The political and media pile-on on Rand Paul is overwrought — and reveals more about the political and media elite than it does Rand Paul.
Political novice and principled libertarian Rand Paul has, indeed, committed a stupid gaffe and unforced error by initially fumbling an easy question about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But too many commentators — at the FrumForum (to which I proudly contribute) and elsewhere — have overreacted.
David Frum, for instance, insists that the “GOP Will Pay the Price for Rand Paul’s Gaffee,” because now Republican support for civil rights supposedly has been called into question.
A FrumForum contributor who lacks the courage to even use his real name (he goes by the pseudonym “Henry Clay”) goes so far as to suggest that Rand Paul’s America is “a land of segregated lunch counters.”
Jeb Golinkin also joins in on the pile-on to complete the FrumForum’s act of character assassination. Rand Paul may or may not be a racist,” he intones.
“I can’t say either way – although invoking the Civil Rights Act as an example of the government overstepping its proper role not once but twice (he also did it in an interview on NPR) certainly leaves the question open for debate.”
No it doesn’t. And Golinkin ought to be ashamed of himself for casually smearing someone as a potential racist when there exists no evidence to support that nasty charge.
Paul is a libertarian who, like many conservatives and libertarians in the 1960s, opposed the Civil Rights Act on principled Constitutional grounds. The Right’s contention then was that the government did not have a right to force people, in their private accommodations and businesses, to associate with anyone else.
These conservatives and libertarians may have been wrong — William F. Buckley, Jr. certainly admitted as much later — but they were hardly racist. And to suggest otherwise, as Golinkin does, betrays a gross ignorance of American political and constitutional history.
But what really accounts for this unseemly moral preening and moral posturing, I think, is the belief by Frum and his lackeys that the charge of racism is especially damning and destructive politically to conservatives. That’s why, I think, they have overreacted so to Paul’s innocent and stupid gaffe.
Frum and his young cohorts believe that at a time when America’s minority population — Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans — is significantly increasing, even the appearance of racial or ethnic intolerance can spell the political death knell for the Right.
That’s true. However, it’s also true that the charge of racism has become so ubiquitous and so misused by the Left that it simply no longer has the sting it once did.
Who on the Right, after all, has not been falsely called a racist, and typically for the most ludicrous and nonsensical reasons?
Indeed, the charge has been levied against conservatives who advocate for tax and budget cuts, an assertive and muscular U.S. foreign policy, a strong national defense, school choice and educational standards, and voter identification requirements.
For these reasons, the charge of racism today is rightfully taken with a heavy grain of salt by most Americans who know better than to uncritically accept the charge at face value. Would that the FrumForum had this same healthy sense of skepticism and critical judgment.