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April 24, 2014 12:20 PM Mitch Hearts Rand

By Ed Kilgore

I get it that the innovation in TIME’s latest edition of its “100 Most Influential People” feature is getting celebrities to write about celebrities. But still, there’s something especially disingenuous about getting Mitch McConnell to tout Rand Paul:

Any political party worth its salt is always on the lookout for converts. But no one in either party today brings the level of missionary zeal to the task that Rand Paul does. From Berkeley, Calif., to Detroit, my Kentucky colleague has been cheerfully clearing a path for Republican ideals in the unlikeliest precincts. And he’s done it with rare magnanimity, making common cause with anyone who agrees that an all-powerful government in Washington is a threat to individual liberty — and to the American project itself.

Yawn. But the next sentence gets to the heart of the matter:

He has also embraced the 11th commandment made famous by Reagan, “not to speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Rand Paul’s endorsement of McConnell, however lukewarm it has undoubtedly been, is worth its weight in gold to McConnell in his so-far-successful battle to put down primary challenger Matt Bevin. So of course he (or his staff) have jumped at TIME’s offer to go all kissy-face on the guy who croaked McConnell’s hand-picked Kentucky Senate candidate in 2010, Trey Grayson.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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