There are still two weeks left until the midterm elections, but it’s not too early to declare a winner in the contest for the most despicable political ad of this campaign season. On Friday night, Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in
Frankly, I don’t blame him. First, no candidate over the age of, say, 30 should be held politically accountable for anything he or she did in college—short of gross academic misconduct or committing a felony. Second, and more importantly, a politician’s religious faith should simply be off-limits. If it’s disgusting when conservatives question Barack Obama’s Christianity, then it’s disgusting when Jack Conway questions Rand Paul’s.
Alas, as the guy who first shined a light on Paul’s NoZe membership and the Aqua Buddha prank in GQ this past summer, I suppose I’m responsible for supplying the raw material for
And that’s what’s so interesting about Paul’s membership in the NoZe. As the son of a Texas Republican congressman, he might have been expected to join a fraternity or a campus Christian group—as the sons of other prominent
What it says is that, unlike so many politicians who cast themselves as outsiders, Paul is the real deal. Time and again throughout his life—first as a student at Baylor; then as a renegade ophthalmologist who tried to secede from the specialty’s leading professional organization in protest of its membership rules; and finally as a Senate candidate who ran against the state’s Republican establishment in the GOP primary—Paul has demonstrated a profound lack of respect for authority and institutions. In this, he’s very different from the typical Republican senator. And if Paul makes it to
Granted, now that Paul’s running for the Senate, he’s a lot less forthright than he once was about this part of his character. In fact, while Conway obviously gets the lion’s share of the blame for making Paul’s behavior in college part of this campaign, I think Paul could have defused the entire Aqua Buddha story back in the summer if he’d simply owned up to it with something along the lines of, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.” Instead, he and his campaign offered up carefully worded statements that denied accusations his former classmate never made while refusing to address what she did say occurred.
Then again, maybe Paul was doing the politically smart thing by playing coy—in the hope of baiting
Jason Zengerle is a senior editor of The