The benefit of this Rand Paul escapade is that his sincerely held views are on full display, and thus the ideology of the “liberty” movement gets a serious airing for the first time. But it’s not like anyone should be surprised by these views. Paul’s father said almost verbatim the same thing on Meet the Press in 2007. He wasn’t considered “serious” by the traditional media at the time. But now that there are tea party beat writers and they’re the newest rage in Washington, this gets exposure.
Joe Conason’s been onto them for a while:
To understand Rand Paul’s agonized contortions over America’s civil rights consensus, let’s review the tainted pedigree of the movement that reared him. Specifically, both the Kentucky Republican Senate nominee and his father, Ron Paul, have been closely associated over the past two decades with a faction that described itself as “paleolibertarian,” led by former Ron Paul aide Lew Rockwell and the late writer Murray Rothbard. They eagerly forged an alliance with the “paleoconservatives” behind Patrick Buchanan, the columnist and former presidential candidate whose trademarks are nativism, racism and anti-Semitism.
Repeatedly during Ron Paul’s political career, his associates used the same kinds of inflammatory rhetoric used by Buchanan in order to attract support and raise money, all while Paul himself pretended not to know what they were doing and saying in his name. Paul could always cover himself by saying, just as Rand Paul says now, that his opposition to civil rights statutes is purely constitutional and has nothing to do with bigotry.
From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
This is fun: In light of Rand Paul’s decision today to back out of his scheduled appearance on Meet the Press, it’s worth looking back to his father Rep. Ron Paul’s appearance on the show in 2007 — in which Ron Paul came out against the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the very same grounds that have gotten Rand Paul into such a mess this week.
Asked by then-host Tim Russert if he would have voted for the landmark legislation, Paul said he would have opposed it “If it were written the same way, where the federal government’s taken over property–has nothing to do with race relations.” He continued: “it has nothing to do with racism, it has to do with the Constitution and private property rights.”
That’s the same libertarian position articulated by Rand Paul on Rachel Maddow this week […]
Russert had asked Paul, then a Republican presidential candidate: “I read a speech you gave in 2004, the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. And you said this: ‘Contrary to the claims of’ ‘supporters of the Civil Rights Act of’ ’64, ‘the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. Instead, the forced integration dictated by the Civil Rights Act of’ ’64 ‘increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.’ That act gave equal rights to African-Americans to vote, to live, to go to lunch counters, and you seem to be criticizing it.”
Paul responded: “But when it comes, Tim, you’re, you’re, you’re not compelled in your house to invade strangers that you don’t like. So it’s a property rights issue. And this idea that all private property is under the domain of the federal government I think is wrong. So this–I think even Barry Goldwater opposed that bill on the same property rights position, and that–and now this thing is totally out of control. If you happen to like to smoke a cigar, you know, the federal government’s going to come down and say you’re not allowed to do this.”
(Video and transcript at TALKING POINTS MEMO link)