Perusing the news today, it appears that there is still a serious systemic problem unfolding in the EU that could make the 2008 financial panic look like a picnic. The FDIC informs us that there are more than 700 banks on the FDIC's problem list (compared with around 250 two years ago). Over at the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton expressed reluctance to assist the State of Arizona in enforcing a recently passed State law that, in short, was a mirror of almost never enforced Federal law.
But the zeitgeist that consumes the minds of journalists and bloggers after Tuesday's elections centers on a heretofore unknown Kentucky politician named Rand Paul. Over at Memeorandum you would think he is Elvis found again given the twenty or so articles about him. And that's just today. Yesterday he owned the entire front page of the site because he shared some opinions about the 1964 Civil Rights Act that were nowhere to be found in the Emily Post guide to Politically Correct thought in Washington DC. Today he blundered into the Obama administration's demogoguing of the BP oil spill by making this monstrously unacceptable comment: "Accidents happen".
Tomorrow the news will be all about Rand Paul's decision to not go on the Meet The Press.
Rand Paul clearly has a lot of people on edge. The liberal media, the mental midgets in charge of Congress today and some suspects on the Right don't simply dislike Rand Paul but consider him the personification of the devil (his father, Ron Paul) himself. Funny thing, Rand Paul's political curriculum vitae is just slightly less extensive than Barrack Obama's was in 2006. Obama won some State Senate races and thereafter accomplished little other than voting "Present" during controversial legislation while Paul was practicing eye surgery and helping with his father's presidential aspirations.
As to their political philosophies Paul is much more unguarded. He's a libertarian. He questions conventional political wisdom. He embraces the Tea Parties. He's also considered a raving nutcase (in the minds of his some of his conservative critics) who desires to destroy Federalism and the tenets of Edmund Burke's Conservatism that have been carefully constructed since 1950's by the disciples of William Buckley. And that's just what his Republican critics have to say about him. Liberals simply believe he is a racist, illiterate and ignorant, Bircher loving, Confederate reprobate hoodlum that hangs around the Truthers his father refused to repudiate.
No other meme could get him the wall to wall attention he's received since Tuesday.
So how does a political weirdo like this hang 23 points on Trey Grayson, who was Mitch McConnell's handpicked replacement for the vacancy left by the retiring (only at McConnell's "Luca Brasi" type suggestion) Jim Bunning?
I'll tell you how (and Republicans should take note of this): Trey Grayson was unelectable. That he lost by 23 points to an outlier should demonstrate to anyone that Grayson was incapable of beating the ultimate Democratic nominee, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. But there is a back story here. Trey Grayson succumbed to some "mavericky" behavior several years ago when he openly attacked then Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher when the Governor was under a withering attack from Democratic Attorney General Greg Stumbo, who was accusing Fletcher of government hiring improprieties. (Most Kentuckians found that charge laughable since government jobs here are the very currency of Kentucky politics) But those charges were later dropped. However, the conservative Republican base never forgot Grayson's betrayal. A number of Republican heavyweights in the Kentucky Republican party, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy, warned McConnell and Grayson at the time that they would pay a price for their crippling attack on Fletcher, the first Republican Governor elected in decades. The rest, as they say, is history. Trey Grayson, the ostensible McConnell heir apparent was found to be unelectable at a most unfortunate time when incumbents and insiders came to be viewed as the problem. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and renowned Republican fundraiser, is now forewarned and hopefully somewhat wiser.
Rand Paul, like him or not, has demonstrated that the "old school" Republicans (especially the "mavericky" types in the Republican Party that occasionally suck up to the approval of Liberals) may find they have lost their base. That this has happened in McConnell's own state is a harbinger of things to come.
On the other hand, liberal Democrats are so alarmed by the Paul victory that they have singled him out for a very particular kind of treatment: front page, above the fold for as long as it takes. They have a long road ahead of them though. The first poll out after the Tuesday primary shows Paul leading Democrat Jack Conway by 25 points.
Hope and Change. You betcha.