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Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Posted: May 21, 2010 10:16 AM

The Rand Paul Quote Everybody's Ignoring

What's Your Reaction:

Yes, he played cat-and-mouse with Rachel Maddow on the subject of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but, as he rightly points out (pun intended), that's primarily a backward-looking debate. What's escaping public notice so far, though, is his take on a far more contemporary issue: accountability. Here's Rand Paul on the BP oil spill:

I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.

The reason this quote isn't inflaming debate the way Paul's Libertarian dance around the Civil Rights Act has is simple: on this issue, Paul is not fringe-y or extremist or unusual; he's spouting a line we've heard incessantly, from defenders of BP, from apologists for the US Army Corps of Engineers (in the case of the flooding of New Orleans), from architects of the Iraq War. Paul is channeling Donald Rumsfeld: "Stuff happens." Nothing to see here, move on.

The deeper meaning of the quote is the standard Republican assault against lawyers who have the temerity to challenge, in court, established power. Just this week, the Louisiana legislature defeated a bill that would have punished the Tulane Legal Clinic for its work taking government agencies to court. The bill had the support of the Louisiana Chemical Association.

The political spin on Paul is that he's worrisome because he's not within the standard lines of the modern political debate. I'd suggest he's worrisome because he is.

 

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