Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 20, 2010

RAND PAUL ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY.... As the controversy over his remarks on the Civil Rights Act gains steam, Republican Senate hopeful Rand Paul seems to realize that the story is getting away from him. Paul's campaign in Kentucky issued a statement about an hour ago, intending to "set the record straight."

Most of the 325-word statement is about what one would expect -- the right-wing ophthalmologist opposes racism and discrimination; he believes the "federal government has far overreached in its power grabs"; the "liberal establishment" is out to get him, etc.

But here's the heart of the matter:

"Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.

"As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years."

Let's unpack this a bit. Rand Paul doesn't want to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I'm glad, but that's not the point. He was asked whether he would have voted for it, and Paul suggested he would not have because of concerns about government interference with private enterprise. No one's talking about specific votes he might cast; everyone's talking about his extremist worldview.

Similarly, he believes these issues "have been settled by federal courts," and they have. But that misses the point, too. The concern here is that Rand Paul, due to his strange ideology, disagrees with those court rulings. If it were up to him, the matter would have "been settled" in the other direction.

And then there's the key quote: "I support the Civil Rights Act." Of course, that's not what he said yesterday, and it's the kind of insincere "support" that would have led Paul to oppose the very legislation he now claims to endorse.

My concern here is that the media will see the words "I support the Civil Rights Act" and assume the matter has been resolved. It has not. The Republican nominee for Senate has, on more than one occasion, articulated his philosophical opposition to the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other bedrocks of American society. A misleading walk-back should make the situation worse for the candidate, not better.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

Maybe we can get that WWF candidate in CT to investigate this for the Times.

Posted by: gussie on May 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

The campaign ad should be easy enough to make.

Posted by: bobbo on May 20, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Does he have any problems with the thirteen amendment?

Posted by: jeff on May 20, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

thirteenth

Posted by: jeff on May 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul for Senate: 21st Century Problems, 18th century solutions

Posted by: Mike from Detroit on May 20, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Paul's campaign in Kentucky issued a statement about an hour ago, intending to "set the record straight."

This should read: Paul's campaign in Kentucky issued a statement about an hour ago, intending to "sweep the record straight back under the rug."

There---all fixed.

Posted by: S. Waybright on May 20, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think the real issue is that he opposes equal rights for homosexuals and is smart enough to know that his real reason for doing so is the same as the real reason people opposed equal rights for the various races and sexes (bigotry) while his stated reasons (federal overreach, liberals, blah blah) are the same vague nonsense those people used in the 60's to pretend they weren't simply bigots.

He isn't quite smart/smooth/cynical enough to avoid making this all fairly clear when pressured by an interviewer.

Posted by: JeffF on May 20, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

The question he should be asked is simple: if private businesses can discriminate, by not serving customers because of their race, who enforces this right to discriminate?

If I am asked to leave Denny's because I don't have shoes, and I refuse, they call the police. As soon as businesses have the right to refuse service based upon race, the state is involved in enforcement.

The state enforces rights, this is the problem with Rand Paul's libertarian views.

Posted by: tomj on May 20, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

rand paul will stealth his way into the united states clown car senate the same way that dude mcdonnell now sits in the guv's seat in the virginia commonwealth...

...they lie, cheat and steal 'cause the libertarian way is "fuck you!"
or because the standard white jeebus told 'em to "fuck you!"

Posted by: neill on May 20, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Great Lies in U.S. Political History

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman."


"I'm a 'compassionate' conservative."


"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

"I support the civil rights act."


"I'm not a Maverick."


"I'm not gay, I have a wide stance."

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 20, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

So now Paul has retreated to the run-of-the-mill position of the typical Republican politician -- filthy degenenerate lying scum.

Now he's secured the anti-American libertarian base AND the filthy degenerate anti-American lying Republican base.

Should be enough to put him over the top.

Posted by: John Thullen on May 20, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The state is also involved by the fact that the sidewalks are public property, the roads are public property, the utilities that service the businesses are publically regulated, the health and safety standards are enforced by the state, for the public good. etc etc

But, to Rand, that is probably all invasion of the state into private affairs. So how about we go back to the good old days of food poisoning, and crappy roads, and people who don't know where their electricity will come from ...

Hey - what a dream ! The new America in the 21st century

Posted by: bigutah on May 20, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The press and their opponents should ask ALL Republican candidates whether they support the Civil Rights Act, the ADA, bank regulation, etc. Either Paul will be isolated by his peers or they will all be out on a long limb.

Posted by: jb on May 20, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

You don't leave room for the idea that Paul might have opposed the CRA in 1964 but recognizes it's now law of the land? What about Rehnquist, who I believe opposed Miranda consistently, but ended up saying it was part of the national fabric? Seems to me both sides need to recognize there are dead letter issues, or maybe dead horses. The ERA was a hot issue of the 1970's, but I don't see it as worth discussing today.

What is worthwhile is asking Paul where he draws the constitutional line on current issues--presumably he thinks health care is unconstitutional. Does he think the Ledbetter Act was okay?

Posted by: Bill Harshaw on May 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Not a good sign for Paul that, only 2 days after an upset win which he should be celebrating and shouting from the rooftops, instead he's already stuck doing damage control for his own stupid statements and in the process, tripping over his dick with lies and spin.

teehee

Posted by: Gummo on May 20, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

I keep hearing the term "private business" being thrown around with respect to the Rand Paul debate (most frequently by Rand Paul himself).

There is NO SUCH ANIMAL.

Except with respect to unincorporated "businesses", any business, large or small, public or private (private in the "is its stock traded on a public exchange" sense), corporation or partnership, etc., is PUBLIC in the sense that the GOVERNMENT provides it with every single right and advantage that defines it as a business, rather than a "person selling something", including lower tax rates, additional tax deductions, and various limitations on liability (ranging from limitations on personal liability for the debts of the business to personal liability for crimes of the business all the way to limitations on the liability of the business itself for its own negligence (e.g., license to pollute)).

Beyond that, Paul seems to be including within the term "private business" large, publicly held corporations such as General Electric, or Ford; it is clear that he only believes government entities should be susceptible to the CRA's proscriptions, and that Ford should be able to exclude non-whites from its factory line if it wants to.

If libertarians like Rand Paul want government to keep its hands off of this mythical beast called "private business", then let's do it the real way: no applicability of the CRA or the ADA, etc., and no tax advantages or limitations on liability of any sort. His kind (whether a "private business" owner or a shareholder of GE or Ford) can have fun going to personal bankruptcy court and losing everything they've every had.

Posted by: Neddy Seagoon on May 20, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

"You don't leave room for the idea that Paul might have opposed the CRA in 1964 but recognizes it's now law of the land?"

That's precisely the point. Who cares if he recognizes the law of the land and wouldn't repeal it if he has the heart of a person who is philosophically opposed to it?

Posted by: Neddy Seagoon on May 20, 2010 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Paul and his ilk want everything privatized. And if his worldview regarding Civil Rights were reality, each business would be able to restrict entry to whomever wanted.

De facto, indirect segregation, even though he's (not very) careful to express it that way. But that's what racists ultimately want.

Posted by: terraformer on May 20, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

The racial angle has predictably generated a political firestorm, but not necessarily one that will hurt Paul with the median voter in Kentucky.

The smart response is to push him on libertarian property rights bugaboos that hit closer to home for the average white voter: the ADA, family and medical leave, minimum wage, etc.

Posted by: LaFollette Progressive on May 20, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is the basic problem with Libertarian ideology in general. Their worldview is utopian. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need laws to tell people not to discriminate.

But we do. And Paul is simply falling back on the fact that the laws are settled. It certainly makes it easy for him.

Now, how exactly is a Libertarian supposed to govern when he doesn't even believe in the /idea/ of governing?

Crazy.

Posted by: KW on May 20, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Do Americans have the right to be racist bigoted scumbags? Yes they do.

Do private clubs(which are a business)have the right to pick and choose who they want as members?
Yes they do.

Does the military have the right to discharge anyone who claims to be gay?
Yes they do.

Does almost every American store and restaurant have a sign that reads "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone"?
Yes they do.

Does every organized religion in America have the right to banish members from attending services?
Yes they do.

Does MSNBC have the right not to hire any black news anchors?
Yes they do.

Yeah I think the civil rights act is flawed.

Posted by: No Really on May 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

"A misleading walk-back should make the situation worse for the candidate, not better."

Yes, and I should have 3 beautiful, adoring wives to come home to who will make my life an unending symphony of pleasure and happiness. And lots of non-fattening beer.

Posted by: JohnR on May 20, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

The sad truth is that Paul's view reflects the thinking of a sizeable portion of the GOP, but these views get little attention from the MSM. Hate talk's faux intellectual Michael Medved even wrote an entire book blasting the Civil Rights Act as government interference with private enterprise. These right-wing hacks think government's sole purpose is to be an enabler of private enterprise, and that any attempt to protect Americans from abusive, discriminatory, harmful, or even deadly practices is beyond the scope of the government's authority. Rand Paul wants America to be Somalia with nukes, and the teabagging halfwits are cheering him on.

Posted by: ameshall on May 20, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

One of the biggest arguments against the '70s ERA was the fear, by conservative women, that rest rooms would become Unisex. Well, ERA failed, but, notice how many Unisex restrooms there are in state and federal parks? Or, even in some gas stations or other public places? Yeah, Mrs. Schafley, don't stop by any public beaches in California.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 20, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Next week, we'll ask Rand whether he would have voted for World War I. The following week, we'll ask him whether he supported the Louisiana Purchase.

How many other retro-votes do want him to take so we can have debate? Do you want every candidate to do so.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on May 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Two points:

One, I'll repeat my earlier assertion that Paul's rhetoric about "institutional racism" is a dog whistle against Adffirmative Action.

B) Paul's loony libertarian worldview deserves more scrutiny, not less. Kentucky is a coal mining state; he should be asked in no uncertain terms if he thinks Federal mine safety standards are a government overreach into private business.

After that, ask him how he feels about child labor laws.

And if he weasels out, ask him why he's so inconsistent in applying the loony libertarian beliefs he campaigns on.

I for one would love to see Paul campaign on a full-throated loony libertarian platform, and see the look on the faces of the so-called rugged individualists who used to troll these forums when it's overwhelmingly rejected.

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Rand Paul:

"Bid-ness rights, NOW! Bid-ness rights FOHEVAH!!"

Posted by: Jamey on May 20, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points with right-wing terrorists, aka my base, I'll just go ahead and lie about my answer per Republican Platform Ch 1 Section 1 by stating that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Fixed.

Posted by: John Henry on May 20, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

More Pee Potty Patriots as Republican candidates, please!

Posted by: hells littlest angel on May 20, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if his wits have been dulled by the monotonous diet of chickens that he takes in barter for performing eye surgeries?

Posted by: ghillie on May 20, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Good one, ghillie@2.18p.

I was watching Rachel last night interviewing Rand Paul and either he was in desperate need of sleep or he has the personality of a chair.

Which one is it?

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on May 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

either he was in desperate need of sleep or he has the personality of a chair.

He's just another bubble-inhabiting glibertarian whose arrogance is unsupported by competence. It's bewildering for them to suddenly find out that their brains aren't all that.

Most of them never really leave their sheltered worlds, so they can sustain the self-mythologizing indefinitely. Paul just got thrown into a cold pool and had the klieg lights turned on his significant shortcomings. Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: shortstop on May 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

He's just another bubble-inhabiting glibertarian whose arrogance is unsupported by competence. It's bewildering for them to suddenly find out that their brains aren't all that.

Ah, Rugged Individualists, all!

Posted by: Gregory on May 20, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Scanlon's point (throughout all the Paul threads) seems to be that Paul has but one overarching issue -- stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and that everything else (like his "it's my bidness an' I'll shun if I want to") is small potatoes not worth talking about.

But I wonder whether Paul is gonna ride that issue all that hard, when it comes to full campaign mode. Because, for those people of Kentucky who might be less "principled" than "in your eye" Randy, and to whom being against CRA is just fine and dandy (and the repeal long overdue), pulling out from the wars would not be appealing at all. The same people who don't want to share a table with a nigger also love the idea of the Islamofascists having the shit bombed out of them daily and twice on Fridays and Sundays. At least until they all come to Jesus.

So yeah, I'd like to see Paul questioned on the matter of wars, as much as he's questioned on the matter of minimum wage, child labour laws, etc.

Another interesting (to me, at any rate) conundrum to place in front of the good doctor: how do you feel about private businesses collecting all kinds of info on citizens, listening to their phone conversations etc., and sharing the info with the govt. Not just handing it to the govt at govt's request -- we already know he's against the govt having too much power. But how about *selling* it to the govt, for a good chunk of cash? Free market, unrestricted business practices et al?

Posted by: exlibra on May 20, 2010 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

The weakness in Libertarianism is that one man's freedom is another man's oppression when it gets to issues that people really dwell on.

My right to kill, rape, and abuse clashes with your right not to be killed, raped and abused. My right to racially discriminate clashes with your right to not to be discriminated. He will thus have to explain why he draws a line at rape/abuse but not on racial discrimination and the answer will essentially imply it not as high a priority to him.

I really think Paul is not a racist and is just trying to be a true libertarian. But in practice he is going to find that most libertarian positions are not really defensible and he will ultimately fall back to more party line views.

Posted by: Razdoctor on May 20, 2010 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

The campaign ad should be easy enough to make.
corset

Posted by: cherry on May 21, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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