I'd never want to run for public office, for a number of reasons. But if I did, I'd go into it knowing that part of the deal was suffering a whole lot of slings and arrows. No one should accept people lying about them, of course, but if you become a candidate, people on the other side are going to criticize you. Some may even mock you. That may not be fun to endure, but if you think you can run for office and not be the target of rhetorical assaults, you're a fool.
The smart ones figure out ways to turn the criticism to their advantage -- Barack Obama, who has probably been on the receiving end of more vile slander than any politician in memory, certainly has. Nikki Haley, who is likely to be South Carolina's next governor, has shown that talent. But it's always amazing to see politicians who whine and moan about the fact that people are criticizing them. Sarah Palin, of course, is the ne plus ultra of politician whiners, but now Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul is giving it his best shot. Talking Points Memo summarized Paul's return to TV after he scooted away in the aftermath of his remarks on the Civil Rights Act:
2:01 Paul blasts the left for being uncivil. "I take great pride in presenting myself as someone who is thoughtful, someone who is respectful and I see more of an intolerance on the left in the sense that they won't discuss the ideas in a sane way, other than to call me names and call me hateful things that really doesn't further the discussions of any of these problems in our country."...
4:35 Paul explains that he's been victimized for having the fortitude to raise issues with the Civil Rights Act others are afraid to discuss. "I think the Civil Rights Act was necessary to right a great wrong," he says, "and yet I'm vilified for having any kind of audacity to at least discuss any of it. I think that's really--it gets away from having any kind of, you know, any kind of real discussion on television."
Look, what happened to Rand Paul was this: He had a bunch of political views that he didn't seem to have given much detailed thought to. Then he got questioned about those views, and it turned out they led him to some kind of crazy places, like saying the Civil Rights Act's prohibition on racial discrimination in public accommodations was too much of an infringement on private business. Then people pointed to that and said that Paul's ideas were crazy. No one was criticizing his "audacity." As for the "hateful things" he says he's been called, I don't know what he's referring to, but maybe, like Palin, he spends his time trolling little-known blogs to find people being mean to him so he can complain about it. But if he can't take the heat of a campaign, how's he going to face down America's mortal enemies and slay the dragon of big government?
-- Paul Waldman