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Voices: Rand Paul just showed us all who he really is — believe him

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  • Rand Paul
    Rand Paul
    United States Senator from Kentucky

In May of last year, I happened to be in Bowling Green, Kentucky — home of both my alma mater Western Kentucky University and US Senator Rand Paul — when a suspicious package was delivered to the house owned by the Republican lawmaker. “I bet he wants this investigated,” I said to a friend of mine over coffee.

My casual, perhaps macabre, aside concerned the fact that Rand Paul opposed the formation of the January 6 committee to investigate an insurrection that very nearly overthrew the United States government. An incident scales of magnitude more than what had happened to him, he didn’t see a need to investigate. But this? This was “pure terrorism,” his wife insisted. And it’s true that no politician should live in fear while going about their duties.

I thought of that incident yesterday as I watched Paul spar with Dr Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor and the man responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. By now, Paul and Fauci’s arguments are par for the course whenever the good doctor testifies before Congress. This one, though, was remarkable in just how craven and hypocritical “‘Rona Rand” behaved.

After accusing the Senator of “making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain,” DFauci said that he has experienced “threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.” He made clear who one of those people is: Rand Paul. The Senator has an image on his website instructing supporters to donate if they want to “fire Dr Fauci,” which along with the Senator’s repeated and baseless attacks against him, Fauci says, “kindles the crazies out there.”

Paul responded with what can best be described as a verbal shrug. “We are opposed to him,” the Senator said in an interview with right-wing network NewsMax later in the day. “He should be in jail… If I win reelection, I’ll subpoena all his records and we will investigate whether or not the virus came from a lab in Wuhan. So he does fear us.” Paul went on to say that this is “what politics is about, and I’m not pulling any punches.”

Someone else who didn’t pull any punches is Rene Boucher. In 2017, Boucher was arrested after physically assaulting Rand Paul. A neighbor who said he was fed up with Paul’s inconsiderate behavior (not his politics), Boucher attacked Paul, breaking six of his ribs. He is currently serving time in a federal prison — as is right for a man who attacked a sitting US Senator, no matter the reason. That’s not how we handle disagreements, be they political or horticultural.

Rand Paul knows this. I know he knows this because he was vocal about wanting Boucher arrested at the time. But Paul also knows that words can have consequences. I know this because Paul said as much after white powder was mailed to his house last spring.

“As a repeated target of violence,” Paul said at the time, “it is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to encourage violence against me and my family.” Leaving aside the fact that Paul is an unquestioning acolyte of a C-list celebrity, this is particularly relevant because Paul understood that he was a target of violence and that someone could be prompted to act on someone else’s words. “Just this weekend Richard Marx called for violence against me and now we receive this powder-filled letter,” Paul added. He was, of course, referring to the 1980s rock singer who had tweeted that “if I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume.”

Never mind that there is not an explicit call to violence in those words. Never mind that there is, as far as I’m aware, no evidence that the white powder was sent by someone inspired by Marx’s tweet. Never mind any of that. What this shows is that Rand Paul understands that the words of public figures can lead to violent consequences.

That is, violent consequences against him. Against Tony Fauci? Shrug.

We are living in a powder keg masquerading as a country. You don’t need a flame to light that fuse, just one single spark. Rand Paul does not need to tell people to take violent action against Dr Fauci for those people to make threats or, God forbid, act on them. And he knows this — because he knew it last year when someone took violent action against him.

The height of hypocrisy does not begin to describe the summit of shamelessness Rand Paul occupies. It is a disgusting abdication of not only his duty to his constituents and his country that he so recklessly stokes the flames of discontent and spreads misinformation. He knows what he is doing. He said as much on NewsMax, and he said as much last year. He doesn’t care. And that is contemptible.

When someone tells you who they are, my grandma always said, believe them. And Rand Paul just told us who he is: a shameless political hack for whom threats of violence — possibly even actions — are acceptable collateral damage so long as they aren’t against him and so long as they win him a few votes. Deplorable doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Luckily, the good people of Kentucky have a chance to rid us of this troublesome Senator this November. Paul is up for reelection. If there is any justice in this world, he will have plenty of time to ruin the lawns of his neighbors in Bowling Green, because he won’t be sent back to Washington.

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