Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is running for President. There's little question of that. But he's got a lot to get ahead of if he hopes to have a prayer of doing so successfully.
Namely, as even the Rightwing HotAir site observes, he's got some race issues to deal with, such as "his old comments on the Civil Rights Act, his father's newsletters, having the 'Southern Avenger' on staff, even agreeing with Cliven Bundy about federal land-use practices before quickly denouncing him after his comments about blacks went viral."
So Paul has been spending the last year or so on an occasional outreach tour to African-American communities, trying to smooth things over. His latest stop was in Memphis on Friday, where he met with black pastors and, afterward, very softly --- though in terms that will reverberate in a 2016 GOP Presidential primary nonetheless --- broke with his party's orthodoxy on discriminatory polling place Photo ID restriction laws. Sort of...
From Jeremy W. Peters in the NYTimes [emphasis added]...
"Everybody's gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing," Mr. Paul said in an interview. "I think it's wrong for Republicans to go too crazy on this issue because it's offending people."
Mr. Paul becomes the most prominent member of his party - and among the very few - to distance himself from the voting restrictions and the campaign for their passage in states under Republican control, including North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, that can determine presidential elections. Civil rights groups call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout.
For the record, it's not just "civil rights groups" that "call the laws a transparent effort to depress black turnout," so do federal courts and the U.S. Dept. of Justice and Republican Colin Powell and state Sen. Dale Schultz (R-WI) and others.
That said, restricting legal (largely Democratic-leaning minority, poor, student and elderly) voters from the voting booth because they lack the very specific type of Photo ID now being required by Republicans to vote, isn't a problem because "it's offending people." It's a problem because it robs Americans of their most basic freedoms, specifically, their opportunity to exercise the right that protects all other rights: the right to vote.
Paul has made his career out of pretending to give a damn about personal rights, liberties and freedoms. In fact, people have the freedom to "offend" anyone they want. That's covered by the First Amendment. What they don't, or shouldn't, have the freedom to do is, is rob them of their most basic right to participate in the lifeblood of American democracy: the vote. That's precisely what Paul's own party has been attempting to do all across the country.
"Notably, he did not on Friday denounce voter ID laws as bad policy," Peters reports. "Instead, in his comments, he suggested that Republicans had been somewhat tone deaf on the issue."
Again, tone deafness is not the problem either when it comes to basic rights. But, so far, Paul doesn't seem to have heard that part either.
We'll be far more impressed with Paul's newly suggested position on keeping legal voters from voting with polling place Photo ID restrictions when he displays the courage --- and the lack of hypocrisy --- to come out, once and for all, in no uncertain terms, for the rights he pretends to give a damn about, particularly, the right to vote in free and fair elections.
And we couldn't care less if that position "offends" the Senator from Kentucky.