Rand Paul’s prickly condescending manner may not be successful for him as a presidential candidate. Less than 24 hours after yesterday’s desire to take up residency in the White House, he attacked NBC Today’s host, Savannah Guthrie. She asked him about his changes about Israel, Iran, and the defense budget, but he interrupted her and said, “Why don’t you let me explain instead of talking over me, OK?” He then told her that she should ask him, “Have I changed my opinion? That would sort of be a better way to approach an interview.” She politely asked him, “Is Iran still a threat?” Paul responded, “No, no, no, no, no, listen, you’re editorializing.” Paul saves “editorializing” for himself—as in yesterday’s announcement speech.
Joan Walsh described Paul’s “mansplaining”:
“What a steaming load of entitlement. Paul interrupts an interviewer, then blames her for talking over him and lectures her on “a better way to approach an interview.” When she accepts his premise, and asks the question the way he suggests she should ask it, he won’t accept it, and berates her yet again.”
The conservative Washington Post gave an extensive fact-check for Paul’s claims in yesterday’s announcement speech:
Paul: “Big government and debt doubled under a Republican administration. And it’s now tripling under Barack Obama’s watch. President Obama is on course to add more debt than all of the previous presidents combined.”
Fact: Every president inherits debt from the previous president, guaranteeing that the debt will grow. Raw numbers aren’t useful; percentage changes must be used to evaluate differences. The debt under Ronald Reagan (who Paul cited in his speech) increased 190 percent, compared to President Obama’s 108 percent—and Reagan was allowed to raise taxes 11 times. As for big government under President Obama, the federal government under the current president employs the fewest people since 1966. George W. Bush added 800,000 federal employees; President Obama reduced the number of federal employees by 700,000.
Paul: “We borrow a million dollars a minute. This vast accumulation of debt threatens not just our economy, but our security.”
Fact: This figure is more than half the size of the deficit in the Great Recession when the country was borrowing more than $2 million a minute.
Paul: “Congress will never balance the budget unless you force them to do so. Congress has an abysmal record with balancing anything. Our only recourse is to force Congress to balance the budget with a constitutional amendment.”
Fact: The budget was balanced and ran a surplus during four fiscal years in the Bill Clinton administration and the first year of the George W. Bush administration.
Paul: “Warrantless searches of Americans’ phones and computer records are un-American and a threat to our civil liberties. I say that your phone records are yours. I say the phone records of law-abiding citizens are none of their damn business. … The president created this vast dragnet by executive order. And as president on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”
Fact: “The president” in Paul’s speech is George W. Bush, who launched the program in secrecy after 9/11 with an “executive order.” The Obama administration increased internal oversight to Bush’s program.
Paul: “We must realize, though, that we do not project strength by borrowing money from China to send it to Pakistan.”
Fact: China is a biggest single holder of Treasury debt, owning $1.252 trillion as of October 2014, but that amounts to less than 10 percent of all U.S. debt held by the public.
Paul: “Let’s quit building bridges in foreign countries and use that money to build some bridges here at home. It angers me to see mobs burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America’ in countries that receive millions of dollars in our foreign aid.”
Fact: Foreign aid composes about one percent of the federal budget, and almost none of it goes for bridges. Much of it is military, especially our greatest recipient, Israel, and all countries receiving foreign aid, except Israel, must buy U.S. products, making U.S. workers the winners and helping U.S. taxpayers.
Paul needs to lie about President Obama because the president is having a great year. Here are some numbers—already Fact-Checked—that show this:
- The economy has added 7.2 million jobs, and the unemployment rate, 5.5 percent, is lower than the historical median of 5.6 percent in 1948.
- The number of job openings is up to its highest point in 14 years, and the number of long-term jobless has now dropped below where it was when President Obama took office.
- The number of businesses opening, 220,000 for the third quarter of 2014, grew at 18 percent, and the number of businesses shutting down has decreased 18 percent.
- Real weekly earnings are up 3 percent although the number of people on food stamps stays high.
- Sixteen million people have gained health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, shrinking the percentage of uninsured from 14.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent.
- The U.S. increased its domestic crude oil production last year by more than it has in over 100 years and cut its reliance on imported by more than half during President Obama’s administration. The country now relies less on imported oil than it has since the Nixon administration.
- The U.S. generated nearly 22 times more electricity from solar power in the most recent 12 months than it did in the year before Obama took office; the price of an installed photovoltaic panel has dropped by 63 percent since the end of 2010.
- U.S. exports went up 39 percent in 5 years.
- Corporate profits are up 174 percent since President Obama took office in 2009; the highest profits ever recorded for big corporations were in the third quarter of 2014.
The Washington Post listed other problems that Rand Paul had during his first 24 hours following his announcement speech:
After attacking Today’s Guthrie, he admitted to the New York Times that he should show reporters that they upset him.
He refused to give any exceptions such as rape, incest, and the life of the mother in making abortions illegal. Asked again about his position, he said he would answer the question when the Democratic National Committee gave its position. Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said:
“Here’s an answer. I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. Now your turn, Senator Paul. … And I’d appreciate it if you could respond without ’shushing’ me [referring to Paul’s attempt to shut up CNBC anchor Kelly Evans].”
No answer from Paul other than he criticized people for getting “tied-up in details” and said he would “keep an open mind” about Iran. In short, no comment.
A case from Ron Paul’s campaign in Iowa may come back to bite his son’s presidential run. One week before the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Dimitri Kesari, Ron Paul’s deputy campaign manager, gave a check for $25,000 to Kent Sorenson, an influential state senator. Two days later Sorenson defected from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. A Mother Jones article gives the details of this event and its aftermath. State and federal investigations led to information about the central figures in the Paul family’s political machine, many of them from the leading anti-union group, National Right to Work Committee. The problem may seem to belong to Ron Paul, but his son may suffer from his involvement with the situation and the people. Early in his senate career, Rand Paul cosponsored the National Right-to-Work Act, removing union rights from the entire United States, paying back John Tate, a former NRTWC vice president, who played a “crucial role” in Paul’s 2010 Senate campaign.
By now Sorenson is singing like a canary, including his getting $73,000 from the Ron Paul campaign and more money from Bachmann’s campaign before he defected. Less than two months ago, a Justice Department lawyer asked for a delay in sentencing Sorenson because of their progress on a “larger investigation” into the scandal. Rand Paul defended Jesse Benton, implicated in the Sorenson affair, after his resignation as Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 2014 campaign manager as an “honest” political operative who would be “welcome” on his 2016 team.
As a senator, Rand Paul might rise above all the problems that he has created. As a presidential candidate, not so much.