The Bermuda Triangle. Jack the Ripper. The Zodiac codes and series of murders. These famous mysteries remain in the public imagination — but can we add another from Kentucky? The Washington Post tried to get to the bottom of a bizarre attack on Sen. Rand Paul last month by neighbor Rene Boucher, and still can’t quite come up with an answer:
They might have sparred over health care or taxes, but an acquaintance of both said they stood in their yards roughly a decade ago shouting at each other over the grass clippings Paul’s mower had shot on Rene Boucher’s property.
“ ‘I ask him, I tell him and he won’t pay attention,’ ” the acquaintance, Bill Goodwin, recalls Boucher saying after the argument. “ ‘One of these days.’ ”
That day may have come last month, when Boucher’s attorney said in an interview his client attacked Paul over long-simmering disagreements between the two about the care of grass, trees and other landscaping on their adjacent properties in an exclusive gated community.
The account marks the first time either side has offered a reason for one of the nation’s most talked-about political mysteries: What sparked the worst attack on a sitting senator in decades?
An even bigger mystery may be why so few people are discussing it. The Post deserves credit for this follow-up; the more local Louisville Courier-Journal, part of the USA Today network, hasn’t covered it since Boucher’s November 9th not-guilty plea. Until last week, the story mostly fell off the media radar, which has been deluged with scandal and intrigue in other places.
Even the victim doesn’t want to get into it. Paul went on Fox News last week to discuss his recovery and revealed that Boucher said something to him at the time. Paul didn’t reveal what Boucher said to him, arguing that it was unimportant, as John noted at the time:
“After my ribs were broken, then he said things to me to try to indicate why he was unhappy,” Paul said. He added, “I guess to me the bottom line is it isn’t so important. If someone mugs you is it really justified for any reason?
“So I think the more people belabored ‘Oh, well was it about yard clipping? Was it because he hates Donald Trump? Does he…he hates you because you oppose Obamacare?’ You don’t really know what’s in someone’s mind and so it may have some relevance but for the most part, the real question should be: Are you allowed to attack someone from behind in their yard when they’re out mowing their grass? Even if you dislike something about their yard.”
The answer to Paul’s question is that motive doesn’t matter in terms of right and wrong, but it’s very important in terms of investigation and justice. Boucher’s attorney insists that the conflict is personal rather than political, but he has an incentive to stick to that line. The FBI is reportedly investigating the attack, and if they find it was politically motivated, it could cost Boucher years in federal prison, where yard maintenance will no longer be an issue. On the other hand, Paul could stick it to Boucher by claiming it was political, but seems uninterested in doing so.
Perhaps Boucher’s eventual trial will clear this up. If it wasn’t politically motivated, Boucher’s attorney will undoubtedly subpoena Paul to testify as to what Boucher said after the assault. In the meantime, we’ll have to stick with more easily resolvable mysteries, such as the Money Pit on Oak Island.