In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. Rand Paul stoutly defended an aide who, as a radio shock jock in South Carolina, praised John Wilkes Booth, heaped scorn on Abraham Lincoln and wore a ski mask emblazoned with the stars and bars of the Confederate Battle Flag.But even as he tried distance himself from his aide's views, Paul simultaneously defended his aide by grabbing the mantle of victimhood:
Paul (R-Ky.) stressed that he opposed such views, many of which have been recanted by the Senate aide, Jack Hunter, who co-wrote Paul's first book in 2010 and who is now his social media adviser in Washington.
“I'm not a fan of secession,” Paul said. “I think the things he said about John Wilkes Booth are absolutely stupid. I think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. Do I think Lincoln was wrong is taking away the freedom of the press and the right of habeas corpus? Yeah.”
“Are we at a point where nobody can have had a youth or said anything untoward?” the senator asked rhetorically.But that's not the issue here. The question is whether Paul's views are substantively different than his aide's, despite the fact that Paul manages to express his views in a way that doesn't make conservatives uncomfortable. And here's a perfect example of Paul's sophistry:
“All I can say is, we have a zero tolerance policy for anybody who displays discriminatory behavior or belief in discriminating against people based on the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, anything like that,” Paul told me. “We won't tolerate any of that, and I've seen no evidence of that.”Note in particular that Paul included discrimination over sexual orientation on his list of things that he refuses to tolerate. "Zero tolerance," he said. Here's the thing about that: Paul's comment came on the exact same day that he voted against ENDA, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
So on the one hand, Rand Paul says the right thing—that he's got a "zero tolerance" policy for bigotry. But on the other hand, he votes the opposite way, saying such bigotry should be tolerated. It's just like he's got "zero tolerance" for the kinds of views expressed by the "Southern Avenger" guy. But nonetheless he ends up giving that guy a job.
The more you look at it, the more it seems the thing Paul has got "zero tolerance" for is talking honestly about what he's fighting for.