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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Partisanship, Opportunism, in Paul Affair

By now everyone knows that Rand Paul stepped in it when he suggested that he was uncomfortable with the federal government telling a private business how to act even if that action was blatantly racist. That statement has lead to a firestorm that continues to follow him today.

Outside the GOP rally, about two-dozen protesters held signs rebuking Paul. One read "Rand the Klan's man." Another, held by a black woman, read "Should I not be served?"

One of the protesters, University of Louisville student Perry Green, who is black, called Paul's comments about discrimination disturbing."It's fundamentally un-American to discriminate along the lines of race or gender and these sorts of things," he said.

The media is literally giddy about the prospect of milking this for all it's worth.

I felt he was cagey on NPR, but no cagier than a lot of politicians on a lot of subjects. The sum and substance of his position - that he abhors racism (of course) but has misgivings about the government telling private businesses what to do wasn't so surprising given his ideology.

Then, last night, he was stupid enough to appear on Rachel Maddow's show, for a long segment. She crushed him. You can watch it here, on Joan Walsh's blog. The full segment is 19 minutes. You can skip the first 9:00 and watch the main back-and-forth, or if you want to cut right to the chase go to about 15:00 and watch the last four minutes.

Maddow had something Robert Siegel did not: lots of time. So she really bore down. By the end, he looked ridiculous. She asked point blank if he thought Woolworth's (a private business) should have been able to retain the right to desegregate its lunch counters in the 1960s, yes or no. He wouldn't answer.

All of this is entirely disingeuous and here's why.

The same media now giddy over Paul had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover the story of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Here we had a Presidential candidate's pastor for 20 years who is blatantly racist and blatantly anti American.

What does the Rand Paul story tell us about Rand Paul? It says that his roots are so libertarian that he is UNCOMFORTABLE with the federal government telling a private business what to do even if they're telling them to stop a blatantly racist policy.

Which is worse exactly? Which is more important? Yet, they will milk this story. They will try and hang this around Paul and define him with it. Meanwhile, the same media wanted to do anything but cover Jeremiah Wright.


AG said...

Well, if Obama decided to come out and propagate Reverend Wright's views himself, I'm sure someone would take notice. But as of right now, nobody seriously believes Obama holds those views.

Paul, on the other hand, questioned the Constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act directly. Then he compounded it by questioning the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal minimum wage law afterward.

To the best of my knowledge, Obama hasn't enacted or espoused any black nationalist views. He was upset by Louis Gates' arrest on disorderly conduct, a catchall that basically allows cops to arrest anyone, but that's hardly a black nationalist view. But Paul's views are practically his raison d'etre, if not the whole libertarian movement.

Personally, I don't think Rand Paul is racist, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who'd turn our country in to the Wild West, which is almost worse.

mike volpe said...

Really, what was he doing in the pews for 20 years? Are you serious? If he didn't agree with the guy, he sure had a funny way of showing it. He had no problem with anything said there for decades and only when it became a political liability did he become morally outraged. What do you call that exactly?

Joe said...

The most problematic issue with Obama/Wright is that Obama had his children attend Wright's church. Obama either has to be a heartless politician willing to expose his family to such terrible hate to move up in his career, or he believes in Wright's teachings and wants to instill the same values to his kids.

Both conclusions are very problematic and raise serious questions to who Obama is and what his values are - all unexamined by the media. Politicians have been able to make their children off-limits to media questioning (which is good), but what better window into someone's values than what they teach their kids? What better way to 'propagate Wright's views' than to let them be taught to your kids. That's quite a mixed signal to send to your kids if you disagree with Wright's thoughts.

Regarding the Paul issue: The media would irresponsibly label him a racist to shut him up. The real problem for America at large is how to find a reasonable balance between individual freedom vs tolerance and the 'common good'. Paul falls almost completely on the individual freedom side (despite some negative outcomes from such) and we should be discussing the merits and faults of that thought rather than labeling such people racists to stifle discussion.

Anonymous said...

Rand Paul is politically naive.

He is a good man - but really lives in la la land.

The constitution is not without flaws.

Why worship a document that was created hundreds of years ago in a different time. Treating it as if its some kind of holy work that will lead the US to the promised land.

Kind of like being a fundamentalist Christian.

Mike, I think you like him because he might lower your taxes.

mike volpe said...

That last comment speaks for itself. You shouldn't worship the Constitution just follow it since it governs the nation.

I don't worship Paul. I've barely mentioned him. I do,however, hate this kind of opportunistic demonization.