Friday, May 21, 2010

more on Paul and the "civil rights furor"

I blogged at great length on this yesterday.

Not surprisingly, with an issue like this-- and with partisans and demagogues to stoke the fires, at least temporarily-- there is more to say today. So...

First, the media responses:

1.) The C-J made it the lead story-- a reasonable piece by Joe Gerth with the inflammatory, editor-chosen headline, "Paul embroiled in civil rights furor". (UPDATE: The entire discretionary part of the two editorial pages-- aside from letters to the editor-- was devoted to this topic: 2 editorials and 3 op-ed pieces!! Even funnier, a letter to the editor takes the editorialists to task for a reference to Clarence Thomas' race in criticizing his dissent on a Supreme Court opinion!)

2.) Not surprisingly, the liberal national media continue to run hard with the story.

3.) Here are a few of the national GOP writers (the first from JewishWorldReview; the last two from; Rich Lowry on how helpful it would be to have a prominent voice like Paul's in the Congress; moderate Michael Gerson on the supposedly problematic "spectre" of the Tea Party; and Michael Reagan on Kentucky (ironically) leading the way politically through the Tea Party and Reaganesque/libertarian principles of limited government.

4.) I enjoyed Elendil's Journal, a Kentucky blogger who had some interesting thoughts on those who will overplay the oh-so-popular race card.

The prospective responses of the GOP "elites" (within the party apparatus):

I've been (somehow) surprised to see the "party elites" come out in favor of establishment candidates during the primary season-- including a number of "conservatives". It will be interesting to see whether they mess with Paul or support him.

On the one hand, they just want more GOP bodies-- even though they would prefer a sure-thing, establishment candidate-- so they'll probably support Paul. On the other hand, party purity (at the expense of purity of conservative principles) may win out-- and they may seek to sack Paul before he can do damage to the GOP's (purposefully) watered-down label. My guess is that the former line of short-term political survival and desire for power will win out (easily).

In an email conversation with a friend who was having fun with the angle of "I'm opposed to X personally, but don't support legislation against it." He sent me a list of amusing applications of this from a liberal perspective. I responded that:

It would be fun to put up a comparable list from the "conservative" side as well. The list, as is, has nothing about abortion, redistribution, govt monopoly in schools, Social Security, etc.

And then to a far-larger point:

Of course, all politicians-- in fact, all of us-- use the same argument. The question is when do we use the force of government to deal with problems we find abhorrent, repulsive, irritating, bothersome, etc. Do we want govt laws against cigarettes, adultery, Scientology, etc.?

Beyond that, there are other serious ethical and practical questions here. (I really enjoyed Paul's point about extending this to the 2nd amendment and whether restaurant owners should be allowed to make private rules about guns.) Of course, I don't expect such questions to be frequently asked in the political realm. I don't expect partisans or demagogues to raise those questions. And I don't expect the simple-minded to think of such questions. But there's "a big old world out there" on these questions-- at least for a liberal and reasoned mind to ask and try to answer!

Again, I encourage people to watch the interview. Paul handles an awkward situation quite well, avoiding the sound-bite, eschewing a yes/no answer to what is a complicated question, and laying out a cogent set of ethical and practical concerns.

If he sticks to that-- given the times, given Kentucky's relatively ornery preferences, given that he seems so reasonable-- I don't think this will last long, or more to the point, I don't think this will hurt him much at all. In fact, I'd say the danger is on the other electoral foot-- that the Dems will be tempted to overreach with this and end up looking desperate/silly. Recent precedent supports this view-- as Grayson ran into the same overreach in trying to demagogue Paul's nuanced views on abortion (a far larger issue in a GOP primary than race would be in a general election).

In a word, I don't think these sorts of arguments will work-- whether from the right or the left-- in this campaign season, in Kentucky, and against Rand Paul.


At May 21, 2010 at 5:11 PM , Blogger Darrell said...

Doug Wilson wrote a great essay about this fiasco.

At May 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

Dr. Paul cancelled his appearance on Meet the Press this weekend. He says it's to attend his son's confirmation. But this doesn't sound good.

At May 22, 2010 at 2:23 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Even if it's a political decision, it's probably smart. He doesn't benefit from further national attention and he's probably done everything he can (on TV) to explain his positions. Partisans, demagogues, and the simple-minded have other ignoble agendas. Why go along for the ride instead of letting it fade?

At May 22, 2010 at 8:15 PM , Blogger Jenna said...

Just two days after the primary?

This story has no teeth.
It's completely obvious that this is a smear attempt motivated by leftist fear and trembling about their prospects in Nov. No one besides "them" is paying much attention.

From what I gather, the tea party is a mix of Libertarian/GOP and Independent. It's a scary time to be a Democrat.

At May 23, 2010 at 12:18 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 23, 2010 at 9:04 PM , Blogger 淑君 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At May 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Wilson's essay is far funnier than mine and makes many of the same points (and a few more too)! Thanks Darrell!


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