Friday, May 21, 2010


I'm predicting that Rand Paul is going to come through his Civil Rights Act flap with flying colors, because the right is beginning to coalesce around a message: the incident reveals the virtues of Paul. Paul, we're told, is an honest private citizen. He's not steeped in the evil ways of the politician. And the people trying to lay him low are the loathsome creatures known as professional journalists.

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto gives us a taste of this:

... Answering the way he did was a rookie mistake--or, to put it more charitably, a demonstration that Paul is not a professional politician.

... Far from being evasive, Paul has shown himself to be both candid and principled to a fault.

...He is honest, perhaps too honest for his own good....

Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner fleshes this out, and says that if you're a tea party candidate, they're coming for you next:

... Washington and New York elites are in a delighted uproar because Paul has conveniently handed them a sledge hammer with which to bludgeon him and by extension all candidates claiming a Tea Party connection.

...Odds are good that Paul is only the first of many Tea Party linked candidates whose inexperience in political combat with the media will spark such bloodbaths in coming months.

... many more of the Tea Party endorsed candidates who will gain visibility in the congressional campaign in coming months will, like Paul, be making their first-ever foray in seeking elective office. Like babes, they will go into brutal hand-to-hand combat with Establishment GOP, then Democratic opponents and their sympathetic journos, all of whom are seasoned veterans.

... For the Washington and New York sophisticates, however, there will be endless opportunities to howl in grinning protest, as there always are for city slickers when the hayseeds come to town and have no idea that those signs saying "Tea Partiers Need Not Apply" are meant for them....

"Need Not Apply" -- yup, asking tough questions of non-career-politician tea party candidates is the new Jim Crow.

Where is this heading? I think it's heading toward a new political world in which, once a candidate (or at least a right-wing candidate) gets a certain amount of traction, he/she won't even bother talking to reporters who aren't sympathizers. In other words, the Sarah Palin approach. Given the Internet, as well as the massive infrastructure of the right-wing print and broadcast media, why should any wingnut candidate with a sufficient following ever again give an interview to a journalist who's not a fan? Just spread your word exclusively through media your side controls -- that's how Palin does it (Berlusconi, too). The haters will come to you -- your Facebook posts, your tweets, your appearances on Hannity.

In the future, we may conclude that Sarah Palin was as much a Net-era campaign visionary as Barack Obama. Eventually, every politician, left, right, and center, may operate this way.

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