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Monday, June 7, 2010

Color Commentary

Rand Paul is actually likening himself to Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr. No, really.

I am unlike many folks who run for office. I am an idealist. When I read history I side with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas who fought for 30 years to end slavery and to integrate public transportation in the free North in the 1840s. I see our failure to end slavery for decade after decade as a failure of weak-kneed politicians. [...]

Segregation ended only after a great and momentous uprising by idealists like Martin Luther King Jr., who provoked weak-kneed politicians to action.

This excerpt came from an op-ed piece in the Bowling Green Daily News where the new message from the Rand Paul camp has morphed into a "I love the black man" strategy. It's a laughably predictable tactic considering the rightful firestorm of criticism that Paul drew from statements regarding the portion of the Civil Rights Act that desegregated lunch counters. His walk-back isn't likely to work out for him, as the damage has already been done.

The Daily News piece continues:

In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state.

For example, I am opposed to the government telling restaurant owners that they cannot allow smoking in their establishments. I believe we as consumers can choose whether to patronize a smoke-filled restaurant or do business with a smoke-free option. Think about it — this overreach is now extending to mandates about fat and calorie counts in menus. Do we really need the government managing all of these decisions for us?

As a former smoker of over 18 years, I can tell you an eating establishment is far more pleasant to dine in when you don't have to be sitting next to a smoker. Granted, I think it should be a choice of the owner of the establishment on whether or not smoking should be allowed, but for Rand Paul to use the memories of King and Douglas to promote a "smoke here, smoke now" mentality is rather odd and misplaced.

While Paul is likely approaching asking the question "where in the Constitution does it say I don't have the right to smoke here?" the opposite could just as easily be asked - where in the Constitution does it say that you do? In the end, as Paul correctly stated, people will choose whether they want to eat in a smoke filled environment or not. It's a fair assumption that places that allow smoking in all sections of their restaurant will likely see revenues fall as patrons will choose to dine elsewhere. Is Paul angling for "smokes only" restaurants?

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