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Bill Straub: Musings by the drunk at the end of the bar — and his untethered rants on this and that

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rand Paul is the political equivalent of the drunk sitting by himself at the far end of the bar with a half-filled glass of rail bourbon in front of him, loudly mumbling incoherently over whatever hobgoblin happens to be flashing through his besotted mind at the moment.

The Bowling Green Republican is, in other words, the W.C. Fields of the United States Senate, although it should be noted that Fields at least intended to draw laughter.

The problem is it’s easy to get rid of the drunk at the end of the bar – simply call a cab and toss him in, bag and baggage. Ol’ Rand can’t be dislodged for at least another year and a half, more than likely longer.

By now, the voters of the Commonwealth have become accustomed to Paul’s untethered rants as a result of his ongoing feud with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over the simple issue of convincing people to don masks during a pandemic that has resulted in almost 600,000 American deaths.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com

Paul, for whatever reason, has consistently been a screaming meme over mask wearing. Now that the Centers for Disease Control has determined the nation has arrived at a point in time where it’s no longer necessary to wear a mask outside at small gatherings, he recommends that President Biden take to the television airwaves and publicly burn his.

Rand Paul has made an extended, infamous political career of almost never favoring any initiative that comes down the pike, regardless of how well considered it might be. He has taken to heart the words of that eminent academician, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, who told the faculty of Huxley College, “Your proposition may be good / But let’s have one thing understood / Whatever it is, I’m against it.”

And he goes off half-cocked on every shiny object that enter his consciousness. The nation got a ringside seat on that last Sunday during his appearance on Fox News when he said he was perplexed by the hubbub over a new elections law in Republican-controlled Georgia that critics, like one-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, maintain is clearly intended to of suppress the African-American vote.

As a result, several major Atlanta-based corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines expressed their dissatisfaction with the package, thus drawing the ire of Paul who asserted the objections were tantamount to calling the law’s supporters racist.

That led to a prolonged dissertation endeavoring to show that Democrats are the real racists.

“To hear all these Democrats shouting Jim Crow, Jim Crow — do they not realize the history of the Democrat Party was Jim Crow, that not any god-fearing Republican voted for Jim Crow?” he said. “That Jim Crow throughout the South was done by Democrat legislators, that the people who were beating up John Lewis and pummeling him on the bridge in Selma were all Democrats?

“I, for one, am sick and tired of Democrats,” Paul said. “They need to apologize for their history. They need to apologize for foisting Jim Crow on the country. And they need to read the bill in Georgia and realize it has nothing to do with keeping people from voting.”

Paul acts as if revealing that Democratic-controlled legislatures throughout the South were responsible for the enactment of Jim Crow laws is some sort of stunning expose,’ a dark secret that has been kept from an unwary public for decades.

Individuals like Paul haul this old bromide out at times they deem opportunistic to establish just how sickening sincere they are without providing even a passing acknowledgement that times change. Even the dullest schoolboy knows by a certain grade that Jim Crow was perpetrated by state governments controlled by Democrats.

The racist taint on the Democratic Party continued into the 1960s and 1970s when governors like George Wallace of Alabama, Ross Barnett of Mississippi and Lester Maddox of Georgia retained the racist practices. Even in a border state like Kentucky, controlled by Democrats, the Louisville public schools weren’t really integrated to any extent until 1975.

As a result, African-American community leaders like Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., father of the late civil rights leader and an activist himself, and the great Jackie Robinson, born in Georgia but raised in California, were registered Republicans.

But, as the old saying goes, that was then, this is now. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed under a Democratic administration and the party since then has been at the forefront on issues like voting rights. Republicans…not so much.

What they fail to note is that northern Democrats, figures like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and one-time vice president and Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey, guided the party away from its racist history, drawing the ire of segregationist Democrats like Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who eventually split and joined the Republicans.

While inveterate racists like Thurmond and Helms walked across the aisle to join the GOP, the late and honored Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, one of the great civil rights leaders, chose the Democrats and the party today has a substantial advantage regarding the number of African-Americans members in Congress over the Republicans. Meanwhile the party of Lincoln has deemed fit to provide us with the likes of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, and a fellow named Donald J. Trump, of whom the less said the better.

Condemning the sins of the past while refusing to acknowledge the virtues of the present is to be intentionally misleading. Anyone who persists otherwise is either lying or incredibly stupid. You choose. People and institutions change. Ronald Reagan was once a liberal Democrat. Are you going to challenge his conservative bona fides?

And, of course, after offering a discourse on racism, Rand couldn’t button his lip.

Also on Fox News, his home away from home, Paul hectored Biden over his proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package, complaining that the president is reneging on a commitment to govern in a bipartisan manner.

“Well, you know, just a couple months ago, we were hearing from President Biden, the newly inaugurated President Biden, that he was going to unify the country, and then we were going to work together and have bipartisanship,” Paul said.

“I’m still waiting, Mr. President,” he said. “I haven’t seen any of that. I think what I have seen so far is it’s Biden’s way or the highway.”

What he’s saying, of course, is if Biden refuses to capitulate to Republican demands that proves he’s power crazy and will steamroll the GOP; which serves as the minority by a fraction of a hair.

The issue here is congressional Republicans view bipartisanship as a one-way street to be utilized only by Democrats approaching them with hat in hand. Biden’s inability to show opposition Republicans the wisdom of his ways is a launching pad to oppose Democrats at the polls in 2022 and Biden in particular in 2024.

The problem with that plaint is that Biden, after 100 days in office, remains very popular. A CNN poll released Wednesday showed that 52 percent of those questioned approved of his tenure as president thus far. That ain’t nothin.’ A Politico/Morning Consult survey also released on Wednesday placed his approval at an astounding 60 percent.

Trump never crossed the 50 percent threshold during his entire time in office. He ended up, according to Gallup, at 34 percent.

And the infrastructure package Biden is offering? A Monmouth University poll places support for the measure at – now get this – 68 percent. Only 29 percent oppose.

So Paul is not only taking on the sitting president but more than two-thirds of the population as well.

It was Lee Iacocca who advised people to “lead, follow or get out of the way.” It’s long past time for Rand Paul to get out of the way.

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  1. chas brannen says:

    Bill: A friend has suggested that Rand Paul reminds him of: “a smart, autiustic adolescent”!

  2. Willie says:

    To echo you, If Bill Straub is anti-Rand Paul, then that automatically makes me pro-Rand Paul.

  3. Bill Medley says:

    I agree whole heartedly and yearn for the day “when a new broom sweeps clean in Kentucky”.

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