JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 10, 2010
If you haven't seen it already, our Jason Zengerle has a report for GQ about Rand Paul's colorful college history:
The strangest episode of Paul's time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul's teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, "He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot." After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. "They told me their god was 'Aqua Buddha' and that I needed to bow down and worship him," the woman recalls. "They blindfolded me and made me bow down to 'Aqua Buddha' in the creek. I had to say, 'I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.' At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no."
I'm pretty sure idol worshipping is a no-no in Kentucky as well. This is really the dilemma of the libertarian -- or, to be precise, the paleolibertarian, as Jason explained in his great piece for TNR -- who enters electoral politics. There are districts in this country where voters can tolerate candidates with a history of kidnapping women and trying to make them smoke pot. And there are districts where people can tolerate candidates who oppose virtually the entire federal government, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, on principle. But there aren't a lot of districts where people can tolerate both those things. That's you so rarely see libertarians trying to run for national office.
This is also why you see Paul's campaign wildly retreating on every front. (The campaign has a hilarious statement out attacking Jason, threatening legal action, but not denying the story at all. You can't sue if the story is true, you know.) Paul is desperately attempting to transform himself into a standard-issue Republican, running to stop the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda. If he wins, and he well might, it will be because he managed to define himself in opposition to what he and his father have always stood for. That he has to do this even in a very conservative state, in an overwhelmingly Republican year, tells you where paleolibertarianism stands in relation to American public opinion.