“The truth is not for all men,” Ayn Rand said, “but only for those who seek it.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a devotee of the famed philosopher of self-interest, had a tough time with the truth this past week.
First, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow showed that a speech Paul gave supporting Ken Cuccinelli’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign contained lines cribbed from a Wikipedia entry on the film “Gattaca.” Then BuzzFeed and Politico got in on the act, noting that Paul had taken chunks of text from publications by the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, among other sources.
Paul, who is widely expected to compete in the 2016 presidential primaries, initially responded with umbrage: He said he wished dueling was legal in Kentucky so he could challenge those accusing him of plagiarism to a face-off.
Then came a not-quite mea culpa: “Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes — some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly,” senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement Tuesday.
Then came some more umbrage. “To tell you the truth, people can think what they want, I can go back to being a doctor anytime, if they’re tired of me,” Paul told The New York Times. “I’ll go back to being a doctor, and I’ll be perfectly content.” Very presidential of him.
But Paul wasn’t done. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, while talking about ads meant to draw tourists back to areas hit by Hurricane Sandy, he worked in a shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, R, who had swept to re-election less than 24 hours earlier. “In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office,” Paul said. “I’m thinking there might be a conflict of interest there.”
Paul, for looking like a copycat when people like their presidential candidates to be original, you had the worst week in Washington.
Congrats, or something.
Cillizza covers the White House for The Washington Post and writes The Fix, its politics blog.