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Aqua Buddha Redux: What Conservatives Should Learn from…Rand Paul?

Posted By Calvin Freiburger On October 22, 2010 @ 5:00 pm In NewsReal Blog | No Comments

No, you haven’t stumbled upon a different website. We here at NewsRealBlog have plenty of problems with the Kentucky Republican, but this week I have no choice but to admit that there’s one area in which he might be able to teach his fellow midterm election candidates a thing or two: dealing with demagogic Democrats. This week, he joined Sean Hannity to discuss his opponent Jack Conway’s latest attack—alleging that Paul once kidnapped a woman for a quasi-religious cult in college—and Paul’s response in their latest debate:

SENATE CANDIDATE JACK CONWAY, D-KY.: When is it ever a good idea — a good idea to tie up a woman and ask for her to kneel before a false idol, your god that you call Aqua Buddha?

SENATE CANDIDATE RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Jack, you know how we tell when you’re lying? It’s when your lips are moving, OK? You’re accusing me of crimes. You just — do you know nothing about the process? You’re going to stand there and accuse me of a crime for 30 years ago from some anonymous source? How ridiculous are you?

The Conway ad suggests Paul has a secret vendetta against traditional religion and that he once “tied a woman up” and told “her to bow down before a false idol,” tying past conduct to the present day by bringing up Paul’s desire to end federal faith-based initiatives.

The attack is so sleazy that not even Chris Matthews could stomach it—we’ve known since early August that the “kidnapping victim” said she was playing along with a stupid college prank, not being coerced by sinister cultists (“I went along because they were my friends […] He did not force me physically in any way”); and Paul’s opposition to federal faith-based initiatives isn’t anti-religion, but merely a straightforward application of his strict libertarian belief in a very limited scope of things the federal government should do. Yeah, the cult stuff is weird, but absent any actual, y’know, evidence that Paul hates Christianity and worships an Aqua Buddha, there’s little reason to consider it as much more significant than an embarrassing episode of college kids trying to amuse themselves.

Chalk this one up as another case of leftists suddenly jettisoning their tolerance for religious diversity when there’s an election to win. And conservative candidates would do well to pay attention to Paul’s response—directly calling Conway a liar and even refusing to shake his hand because he wasn’t an “honorable man.” One of the reasons left-wing lies persist is that most leftists know they’ll never have to suffer any consequence more severe than mild scolding over their “unfortunate” actions.

But by bucking the expected rules of debate decorum, Paul instantly and clearly signaled—in an attention-grabbing way—that what Conway did was something outside the range of acceptable conduct for respectable politicians, shifting the narrative to his opponent’s sleaziness. There’s a lot about Rand Paul nobody should emulate, but in this case, conservatives should definitely follow his lead.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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