Senator Rand Paul has taken umbrage at the idea that he should have to answer for every crackpot idea of one of his supporters, allies, or intellectual forbearers. In an article in today’s New York Times, Paul was quoted as saying in an earlier interview “It loses its sense of proportion if you have to go through and defend every single person about whom someone says is associated with you.” [Rand Paul’s Mixed Inheritance, The New York Times.] There is a certain truth to that statement, although I should not that guilt by association has long been the stock in trade of political parties, and a tool particularly beloved by Republicans and conservative commentators. It is standard fair for FoxNews to suggest that any transgression by a Democrat somehow implicates every Democrat.
Senator Paul was particular upset by the fact that some people were suggesting that he somehow endorsed the racist views of a staffer (Jack Hunter AKA The Southern Avenger), even though he hired him knowing his views and record, and kept him on his staff for a while after his noxious views became public.
It is amusing, therefore, to see that while Senator Paul doesn’t want to take it, he can sure dish it out. While it is wrong, in his view, to level guilt by association, it is perfectly fine for him to use it as a sword. On Meet the Press today Senator Paul said that Hillary Clinton should be judges as a candidate and a politician based on what he called Bill Clinton’s predatory behavior towards Monica Lewinsky. [Rand Paul: The Clinton’s Should be Judged]
So it is wrong, wrong I tell you, to try to prove guilt by association against Rand Paul, but absolutely right for Senator Paul to tar Hilary Clinton by association. As Big Daddy once said, “mendacity.”