You can see already where Rand Paul’s presidential campaign is going to go, and it only just started. Hounded by questions about how he previously viewed important policy positions, he will be a new Mitt Romney. He will no more escape his past than Jeb Bush will escape his – or his brother’s.
We saw the result yesterday with Paul’s meltdown on NBC’s Today Show, where he “mansplained” the interview process to the hapless Savannah Guthrie right there for the whole world to see. This is not Fox News. There are actually people who do not live in the Fox Bubble who saw that.
The mainstream media noticed Mitt Romney’s flip-flops in 2012. How could they not? And they have already noticed Paul’s. Hard to miss when he kicks off his presidential campaign by throwing a hissy fit.
And it didn’t end at NBC. As David Weigel over at Bloomberg Politics explains it, In Fox News Interview, Rand Paul Declares His Old Quotes Off-Limits.
Watch the interview courtesy of Fox News:
That is one way to deal with uncongenial facts though, isn’t it? But that’s not going to fly as a presidential nominee. He’s got to get through 2015 before he can even get to 2016, when things get real.
He can refuse to answer the questions of course, but he cannot stop them from being asked, and not everyone will let it slide – take a “whiff” in Weigel’s words – as Fox News did.
And Paul has flip-flopped in a number of very important areas, including vaccines, the Civil Rights Act, (the domestic use of drones (drone strikes vs. no drone strikes), on immigration (electric fence and constitutional ban vs. amnesty). And of course, most notably right now, Iran (threat vs. non-threat).
This isn’t going to be easy. NBCNews.com has a headline: Rand Paul Has His Own History of Flip-Flops. CNN political commentator Maria Cardona penned an op-ed last August where she called Rand Paul “the flip-flop king.”
The GOP hates it when the mainstream media doesn’t play along.
And in fact, Sean Hannity was trying to offer Paul an “out” – an opportunity to tell people why it’s unimportant how he felt before, as opposed to how he feels now, about all these important matters.
Take Hannity’s question about a 2007 interview in which Libertarian Paul said it was ridiculous to think Iran could threaten America’s security:
“Even our own intelligence community consensus opinion now is that they’re not a threat.”
“You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security,”
And Paul’s answer to Hannity, to whom he did not need to “mainsplain” things:
“You know, things do change over time. I also wasn’t campaigning for myself, I was campaigning to help my father at the time.”
Oh, so if you are campaigning for your father, you can say other stuff. Those are some situational facts you got there, Mr. Paul.
This is a far cry from the NBC interview. Maybe Paul ought to stick to Fox News.
Heck, I just thought it was interesting that context suddenly matters to the GOP. That’s a first. And very convenient, I might add.
So alright, how about when Hannity said, “You took a shot at Dick Cheney back in 2007, saying that maybe…”
And Paul answered, “Once again, before I was involved in politics for myself.”
This was a 2009 video, not long ago at all. If what Paul thought in 2009, the year Barack Obama took office, is a long time ago and therefore off-limits, shouldn’t anything Obama thought in 2009 also be off-limits.
I wonder if Paul will be so respectful of past-comments by his presidential opponents during the Republican debates?
It may all be moot, of course, to the extent that his answers, when he does give them – like this one – mean anything at all (here he falls back on his weaselly Civil Rights Act I want it both ways answer, “that being said/but at the same time”):
Hannity: What is your take on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and—and the Indiana bill, the 1993 bill signed by Hillary Clinton’s husband?
Paul: I think our founders would be aghast that anyone would think that they could tell you what do something—to perform a ceremony or be part of a ceremony that’s against your religious beliefs. You know, that being said, though, I think the law ought to be neutral and I don’t—I don’t think we ought to treat people unfairly and, you know, I’m all for treating people with respect and tolerance … people ought to understand that people’s opinions change through persuasion. And if I really want to convince you to come to my political way of beliefs or my religious beliefs, you know, I don’t go to evangelism, like if I go to Africa, I don’t evangelize by forcing you to accept my religion.
Hannity furthered the GOP lie that the 1993 RFRA and the Indiana RFRA are identical. They’re apples and oranges.
Paul, for his part, didn’t really answer the question, though he certainly got evangelizing right, which won’t endear him to the Religious Right, who think everybody ought to be forced to accept their bastardized form of Christianity.
All these flip-flopping issues may be rendered moot on another level, as Mother Jones tells us. We all know Ron Paul’s extreme rhetoric might serve as a millstone to his son, but now there is a criminal probe that might have far deeper and far-reaching consequences.
Nothing new there: Republican, criminal probe. They go together like religious nuts and bigotry. Rand Paul has got it all. Up until that point at which he loses it all. Which may have been yesterday.
Image from RandPaul.com
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.