Truther consequences: how Sen. Rand Paul is covering up his conspiracy theorist past.
As this government-bashing tea partier moves toward a White House bid, journalists scrutinize his every wiggle and whisper. But one core component of his political personality has largely escaped exploration: The senator is close to being a full-blown conspiracy theorist.
In 2010, before winning his Senate seat, Paul sat for an interview with Luke Rudkowski, a libertarian YouTube personality who specializes in quizzing political leaders about the plot to establish a "one-world socialist government." Rudkowski asked what Paul knew of the Bilderberg Group, a collection of government and business leaders whose annual conference is a favorite target of conspiracy-mongers. Paul replied, "Only what I've learned from Alex Jones." That's right: Alex Jones, the radio host who claims that Bilderberg is a key part of a global plot to create a "scientific dictatorship" that will exterminate the "useless eaters," a.k.a. 80 percent of the human population.
Paul described the group to Rudkowski in unequivocally Jonesian terms, as "very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage ... They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook." The previous year, Paul had appeared on Jones' radio show, noting that he had watched his host's videos and expressing support for the effort to "expose people who are promoting this globalist agenda." (In turn, Jones urged his listeners to send money to Paul's Senate campaign.)
It wasn't until after reaching the Senate in 2011 that Paul clammed up about the Bilderbergers. In 2012, Rudkowski confronted Paul on a Washington street, challenging his endorsement of Mitt Romney, who'd attended Bilderberg sessions. The senator walked on as an aide tried to shoo Rudkowski away. When, earlier this year, the conservative Washington Free Beacon asked a top Paul aide if the senator had ever bought into the Bilderberg conspiracy theory, he jokingly dodged the question, saying Paul believes "Build a Burger would be a great name for a fast-food chain."
Jones' show has also been a hub of the so-called truther movement, which claims that the 9/11 attacks were mounted or permitted by the US government. During Paul's 2010 Senate campaign, it was revealed that his campaign spokesman was a truther (as well as a death-metal musician with racist and Satanic tendencies). When a Kentucky newspaper asked if Paul agreed with this view, his campaign replied that it was a "complicated situation" with "truth on both sides."
Paul had his own conspiracy theory about 9/11. In speeches in 2008 and 2009, he warned about the influence of military contractors and zeroed in on Halliburton, the corporation that Dick Cheney headed before becoming vice president. Cheney, he noted, opposed the advance of American troops into Baghdad when he was defense secretary during the first Gulf War. Yet as veep he changed his mind because, Paul explained, the war would benefit Halliburton with a "billion-dollar no-bid contract."
Critics have long questioned the Bush administration's motives for invading Iraq. But Paul's claim that a leader of his own party sacrificed American lives not for a misguided view of national security, but for naked greed-practically a charge of treason--was remarkable. After Mother Jones reported on his statements earlier this year, the senator backpedaled. When he was asked by ABC News if he really believed Cheney had been motivated by financial ties to Halliburton, Paul replied, "I'm not questioning Dick Cheney's motives."
Paul also has embraced one of the conspiracy theories promoted by his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul: that leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico are seeking to merge their countries into a socialist megastate that would issue the "Amero" currency to replace US and Canadian dollars and the Mexican peso. (Antifeminist campaigner Phyllis Schlafly and Jerome Corsi, who led the 2004 Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, are among the key proponents of this idea.)
At an appearance for his father's 2008 presidential campaign in Bozeman, Montana, Rand Paul was asked what steps his dad would take to thwart the scheme to impose a North American superstate. The first thing to do, he said, was "publicizing that it's going on" and pushing Congress to "stop it." He insisted the Amero push was "a real thing" but cautioned, "If you talk about it like it's a conspiracy, they'll paint you as a nut. It's not a conspiracy, they're out in the open about it ... I guarantee it's one of their long-term goals--to have one sort of borderless mass continent." He did not specify who "they" were.
Asked about these comments after entering the Senate in 2011, Paul hedged: "It's not a matter of what I believe. It's just a matter of whether or not there are viewpoints who believe that joining together as a North American Union" would be a good thing. But, the interviewer shot back, who's actually calling for that? "A lot of writers," Paul answered. "You can do an internet search."
Before he was a senator, Paul freely swam in dark conspiratorial waters. After being elected, he shut up. So did he not believe all that stuff? Or did they get to him? Perhaps Rand Paul fears that many voters cannot handle the truth--his truths--and that the only way he can reach the White House is via, yes, a conspiracy of silence.
S*@! MY DAD SAYS If Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) do battle for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, they'll have to carefully manage their most popular yet embarrassing surrogates: their fathers. Here's a quick guide to the septuagenarian bomb-throwers.--Tim Murphy RON PAUL RAFAEL CRUZ AGE 79 75 RESIDENCE Lake Jackson, Texas Carrollton, Texas LIFE STORY OB-GYN turned cranky Cuban revolutionary turned libertarian congressman fiery born-again pastor LIKES Gold, raw milk God, guns DISLIKES The Federal Reserve Communists CHOICE On when abortion may be On Obama: "I'd like to QUOTES okay: "If it's an honest send him back to Kenya, rape." back to Indonesia." "The individual suffering "Evolution is one of the from AIDS certainly is a strongest tools of victim--frequently a Marxism." victim of his own lifestyle--but this same "Sexual orientation is a individual victimizes choice, not a civil innocent citizens by right." forcing them to pay for his care." "They have to destroy all loyalties except loyalty On 9/11: "If we ever get to the government. That's the full truth, we'll find what's behind homosexual out that our government marriage." had it in the records exactly what the plans were." THAT TIME ... published newsletters ... toured Texas in HE ... warning about "the coming support of Fidel Castro in race war" and suggesting the late 1950s. (He later New York City be renamed went on an anti-Castro Welfaria, Zooville, or apology tour.) Lazyopolis. I LOVE YOU, "Don't be trashing my dad "My father has been my DAD! too much."--Rand Paul hero my whole life."--Ted Cruz BUT ... "I've pretty much quit "Pastor Cruz does not answering [questions about speak for the my dad]."--Rand Paul senator."--Ted Cruz's spokesman
Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.