Political Animal


February 10, 2013 8:00 AM Rand Paul’s Fascinating Refusal to Say ‘No’

By Elon Green

On Thursday, Ben Shapiro of Breitbart News reported that “one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.””

So far, neither Breitbart nor anyone else has produced evidence of the group. Outside of Shapiro, in fact, even conservatives don’t seem to believe the bombshell is the real McCoy. “Maybe it’s not true,” a GOP aide tells The National Review. “The ploy,” observes a disbelieving Joshua Treviño, “is to force release of documents to disprove.” I agree. The report, like most of what emanates from the Breitbart empire, is almost certainly bogus.

That in mind, I’m intrigued by Friday’s exchange between Hugh Hewitt (about whom I have written before) and Rand Paul.

Three times Hewitt asked Paul if, in the event the Breitbart report proved true, he would vote against Hagel for secretary of defense. Three times Paul refused to answer:

HH: …If that is in fact true, Senator, would that lead you to vote against Mr. Hagel?

RP: You know, I saw that information today, also, and that is more and more concerning. …

HH …Can you imagine voting or not filibustering anyone who’d received support from supporters of a terrorist organization?

RP: Like I say, it’s very troubling.

And finally:

HH: And so given that, I come back around to answering again, asking again, Senator Paul, I don’t know how Senator Hagel’s name can’t be withdrawn if he has received support from an organization, that’s a big if, but just assume that it is for a second, Shapiro a pretty good reporter, he’s got to pull his name. You can’t take money from a terrorist-supporting organization and come before the United States Senate and ask for a vote, can you?

RP: Yeah, I’m very troubled by it, and I think that’s what’s going to, we’re going to find out, is he’s going to have to respond to this.

I am amazed, and delighted, that Paul won’t say the words Hewitt so desperately wants to hear. There’s no downside to Paul saying “No,” I don’t think. Voting against a guy who has taken money from a terrorist organization would not be an unpopular position! And surely an interview with Hewitt is not a binding document and Paul could, if so chose, change his mind.

So: Does he know Breitbart’s report is a blivet? This possibility is deeply amusing.


  • gkoutnik on February 10, 2013 8:18 AM:

    I've just finished my first year as a County Representative, and I'm amazed at how difficult it is to answer media questions that will be recorded, widely distributed, and remembered. It is especially difficult when I'm asked what I will do in the future regarding a particular vote. I've found that all manner of things can appear which need to be considered, and that any one factor is just that: a factor which needs to be considered along with many others, some of which have not come up yet.

    Surely, the Hagel-Hamas issue is pretty extreme, but still - there's always the 'I don't know what I'll know at voting time' component. Especially when the truth of the claim may never be completely proven.

  • c u n d gulag on February 10, 2013 8:45 AM:

    "...Shapiro a pretty good reporter, he’s got to pull his name."

    That them thar's, some pure comedy gold!

    Thanks Elon, for showing us that man-boobed boob's little word-turd to Aqua Buddha - that's the funniest thing I've read all weekend!!!

    And what would you call any exchange between Hewitt and Paul?
    A "meeting of the 'minds'" should not be on any list.
    Maybe, 'the immovable object meets the totally resistable force?'
    Nah - 'Dumb, and Dumber' works better.

  • biggerbox on February 10, 2013 11:54 AM:

    The Breitbart operation has really been slipping since the Dark One passed. This is all they've got? Don't they even have a faked video of James O'Keefe dressed as a terrorist delivering the check to Hagel's office? Sheesh.