Catherine Bleish, Executive Director of the Liberty Restoration Project, and John Bush, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government, put together a Tea Party rally.
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DeWeese notes that Jones stormed into the rally “with bull horn in hand, shouting down the speaker who was in the middle of his presentation. He stopped the rally, pushed and shoved organizers who tried to quiet him. He then told his radio audience that he was shouting down agent provocateur- radicals who were trying to infest the freedom movement. Incredibly, he was describing his own tactics and blaming it on others.”
DeWeese came to the conclusion that Jones was a deliberate disruptive force on the right.
Jones is so disruptive that he could damage or even destroy Rand Paul’s campaign. And the part of the Tea Party movement backing Rand Paul could go down with him.
© 2010 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights Reserved
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Cliff Kincaid, a veteran journalist and media critic, Cliff concentrated in journalism and communications at the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Cliff has written or co-authored nine books on media and cultural affairs and foreign policy issues. One of Cliff's books, "Global Bondage: The UN Plan to Rule the World" is still awailable.
Cliff has appeared on Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, Crossfire and has been published in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Chronicles, Human Events and Insight.