Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 10, 2010

MAYBE THE AQUA BUDDHA OFFERS LEGAL ADVICE.... In the course of a high-profile, statewide political campaign, "don't get mad; get litigious" is rarely a sound strategy. Someone might want to let Rand Paul know.

As we talked about yesterday, GQ published a profile of the extremist Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, including an anecdote in which Paul, during his college years at Baylor, paid a visit to the home of a female student Paul knew from the swim team. He and a friend, apparently high, kidnapped the woman and tried to force her to take bong hits. When she refused, they drove her to a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek. I had to say, 'I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.'"

Initially, the Paul campaign issued a non-denial denial. Campaign manager Jesse Benton said, "National Enquirer-type stories about Dr. Paul's teenage years should be left to the tabloids where they belong." That's fine, I suppose, but the response never quite got around to saying the story isn't true.

Late yesterday, Benton went a little further, telling Dave Weigel:

We are investigating all our options -- including legal ones. We will not tolerate drive-by journalism by a writer with a leftist agenda.

For those keeping score, that's two responses, neither of which refutes the substance of the story.

It's worth noting that the reporter who wrote the GQ piece, Jason Zengerle, hardly has a reputation as some wild-eyed polemicist, and wouldn't be considered "a writer with a leftist agenda" by those familiar with his work. Indeed, GQ's Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson said in a statement: "We've vetted, researched, and exhaustively fact-checked Jason Zengerle's reporting on Rand Paul's college days, we stand by the story, and we gave the Paul campaign every opportunity to refute it. We notice that they have not, in fact, refuted it."

All things being equal, Paul's opposition to the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act matters more than some bizarre ritual he engaged in several years ago. But this is the kind of story that makes Rand Paul look like a pretty strange guy, and so far, his campaign isn't exactly handling it well.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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And Jesus said unto Paul, "Obey my words as you would my fathers, Aqua Buddha..."

I go after him with and ad aimed at the religious: Pointing out that the 1st or 2nd Commandment (from what I remember) was, 'Thou Shalt Worship No Other God Before Me.'
The second ad would have Paul in the foreground, Sinatra singing "Doobie, doobie, doo," and people taking hits off a bong in the background.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 10, 2010 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

these guys were desperate for a wet T shirt contest
by any means. whodabudda?

Posted by: apeman on August 10, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, in Republican circles, "Weird" is not a bug, but a feature. . .

Posted by: DAY on August 10, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'd make Smoke On The Water the background music...

Posted by: Todd for Vermont House on August 10, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK
...that's two responses, neither of which refutes the substance of the story.

Neither of which even contests the substance of the story.

I'd take that as a confirmation.

Someone needs to ask Paul when he stopped worshiping Aqua Buddha. The public has the right to know.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on August 10, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

I think Evan nailed it.

Again, despite being the son of a lifetime politician, Rand Paul and his staff seem utterly incapable of managing a campaign.

The only thing sadder than this sad-sack-son-of-privilege are the ill thought cruel policies he would impose on those unsuspecting folk who disagree with him - kind of like he did when he was a stupid underclassman at Baylor.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on August 10, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Mark Spitz still the Aqua Buddha in 1983?

Posted by: spudvol on August 10, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Fast Times at Richmont High... Paul's Hero

Posted by: John R on August 10, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

their Aqua-buddha mantra?

ohhhh waaaa ta boo Beeee Eye Ammmm

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on August 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

When he wins--and he will--should we refer to Paul as "The Senator from Atlantis?"

Posted by: dr. bloor on August 10, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I don't suppose we should be too surprised that the Paul campaign is more incensed about the discussions of drug use and idol worship than the kidnapping accusation.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on August 10, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

While his father was a US Congressman, this "teenage" (?) college student kidnapped a woman and forced her to take illegal drugs?


And this event should simply be ignore as good teenage fun? WTF is wrong with these people?

I bet you Ron Paul is real proud.

Posted by: Rochester on August 10, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

We will not tolerate drive-by journalism by a writer with a leftist agenda.

Why the qualifier? Shouldn't it be "we will not tolerate drive-by journalism, period."? The implication is that they are just fine with drive-by journalism... as long as it's with a rightist agenda. (Hello, Andrew Breitbart)

Posted by: josef on August 10, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

They need to have Tommy Chong do the voice over;>

Posted by: martin on August 10, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of commandments, I thought the first rule of campaign press management was: Thou shalt not give the press an excuse to run an embarrassing story for a second day.

Looks like the Paul people need to learn about this one.

Posted by: Basilsic on August 10, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Youthful indiscretions, that's all, who didn't engage in a little innocent felonious tomfoolery when they where in college?

Posted by: dr2chase on August 10, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I understand your point about Paul's views of the Civil Rights act and ADA mattering more to people when they choose a Senator. Still, I don't think that kidnapping a college student should be dismissed as merely strange. Typically, it is a felony--a serious crime--and should be considered that way, statutes of limitations and "youthful indiscretion" be damned.

Posted by: Miki on August 10, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

A history of heavy drug use would explain just about everything abut Paul? Has anyone asked him if he's still spending time getting totally wasted?

Posted by: hells littlest angel on August 10, 2010 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, Benen's second paragraph should probably have a couple of occurrences of "allegedly". I realize he's talking about a GQ story in which all this did happen, but we have to keep in mind there's not yet solid evidence that this did happen.

That said.... yeah, they're not even denying it.

Basilsic at 9:06 is correct, but suing GQ would be even sillier. What do they expect to accomplish? What would they sue for? Libel, opening up the whole Aqua Buddha question to discovery? Even if Paul wins the election, what good could that do to have a sitting US Senator litigating a case based on the question of kidnapping?

IANAL, nor a campaign consultant, but WTF? The lawsuit thing is almost certainly a bluff, and GQ knows it.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on August 10, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

If the story's true I find it difficult to believe that R paul was just high on pot. It wasn't that good 30 years ago. I don't know any pot heads that are ambitious enough to go out and kidnap anyone. My guess is that he was on something stronger.

Posted by: Gandalf on August 10, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

But haven't you heard? His opponent used the expression son-of-a-B-word at a church picnic one time! I mean, gosh, that phrase is used so rarely in the south, I'm surprised anyone even recognized what he was saying as a bad word. Probably why there's no reaction from the crowd in the heavily edited video Randy posted.

Because Randy's a libertarian, you know. Very important to smack people down for their choice of words when you're a libertarian.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on August 10, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, come on now everyone was doing it.;-)

Posted by: Jamie on August 10, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Umm ... ok. Let's assume that many of us who post to this have, in our past, ahem, perhaps indulged in over consumption of variosu legal and illegal substances while in college.

According to my friends who, may, or may not, have indulged, and an open question to the rest of you:

Did it ever, in your wildest thoughts, come to you to find another person, and blindfold them and take them to some remote place - regardless of what idol you were there to worship ???!!!??? Let's keep the focus on the ball here. Kidnapping is a crime.

And for those of you who did, how many are actually thinking of becoming a US Senator?

Posted by: bigtuna on August 10, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Senator Wooderson: "You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N."

(That's Senator Blutarsky for my fellow seniors.)

But seriously, the NoZe's are a legend in Texas. Once they kidnapped the fiberglass Big Boy from a restaurant. He ended up on a Homecoming float--the severed head mounted on the platter--as John the Baptist.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 10, 2010 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Probably showing my age, but I cannot help hearing this advertising jingle: There's something about an aqua buddha man.

Posted by: marcel on August 10, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the same Jason Zengerle, who, working for the bigoted Martin Peretz over at TNR, who engaged in the same kind of smear tactics against certain liberal bloggers according to Glenn Greenwald? Maybe you should be careful about whose work who wish to promote. If Rand Paul ideas are "nutty" as you all here say they are, why does one need to dig into one's college days to try and prove it? I hope you all acted intelligently and dignified in college too. And I hope you all stayed sober.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on August 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

When he wins--and he will--should we refer to Paul as "The Senator from Atlantis?"
Posted by: dr. bloor on August 10, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Priceless!! Dr. Bloor wins the thread.

In all seriousness, we now have a current and two former Presidents who smoked weed in college and possibly later. Obama has at least been mature enough to admit it; Shrub's non-denial denial speaks for itself, and Clinton's legendary, infamously hilarious "I didn't inhale" reply said all that needs to be said. Now we have Paul and I'm sure plenty of other upcoming Congressional and Senate hopefuls who've tried it a few times. How long is it going to be before we, as a nation, have a responsible conversation about the decriminalization of pot and -- in a larger context -- about the massive, epic fail of our War on Some Drugs. How much of the millions we spend each year on throwing basically innocent people into jail for meager "possession" charges (so the police can make their quota) rather than redirecting those funds to treatment programs and outpatient facilities, as well as clean needle and contraceptive programs to help stem the spread of HIV? Right wing moralists and self-righteous politicians gave the country Prohibition once, and it was an unmitigated disaster, and now we've got it again with the Mexican drug cartel violence. I realize expecting some common sense from the public and our political system about this is akin to hoping that the Earth will suddenly start rotating in the opposite direction, but as the old saying goes, if you're already in the hole, stop digging.

Posted by: electrolite on August 10, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Scallon:

"If Rand Paul ideas are "nutty" as you all here say they are, why does one need to dig into one's college days to try and prove it? I hope you all acted intelligently and dignified in college too. And I hope you all stayed sober."

If Rand Paul hadn't said some of the other quite cruel things he has said, one incident in college wouldn't be enough of a basis to oppose him. However, he has articulated a lot of extreme positions, he founded his own "Board" because he didn't like the American Board of Medical Specialties, etc., etc. And the incident GQ narrates (bear in mind that GQ is hardly a "lefty nutrag") goes quite a bit beyond an immature prank. I didn't participate in such pranks while in college, but I've read about a lot of childish pranks, many of which are basically harmless and silly and amusing in retrospect. What Rand Paul did goes far beyond a childish prank, and if you can't see that, I don't know what else to say to you.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on August 10, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I AM THE AQUA BUDDHA! I CAN DO ANYTHING! (Apologies to the estate of Jim Morrison)

Posted by: Verbal Hooligan on August 10, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: G.Kerby on August 10, 2010 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Rand Paul is extremely incorrect when he claims that Zengerle has a 'leftist agenda'. Zengerle is an American Likudnik who wishes to further utilize the US to further the interests of Israel. His enimity for Rand Paul is entirely because of Paul's anti-war and anti-interventionist stance.

Posted by: Jessykinns on August 12, 2010 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

Breaking News: Senator Blutarsky is the Aqua Budda (or at least the inspiration for the Aqua Buda).

Posted by: John B/ on October 19, 2010 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK
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