Thursday, March 07, 2013

Rand Paul's Broken Clock

Since yesterday's filibuster, I've noticed numerous conservatives and even liberals practically canonizing Rand Paul. They say he made some good points about drones and domestic policy and whatnot. And that he might be the future of a party in dire need of a savior.

Fair enough. But Rand Paul, like his father, is the proverbial broken clock — right for those two minutes a day when it's all but impossible to be wrong. It's during the other 23 hours and 58 minutes where he comes up short. 

Indeed, much of politics has been taken over by Broken Clock Syndrome, and it's clouding our already-cloudy collective judgment. Disappointed as we are by politicians who aren't on call with us 24-7, many have instead decided that the opposite extreme — two flashy minutes — is preferable. This is why President Obama disappoints so many supporters on the drone issue and why Rand Paul attracts those same people.

If Rand was just caulk for Obama's dent in the armor, he could be written off a sugar high, were it not for another symptom of BCS — the "real" factor. It's in vogue these days (for politicians and people alike) to be "real," as in, not a demagogue. Chris Rock called it "being a person" as opposed to being a partisan. The sentiment behind that is good; no one likes a person so beholden to the party line that they can't think rationally. But many people take it to the opposite extreme, so determined not to fall into Democrat or Republican camps that they adopt glaringly inconsistent and/or ignorant views just to hammer home that they're thinking for themselves.

It's this fervor to which Rand Paul caters. He knows that he must attract two types of people to his side — contrarian liberals disappointed with agreeing with Obama only 90 percent of the time, and conservative/libertarian Paul disciples in need of a publicly palatable issue. The best way to ensnare both is to say the right thing on a slam-dunk issue at the right moment — the Broken Clock moment.

Eventually, as it always does, the novelty of the Broken Clock will wear off. Most people will realize, as I often put it, that a Broken Clock politician is like having a boyfriend who beats the crap out of you, but recycles. In the end, the downside isn't worth the benefit.

Anyone who supports Rand Paul, and also supports civil rights, workplace regulation and a functioning government, needs to wake up for more than those two dazzling minutes per day.

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