That Awkward Moment When Your Father Costs You the Presidency

 

shutterstock_79457221Ever since the idea of Rand Paul as a serious presidential candidate has emerged, I’ve thought the trajectory of the project inevitable: things start falling apart when the candidate’s father comes in for close scrutiny.

Now, maybe this isn’t fair. If kooky relatives are disqualifying for the presidency, after all, we might as well abolish the office tomorrow. When your dad has held federal office and created a distinct ideological brand of which you’re the direct inheritor, however, you’re going to be perpetually yoked to one another whether you like it or not. My guess is that this moment falls into the “or not” category. From the Washington Free Beacon:

Former Rep. Ron Paul said he believes the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and has kept this information hidden in a classified section of the 9/11 Commission report.

Paul, who made the comments during a radio interview last Friday, also argued that the crimes of Osama bin Laden were “minor” compared to the harm the U.S. government has caused since the 2001 attacks.

“I believe that if we ever get the full truth [about 9/11], we’ll find out that our government had it in the records exactly what the plans were, or at least close to it,” said Paul, during the interview with Money and Markets host Charles Goyette. “You already mentioned that [the U.S. government] had been warned that something was going to happen.”

However, Paul said he doubted that Bush administration officials personally helped plot the attacks.

“Does that prove the fact that our president and others actually sat down and laid the plans and did this? I don’t think it does,” he said.

Paul also said the U.S. government has been more destructive than 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

“Our own government did more harm to the liberties of the American people than bin Laden did,” said Paul. “[Bin Laden] was a monster himself, but that was minor compared to the damage done financially, the people that have died. And here we are, 24 years, and we’re still fighting a war in the pretense that had something to do with 9/11.”

It’s one of the basic rules of politics: if you’re explaining, you’re losing. Senik’s corollary to that rule: if you’re explaining the degrees of difference between you and a 9/11 truther, you’re drinking hemlock. 

If anything, Ron’s allegation may be worse than straight-up trutherism. Believing that 9/11 was an inside job at least gives you the tidy conviction that there were evil masterminds pulling the strings. Saying that others planned it, we knew, and we just watched the pitch go by? That’s monstrous (not to mention inexplicable).

Questions for the Ricochetti: What responsibility — if any — does Rand have to address his father’s comments? And do these kinds of statements have any influence on how you think about the son’s potential candidacy?

There are 25 comments.

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  1. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    As Jennifer Rubin’s explains here, Rand has enough problems with his own brand of know nothing foreign policy to more than match his bizarre father.

    • #1
  2. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    anonymous: Should not Senator Paul be judged based upon his own statements and actions and not those of his father?

    But he won’t be. Life isn’t fair. The association will stick because Ron Paul continues to be a public figure and because they do at least occasionally, if not generally, agree on America’s political needs. 

    Rand should begin with, “I love and respect my father.” Most voters on the Right, if not also on the Left, can respect a refusal to speak against one’s family.

    Next, “If you want to know more about my father’s beliefs, he is available for interviews.”

    Beyond that, I’m not sure there’s an upside to saying anything. At most, he should offer his own perception of events surrounding 9/11 and thereafter only refer reporters back to his original statement. If they persist, ignore them and take the opportunity to expound on current issues like Russia and Hamas. All candidates should learn to refuse disingenuous and absurd questions from reporters. 

    Regardless, this will affect Rand Paul’s campaign. Likewise, Jeb Bush doesn’t have a chance after so many years of Bush mockery which has certainly poisoned ever-gullible swing voters.

    • #2
  3. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Ron Paul isn’t just crazy. If that’s all it was, Rand might not have to address much.

    Ron Paul is downright treacherous. His “Ron Paul Institute” is little more than a Kremlin propaganda mouthpiece, as I point out here: http://ricochet.com/open-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-begins-and-the-ron-paul-institute-acts-as-its-propaganda-arm/

    So yeah, he has a responsibility to address this.

    • #3
  4. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    The Bush Sons have had to wear their father’s’ moderate garb’ (they appeared quite comfortable in it too) – no reason the Paul’s shouldn’t be subjected to the same treatment.

    The ‘Jew Issue’ along with stuff like this is just too much. It’s creepy. I’m sorry to say but they’re this generation’s Birchers.

    • #4
  5. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    I don’t think this is the first time that Ron Paul has strayed into Trutherism.

    • #5
  6. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Oh, absolutely we should judge Rand Paul based upon what his father says.

    Likewise, we should judge Ronald Prescott Reagan based upon what his father said, and elect him President.  

    Or not.

    • #6
  7. user_86050 Member
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    I’d have more sympathy for  a crazy relative. But the father was elected, multiple times, to the United Stated Congress. Maybe we shouldn’t place any shame on his son … instead, maybe we should place shame on the voters in his district. 

    Is this just another variant of the complaint that there were multiple warnings that the Bush Administration “ignored?”  Didn’t the 911 Commission describe the failure of imagination, such that there were reports of all the plan’s pieces but nothing to put them together?  Being warned isn’t much help unless it comes with specific steps that are combined into a confirmed plan. 

    I’m sure I could walk into Obama’s office and tell him that ISIS is plotting an attack on US soil. (Of course, in reality, I’d be surprised if they weren’t.) But unless I can bring specific evidence, I can’t claim after the fact that “I told you so.”

    • #7
  8. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I suppose it could be worse. A former Canadian defence minister (!!!!!) thinks we’re under threat from hostile extra-terrestrials secretly working with the US government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Hellyer#Extraterrestrial_issues

    • #8
  9. Totus Porcus Member
    Totus Porcus
    @TotusPorcus

    The problem is that Rand Paul’s ideas on foreign policy tend to echo Ron Paul’s ideas on foreign policy.  For that reason he needs to address his father’s kookier notions. 

    And, please, Paul the Younger, jettison your own as well while you’re at it.  It’s not 1912.  We cannot chose isolationism.  Do it now so you can say “I’ve already addressed that” in 2016. 

    And then I woke up . . . .

    • #9
  10. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    If you know that Ron Paul and Rand Paul are different people then you are probably a Ricochet subscriber.  Congratulations.

    • #10
  11. otherdeanplace@yahoo.com Member
    otherdeanplace@yahoo.com
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Though, of course, Hill won’t be held responsible for anything bad Bill ever said or did.

    • #11
  12. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    anonymous: Should not Senator Paul be judged based upon his own statements and actions and not those of his father?

     But you have not made a career of being your father’s political heir.

    • #12
  13. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Troy Senik, Ed.: “However, Paul said he doubted that Bush administration officials personally helped plot the attacks.”

     The attacks were planned before there was a Bush administration.

    • #13
  14. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I like Rand Paul -I am from Kentucky and I approve of grilling bureaucrats about why my toilet doesn’t work, even if it is quixotic.  I’d like to judge him on his own merits and not on his father’s.  I don’t even know how close they are.

    Alas, this may not be possible.  First, any national Rand Paul for President campaign will draw on the previous Ron Paul for President campaign infrastructure, so the argument that Rand Paul is really a stalking horse for his father will have some surface legitimacy.  Second, while they don’t appear to agree on everything, they seem to agree on enough that “Rand is just trying to sound moderate to get elected” is plausible.  It’s not fair, but it is.

    • #14
  15. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    Eustace C. Scrubb: Though, of course, Hill won’t be held responsible for anything bad Bill ever said or did.

     I don’t remember Bill ever saying that the US is worst than the terrorists, or promoting Kremlin propaganda against the US, or accusing the US government of perpetrating a terrorist attack on its own soil. 

    So….yeah there’s that. 

    • #15
  16. Dudley Member
    Dudley
    @Dudley

    Dear ole dad won’t cost Rand anything. Rand is not and was not a serious candidate.  He’s a novelty and an oddity, much like his father, and nothing more.

    • #16
  17. Nick Stuart Member
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    “Our own government did more harm to the liberties of the American people than bin Laden did,” said Paul. 

    My casual observation is Ron Paul is barking mad, and Rand is going to have to wear his dad’s nutty comments because fair or not, that’s how it is.

    But [realizing I’m taking Paul’s quote completely out of context] he might be on to something. Bin Laden didn’t make us:  constitute the TSA in the form into which it has metastasized, turn many Federal offices into bunkers, have NSA surveillance and data warehouse no one knows how much domestic correspondence, make the Department of Homeland Security buy billions o rounds of ammunition for what exactly?,  etc. And those are just some of the things to which a line (straight or dashed, bright or greyed out) can be drawn from 9/11 and the subsequent Global War on Terror.

    Then there are the no-knock warrants, civil asset forfeiture, IRS overreach, cupcake police, etc. We’re doing a pretty good job taking our own liberties away.

    • #17
  18. dittoheadadt Member
    dittoheadadt
    @dittoheadadt

    AIG:

    Eustace C. Scrubb: Though, of course, Hill won’t be held responsible for anything bad Bill ever said or did.

    I don’t remember Bill ever saying that the US is worst than the terrorists, or promoting Kremlin propaganda against the US, or accusing the US government of perpetrating a terrorist attack on its own soil.

    So….yeah there’s that.

    Didn’t he sell secret nuclear submarine technology to the ChiComs?  While he and Her Thighness were living under the same roof, to boot.

    “…the Chinese military admitted they now have 2nd strike capability against the US. They can thank Bill Clinton for this when back in the 90′s he sold them missile technology for campaign cash.”

    So…yeah there’s that.

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    ctlaw:

    anonymous: Should not Senator Paul be judged based upon his own statements and actions and not those of his father?

    But you have not made a career of being your father’s political heir.

    Could he have made a political career for himself without being associated as his father’s “heir”?  Should children of politicians be prohibited from public office?  Will history record Dubya as “H.W. Part 2”, or will Dubya be recorded as something different than H.W.?

    • #19
  20. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    In the end, how a president will deal with defense overrides all other considerations by light years.  If Rand Paul’s view of defense is anything close to his father’s, and he is nominated, every right thinking American will be duty bound to vote for the Democrat, because there aren’t any Democrats in the running that I know of that get a grade lower than Ron Paul’s.  If he’s nominated (a big If) and he is asked to clarify or renounce his father’s views and equivocates about it, I will vote Democratic for the first time in my life.    

    • #20
  21. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Misthiocracy:

    ctlaw:

    anonymous: Should not Senator Paul be judged based upon his own statements and actions and not those of his father?

    But you have not made a career of being your father’s political heir.

    Could he have made a political career for himself without being associated as his father’s “heir”? Should children of politicians be prohibited from public office? Will history record Dubya as “H.W. Part 2″, or will Dubya be recorded as something different than H.W.?

    The Pauls are clearly linked by ideology. The Bushes by ambition (if they were Democrats, the media would call it a commitment to public service). GHWB was not a political heir to Prescott Bush and W/Jeb were not political heirs to GHWB because they really had no politics/ideology to make a legacy of, let alone a fan base.

    • #21
  22. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    I’m not a big Rand Paul fan.  I’m definitely not a Ron Paul fan.  In this case, the apple a rolled a little way from the tree, but not all that far.  Thus, Rand Paul must overtly distance himself from his father, and soon, if he has any chance.

    Even so, I have a hard time conceiving of the coalition in the Republican party that can push Rand Paul successfully over the top for the nomination.  I’m unlikely to be part of that coalition.

    And from a purely optical/rhetorical perspective, I don’t perceive much pizazz in Paul. 

    On the other hand, I’m usually wrong about these things.

    • #22
  23. AIG Member
    AIG
    @AIG

    dittoheadadt: Didn’t he sell secret nuclear submarine technology to the ChiComs?  While he and Her Thighness were living under the same roof, to boot. “…the Chinese military admitted they now have 2nd strike capability against the US. They can thank Bill Clinton for this when back in the 90′s he sold them missile technology for campaign cash.” So…yeah there’s that.

     Hmm…no he didn’t. 

    1) The “article” (I can’t think of another word to call, but maybe you can) you link to is…absurd.

    2) The best you could find was a conspiracy theory website?

    • #23
  24. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Misthiocracy:

    ctlaw:

    anonymous: Should not Senator Paul be judged based upon his own statements and actions and not those of his father?

    But you have not made a career of being your father’s political heir.

    Could he have made a political career for himself without being associated as his father’s “heir”? Should children of politicians be prohibited from public office? Will history record Dubya as “H.W. Part 2″, or will Dubya be recorded as something different than H.W.?

     Agreed. Bush suffered from, and was helped by, association with his father. The damage/ benefit was limited because they were clearly extremely different people with a pretty different political outlook, whereas Rand has explicitly built his machine on an adoption of the his father’s grassroots movement. Part of the difficulty with repudiating his father is that chunks of his activist base find Ron persuasive on this subject. 

    If Bush had run in 1996, he’d have had a bigger problem. If Rand runs for President in 2016, Ron will be a problem. If Ron dies/ shuts up soon, he won’t be such a liability in 2020. 

    • #24
  25. user_5186 Member
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    James Of England: If Bush had run in 1996, he’d have had a bigger problem. If Rand runs for President in 2016, Ron will be a problem. If Ron dies/ shuts up soon, he won’t be such a liability in 2020. 

     Yes, this is what it comes down to.
    Rand Paul is distinctly different enough from his father that he could be viable. There is something I like in him but he could make me feel better if he would distance himself from the kooks in his family and his own acolytes. 
    Here’s what it is: he’s kind of our Obama in electability (seriously — he could be) but he has to explain his comfort (or lack of it) with some of the things that his father has said — you know, like with Jeremiah Wright. I don’t think Obama explained Wright at all but he didn’t have to because the media is run by his supporters and devotees. Being a Republican, Rand Paul will have to explain his connection to this kook in his life. Aaron Miller (#3) has a great approach.
    And Sabrdance (#15) makes me worry. Nothing wrong with a bit of caution.

    • #25

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