Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rand Paul's 'Macaca' Moment

The pundit class can't get enough. During a stop in Iowa, Rand Paul hastily left the scene when activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas confronted Rep. Steve King. Let's roll the tape:

As the images of Rand's retreat are played over and over, terms such as "bolts", "flees", "runs away" fill the airways and blogosphere. Just as the GOP is trying its best to portray Obama as too weak to stare down Putin, one of the leading Republican presidential candidates is frightened by the prospect of having to face two young undocumented students. Ironic to say the least.

Rand Paul tried to explain his actions by saying that he was on his way to another interview. No fear on his part. He just had to be about 10 feet way from Ms. Andiola. However, if Rand was about to begin an interview, why bite down on a burger? No worries about bad breath or food stuck between teeth? It is just not credible.

What is even more incredible is that Rand Paul is considered a viable candidate for the presidency. Just what exactly has the man achieved? He talks a lot; really a lot. As a matter of fact, his most notable "accomplishment" was a 13 hour filibuster that confirmed what everyone - outside of the paranoid crowd - knew: the president will not blow up American citizens while they are happily enjoying a latte at the corner Starbucks.

(Memo to the paranoid: we use Hellfire missiles because we don't have boots on the ground where terrorists are hiding. If a terror suspect is on American soil, we have plenty of assets to apprehend him/her without reducing a city block to rubble and killing innocent bystanders).

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, Rand Paul was an ophthalmologist. A perfectly respectable profession but not one that produces a legislative record. Since becoming a member of Congress, Rand has introduced, co-sponsored several hundred bills. Only three have become law: 1) Freedom to Fish Act; 2) HIV Organ Policy Equity Act; 3) Pilot's Bill of Rights. Not exactly the most pressing national issues.

Unfortunately, the election of Barack Obama has made it acceptable to nominate individuals that do not have much of a record. Hillary's experience became a liability for her while running in 2008. As long as the rhetoric catches the imagination of the electorate, who cares about experience? Who needs achievements? A good talker is all that is required to fill the most powerful position in the world.

Not only does Rand Paul love to talk, he has ventured to speak before audiences and addressed issues that Republicans traditionally avoid. He has spoken at Howard University. He has spoken about drug laws disproportionally targeting black youth. Rand Paul also spoke about the GOP needing to make inroads into the Latino vote if it wants to win future elections. Alas, the one time he needed to speak Rand got stage fright.

In the pre-YouTube days, Rand's flight would never have made the news. And even if it did make the news, it would have been a couple of lines that would be quickly forgotten. But in this new social media world - where everyone seems to have a Smartphone -candidates' missteps are recorded, uploaded and what seemed a smooth road to the White House suddenly becomes mission impossible.

In 2006, Virginia's Senator George Allen was expected to win re-election. He was also seen in many quarters as a formidable presidential candidate in 2008. Then one day he was caught on camera referring to a Democrat operative as "macaca", a racial slur. The video went viral and Allen's easy re-election turned into an unexpected loss. His presidential ambitions were dashed. One misstep and one video camera, that's all it takes in today's environment to end political careers.