This Is the Dumbest Thing Rand Paul Has Ever Said

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you a man with no core, a candidate with no platform, and a loser with no recourse.

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you a man with no core, a candidate with no platform, and a loser with no recourse.

We here at Civic Ventures have been kind of quiet about Donald Trump lately. That’s because the internet is overflowing with opinions about Donald Trump, most of them entirely unnecessary. There’s no point in adding any more noise to that cacophony. And reasonable people understand that what Trump is pushing is outright bigotry. Reasonable people also understand that giving Trump a whole lot of airtime in exchange for his statements is only making matters worse. And reasonable people understand that when Donald Trump says something outrageous, he’s normalizing it for a large segment of Americans. But presidential politics, right now, two months from the start of voting, is not about reasonable people. It’s about attention, and clicks, and eyeballs.

But there’s a little sideshow to this particular circus that I wanted to focus on for a moment. Remember Senator Rand Paul? The fellow that TIME called “The Most Interesting Man in Politics?” Yeah, his campaign never really took off. It launched with some support left over from Ron Paul’s two viral presidential campaigns, but those people started sloughing off the minute the younger Paul started talking about, well, much of anything. It’s been a downhill slide in the polls ever since. We’ve documented his decline on this blog, but then, like pretty much everyone else on earth, we forgot about him.

Luckily, New Hampshire radio station WGIR remembered that Paul existed. They asked him what he thought about Donald Trump’s recent statement on immigration. Paul’s response, as recorded by the good folks at Talking Points Memo, is astounding:

“I think it’s a mistake to base immigration or moratoriums based on religion,” Paul said. “But you know, I’ve called for something similar, which is a moratorium based on high risk.”

Look at that. Just read that quote again. Paul says something right—although it’s more than “a mistake” to base immigration or moratoriums on religion, it’s downright “unconstitutional”—and then he follows that up with “I’ve called for something similar.” So you have a man who at once repudiates an idea and then, acknowledging that it’s a popular idea, embraces it with literally his next breath. What Paul is trying to say here, I think, is that he’d do a better job of screening terrorists than Trump because naturally a Paul administration would be so much smarter than a Trump administration for some reason. But what he’s really saying is that he dislikes the idea but he likes how popular the idea is.

This, pretty much, is a perfect example of the unabashed disaster that has been the 2016 Rand Paul campaign (if, indeed, the Rand Paul campaign even makes it to 2016.) Paul’s father made himself famous on his convictions. Even Ron Paul’s fiercest opponents had to admit he had convictions, even if they disagreed with every single one of those convictions. But Rand Paul is at once for war in the Middle East and against it, for domestic surveillance and against it, for profiling and against it. His only two criteria, it seems, are that it’s wrong if “they” do it and it’s right if Paul does it. Poor guy is only ever half-right, at best.

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Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.