BY NICHOLAS RIEBEL
There’s little question that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is running for president, like his father before him (former Texas Representative Ron Paul, if you didn’t know). There are
many little hints, but one of the most obvious is his odd Monica Lewinsky diatribe. It’s odd indeed that Rand Paul would dredge this up again, but it’s clear why he is: he wants to find an attack that’ll work against Hillary Clinton. But it’s interesting that he would choose this particular tactic, reminding us of a 16-year-old scandal that didn’t actually work that well against Bill Clinton. But why would he do this (if we assume his target isn’t actually Bill Clinton?) After all, no sane, rational human being would say the Lewinsky affair was Hillary Clinton’s fault.
An article in The Atlantic entitled “Why is Rand Paul talking about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky?” has an interesting hypothesis: “Paul isn’t speaking to most Americans — he’s speaking to the Christian right.” It goes on to explain that Paul is going to try to appeal to socially conservative Republican primary voters who’ll help decide the GOP nominee for president in 2016. Arguing that Paul’s strategy is to “solidify his support” with a “Tea Party wing focused primarily on debt and the size of government” and to “mak(e) gains with” the social conservatives and a “party establishment that’s more hawkish on foreign policy and more willing to make the ideological compromises necessary to win.” They go on to give examples of him doing all of this, which would be necessary to win the primaries.
But I argue that the Atlantic article, in which the caption explains that “there isn’t much political logic to dredging the old scandal up — except as a move to shore up [Paul’s] credibility with social conservatives skeptical of libertarianism,” is only partially right. He is also maneuvering for the 2016 general election — he wants to attack Hillary Clinton, plain and simple, to damage her in any way possible so he can win. He wants to play dirty.
This is the beginning of a pattern: The Koch brothers, for example, are shelling out major cash to defeat , amongst others, two Democratic female Senators this year: Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Far-right attacks seem to be successful in tearing Democrats down — they throw mud until they see what sticks, and if Rand Paul is the GOP nominee he will doubtlessly have enough money to bombard the airwaves with anti-Hillary ads.
As the Republicans continue their “war on women,” it shouldn’t surprise us that Rand Paul takes a cheap shot at Hillary Clinton through her husband’s indiscretions. This is just a taste on the 2016 campaign if Rand Paul is the Republican nominee, and I hope Hillary Clinton knows that he doesn’t play fair or nice.
It’s silly to focus on these things anyways, and hopefully voters will reject the spurious attacks whether from the GOP or Democrats, or at least concern themselves that contain substance rather than silliness. After all, it would be unfair for Hillary Clinton to go after Rand Paul for his father’s views, actions, career, or any sort of beliefs or projects. It would be ridiculous for Hillary Clinton to lambaste him for his son’s criminal record. Not to mention the fact that his own wife thinks — for whatever reason — he shouldn’t be the most powerful man in the world, the commander-in-chief of America.
Please, Mr. Paul, let’s focus over what we have control over. Such as your plagiarism, your ultra-conservative, far right political opinions and positions, the people you surround yourself with, and your own career, record, and all the details a presidential campaign will bring to light, such as how you were able to rise from an eye doctor to a Senator, all your financial backers, and why you are qualified to be our president.
Hillary Clinton may not be perfect, but there is no question she is qualified to be president of the United States. Can we truly say the same of Rand Paul, or must he tear a great stateswoman and politician down for what he believes should have been his father’s job? If we must have a dynasty, let’s at least choose the better one.
Nicholas Riebel is a freshman contributing writer to The College Reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.