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Less than 24 hours after beating the Republican political establishment in the Kentucky Senate primary, Rand Paul has joined that another Tea Party poster child — Sarah Palin — with a galling display of foot-in-mouth disease.
“He thinks he’s got enough working knowledge of the system and his philosophy to hold forth on anything any time, but he’s not ready for prime time,” longtime Kentucky journalist Al Cross told Politco Thursday.
Paul’s evasion on whether or not he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with his longstanding belief that restaurants and other businesses should be allow to discriminate against minorities, gays and the disabled left Republicans wondering is they had another Palin in their midst — someone who is good at getting media attention but may have trouble winning the big prize in November.
Paul later Thursday said he would have voted for the act and, like his father — Texas Congressman and twice failed Presidential candidate Ron Paul — blamed the entire mess on media misinterpretation of his positions and remarks.
Paul’s flip-flop makes some wonder if he is not the outsider he claims but just another slimy politician who modifies his position when the tide turns. Writes Joan Walsh on Salon:
Paul is now flipping and flopping and slipping and sliding like an oily politician. When I started writing this blog post, Paul was still insisting that he supported about 90 percent of the Civil Rights Act, but had reservations about its application to private businesses, just as he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday night.
But then Paul spent most of Thursday changing his story. First, he told his conservative buddy Laura Ingraham that his only mistake was talking to Maddow in the first place. Midday, he issued a statement that he would not try to repeal the Civil Rights Act. Late Thursday an exasperated Paul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “Yes, I would have voted yes” on the measure had he been in the Senate back when the act was passed.
What are we really supposed to believe about Paul’s beliefs?
Whatever he believes, Paul’s shoot-from-the-lip tendencies worry Republicans who see him as a flash in the pan who could lose the Senate race in November. Democrats are already licking their chops and seeing Paul’s candidacy as a good chance to win in Kentucky.
Like most darlings of the Tea Party is an extremist and most extremists have a short shelf life. The don’t wear well in the long run.
Writes John Dickerson on Slate:
Democratic Party operatives must have melted their servers with all the e-mail messages they sent to reporters questioning Paul’s views on racism and his libertarian beliefs. Were they so extreme that he would not support one of the signature laws of American equality?
This is what opposition parties do. With Paul, the Democrats have ample material from his past. But rarely does the candidate help his enemies by providing a fresh moment to paint him as an extremist.
Republicans rushed to distance themselves. Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jim DeMint had backed different candidates in the Kentucky primary, but they were united in their effort to move away from Paul’s remarks. (This was not the kind of Republican unity the party was looking for.) McConnell put out a statement that said “Among Senator McConnell’s most vivid memories and most formative events in his career was watching his boss, Sen. John Sherman Cooper, help pull together the votes to break the filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Political opponents also criticize Paul as a hypocrite who campaigns as a man of the people and then holds his primary election victory party in the exclusive — and restrictive — Bowling Green Country Club.
Asked House Democrat majority whip James Clyburn: “Who would have a victory party in a place where the minions who just voted for you ain’t welcome?”
Rand Paul would, just as he said “yes” when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked him if he felt a restaurant had a right to refuse to serve blacks.