It’s hard to imagine a modern day politician underestimating the reaction among media when he or she plays the race card. Talking about racial issues, especially with an African-American running the White House, only will grab headlines and catapult a candidacy to the national stage.
This is exactly what happened last night when Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, as he looked to clear the air on his views of small government as it relates to civil rights, racism and segregation. Even though he repeatedly denounced racism (on the show and again today in a written statement), he still opened the door for more attacks as he used the analogy of a restaurant owner not being able to prevent patrons carrying a gun in the establishment.
No doubt there is some substance to what he is saying. With all legislation, there are some items that get included in a bill that might be considered “pork.” This is why the line item veto is still being discussed today. This is not saying however that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is bad legislation. For Rand Paul, it’s about smaller government and limiting its power to what type of rules and regulations it can impose on businesses. It’s that simple.
Did Rand Paul do a bad job of explaining his beliefs on The Rachel Maddow Show? Certainly. He could have easily moved the dialogue from civil rights to smaller government. This is an easy messaging technique in the art of an interview. Instead he was somewhat vague in his responses, leaving only confusion among those watching the program. As a result, we still don’t have a clear idea of his opinions on civil rights, and his name is being plastered all over the national media landscape.
Did Rand Paul know what he was doing during his interview? That question can be debated either way. The strategy of getting national attention has worked beautifully. The issue now is use that limelight to further his agenda and issues platform, where he may ultimately become the victim of his own success.