TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Rand Paul’s Ron Paul problem

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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You would think that Ron Paul would do every thing he could to help his son Rand’s presidential prospects.

Ideologically, no one who is considering a presidential run in 2016 is closer to the former Texas congressman’s brand of libertarian politics than Rand, even if there may be some policy differences between the two. And many suspect that even those differences may just be rhetorical.

But beyond ideology, as a father, you would think Ron would want to see his boy win the highest office in the land and that he would do whatever he could to help him achieve his ambition.

But Ron doesn’t seem to be helping Rand.

Fairly or unfairly, Rand is already saddled with his father’s baggage. In order to shake his father’s anti-Israel rhetoric and sometimes conspiratorial and bigoted newsletters, Rand has actively sought to reach out to the Jewish, pro-Israel and black community since being elected to the Senate.

But his father keeps piling on problems. It might be unfair that Rand has to answer for the sins of his father, but this is politics and it isn’t always fair. People view Rand through his father — perhaps as a more refined version of his father. And as much as Rand has tried to distance himself from his father’s more troubling associations and views, there remains a suspicion that it is all just rhetorical gloss.

As Rand’s former confederate-sympathizing aide recently put it, Rand’s just “play[ing] the game.”

Ron is making that game harder. Instead of lying low and refraining from doing anything that could cause his son any more problems, he founded an institute for “peace and prosperity” that included 9/11 truthers and secessionists on its board. And as The Free Beacon reported last week, Ron is planning to give a speech at a conference hosted by an organization who believes Jews are working on behalf of Satan to undermine the Catholic Church and whose leader engages in Holocaust denial.

Rand worked hard for his father’s two recent presidential bids. He stood strong as reporters blitzed him with questions about his father’s radical past associations and troubling comments. Why would his father not return the favor, if not because he is his father, then at least because of Rand’s loyalty to him?

Who knows exactly? Maybe it’s cluelessness. Maybe it’s indifference. Maybe he is pathologically drawn to crackpots. I certainly don’t believe Ron is actively searching out for speaking opportunities in front of anti-Semitic groups. But it just doesn’t seem like Ron cares all that much about making sure his post-political career doesn’t do damage to Rand’s presidential aspirations.

“I hope it doesn’t hurt him, but you know, you never know, what it might do,” the elder Paul told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto earlier this month when asked whether his online TV venture could hurt his son’s presidential prospects.

“I can’t believe it will hurt him — and hopefully it helps him to some degrees, because the views will be very similar, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about.”

I don’t know if it could hurt him? Isn’t the proper response, “I will do everything in my power to make sure I don’t hurt him?” Why not pass his post-Congress career plans and speeches by Rand’s people before going ahead with them?

Ron Paul’s seeming total disregard for how his behavior affects his son’s political prospects is stunning.

I don’t think Rand Paul can win the Republican primary and, for reasons TheDC’s Matt Lewis has pointed out, I know he can’t win a general election. I am certainly not heartbroken about that. But I do believe his libertarian perspective could be a useful voice in the GOP debate. Consciously or unconsciously, it seems like his father is working to make that voice harder to hear.

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