Amid a bipartisan push to reform America’s drug sentencing laws, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday to drum up grassroots support for this reform effort.
While their proposal has a lot of merit, Paul seemed to me to be wasting his breath appearing on MSNBC where the message of prison and drug sentencing reform is already a winning one. It would seem more prudent for Booker and Paul to take their message to conservative outlets where there would be resistance to this reform.
But the conversation quickly turned from Paul’s proposal to comments he made before he was even elected to office about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. MSNBC’s flagship host Rachel Maddow went to town on Paul for suggesting that the CRA might have violated the rights of business owners. Paul’s take on the Civil Rights Act remains a bugaboo for Maddow even to this day (the most recent segment on her program litigating the Kentucky senator’s position on civil rights broadcast on July 25.)
But Paul spun that moment in his favor rather deftly and, as Ace of Spades blogger Drew M. suggested, probably scored some points among conservatives when he attacked that network’s myopia and serial fact distortion.
“I’ve always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act,” Paul said when asked about his 2010 comments. “So, people need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I’ve changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act.
“Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I learned my lesson – to come on MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion, the liberals will come out of the woodwork and they go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act, and you’re some terrible racist,” Paul continued, effectively jabbing at liberalism’s anxiety with dissent and unpopular thought.
MSNBC host Ari Melber asked Paul why he simply did not explain that his take on the CRA had “evolved” over the years. Paul replied that there had been no evolution to explain.
“I’ve been attacked by half a dozen people on your network trying to say that I’m opposed to the Civil Rights Act,” Paul added. “So, I’m not really willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this.”
Melber protested. “I think the honest discussion, as you said, that some titles of it, Title 2 and Title 7 that relate to…”
“The honest discussion would be that I never was opposed to Civil Rights Act,” an exasperated Paul interjected. “And when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.”