Jonathan Chait

Rand Paul On BP

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Watch Rand Paul dodge and weave when Dave Weigel asks him if he supports the BP escrow fund:

RN: You've started to take heat for your approach to the BP escrow fund. Do you support the fund, the way it's set up?

PAUL: Well, I don't think there are many people who don't believe in any regulations, myself included, and even my dad -- I don't think you'll hear him say he doesn't believe in any regulation. But I'm not sure I have the answer to that, sincerely. I think everyone in the country wants BP to pay for the clean-up, myself concluded. I've never had any argument with that -- it's amazing how you say things and they get blown into things you didn't say! I'm not even sure I can talk to some people anymore because they take things out of context.

RN: But do you support the set-up of the fund? Do you oppose regulating offshore drilling?

PAUL: There should be some regulations, but I want to do it in a rational, reasonable way, and ask: Did they obey the regulations? Do we not have enough regulation, and do we need two blow-out preventers from now on? These are the things scientists and inventors should tell us. Should we be drilling at that level? There are a lot of issues, but we shouldn't react in an emotional way and say no more drilling. I see some of that emotionalism happening because the president feels trapped -- his advisers say you've got to be tough, you've got to have tough language. I'm not sure that's a rational way to handle this.

RN: To finish up, though: Do you oppose the fund? I'm not going to trap you and ask whether or not it was a "shakedown," but do you think it's legal and legitimate?

PAUL: I was listening to some people on the Hill today, and they were looking for the justification for setting it up. I don't know what the legal justification is -- I'm not an expert in whether Congress has to give you authority or the president has authority to do it. Those issues take research and time, and I'm not going to make an off-the-cuff response.

There's a pattern to Paul's obfuscation. He's intellectually honest enough that he doesn't want to lie about his views. But he's not quite intellectually honest enough to actually say what his views are. So he just keeps talking about issues related to the question without answering it.

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