Joe Barton, the Republican Congressman who caused an uproar for apologizing to BP after it destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, received much-needed support last week from Rand Paul, the Republican Senate candidate who caused an uproar for regretting that racists no longer had the right to discriminate.
"I don't want to pile on him... I know what that feels like," Dr. Paul commented. "I do know that people sometimes can go over the top, and I think he should be given the chance to explain himself."
Of course, Rep. Barton did, in fact, explain himself, apologizing yet again, but this time it was for making his insanely stupid remarks and he then retracted his initial apology. Exactly what other explanation Rand Paul thought was rationally plausible isn't clear, but solidarity among the woefully misunderstood is always endearing.
Mind you, there's no report as to whether Joe Barton was happy to have Rand Paul's understanding. It's just as likely that upon hearing the word, Mr. Barton crawled into a corner, moaning, "Oh, please dear God, no. Make him stop." After all, having Rand Paul's understanding is the definition of damning with faint praise. The whole "With friends like this..." syndrome. It's like if you did something so mortifying that all you wanted was for just everyone to please, please stop pointing at you and be out of the national spotlight, and then Osama bin Laden released a tape saying, "C'mon, lay off this guy. I understand exactly what he's going through. Be nice to him."
The good news for Rep. Barton is that at least Helen Thomas didn't chime in with her support, too.
Mind you, Rand Paul himself would have seemed best-served by not reminding people that he had been held to outrage for his mindlessly inexplicable views defending the right to discriminate -- views that he had held and voiced long before appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, despite his faux-insistence to the contrary. But then, who is to gauge the mind of an out-of-his-depth Libertarian-come "Tea Partyer"-come Republican when having to face the real world rather than his limited, insular, protected world of far right support?
Of course, considering that he has since begun campaigning in costume - going around in his ophthalmologist scrubs to remind people "I haven't really done this before, I'm a doctor," (never mind that he's not a board-certified doctor despite saying he was) - Rand Paul's drive to draw attention to himself for all the wrong reasons and shoot himself in the other foot seems like a pretty sure bet at this point. The only concern is that he'll run out of feet.
What next for Rand Paul? It's beginning to appear that the sky is the limit.
Perhaps we'll see Rand Paul express his understanding for the ridicule Sue Lowden went through suggesting that chickens could be bartered for medical care. Maybe he'll even announce that he, as an ophthalmologist, will begin to accept poultry in his practice.
Surely he'll stand by fellow-Libertarian/Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada, understanding the piling on criticism she's taken about ending Social Security, the EPA and legal alcohol. After all, these are each good Libertarian and limited-government Republican views. Okay, except for that "banning alcohol" thingee.
No doubt, too, he'll hold a press conference standing arm-in-arm in solidarity with the State of Arizona, understanding how it is being piled on for doing nothing more than he himself espouses, having the simple, sincere right to discriminate.
Solidarity is solidarity, after all. So, it stands to reason that if you're going to offer understanding towards others purely because they have been piled on, you will be there for them all. Because otherwise, solidarity without being actually solid is nothing more than shoddy political expedience.
So, we should expect Rand Paul to offer his understanding of Rep. Mark Sounder (R-IN) for being piled on after simply making a personal choice to have an affair with a staffer, with whom he taped an abstinence video.
And announce his understanding for Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) for his personal choice to have an affair with a staffer.
And for Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) who showed the ultimate in limited government by taking off for Argentina while in office to have an affair (albeit not with a staffer).
It can only be a matter of days for Rand Paul to publicly state that he, more than most people, understands what it's like for referee Koman Coulibaly to have been piled on for disallowing a goal against the U.S. in the World Cup.
Just as he didn't pile on Rev. George Rekers, co-founder of the anti-gay Family Research Council, who merely took a male escort to Europe with him to carry his luggage.
No doubt he will stand by all these people. They were all piled on, and that is his point. Rand Paul didn't offer support for Joe Barton because of what was said, but solely because he understands being piled on. Whatever was said. And so, assuming that Rand Paul is a man of his word and honor, solidarity is solidarity. And understanding is the soul of grace.
Which is why I always try hard to understand Rand Paul.