Politically motivated? FBI investigating attack on Rand Paul

Does an attack on a Republican senator reflect a danger from the Left, the nuttiness of one man, or a run-of-the-mill neighborhood dispute getting out of control? Rand Paul suffered more serious injuries than first announced in an assault perpetrated by his neighbor, retired physician and inventor Rene Boucher. At first, his office assured reporters that Paul was only slightly injured, but breathing difficulties revealed that the senator from Kentucky suffered five broken ribs — no small matter:

Rand Paul was recovering Sunday from five broken ribs, including three displaced fractures, after he was assaulted by a neighbor who tackled him from behind at the senator’s Kentucky home, officials said.

Senior Adviser Doug Stafford said it is unclear when the Republican senator will return to work since he is in “considerable pain” and has difficulty getting around, including flying. Stafford said this type of injury is marked by severe pain that can last for weeks to months.

“This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force,” Stafford said a statement to Fox News. …

“Displaced rib fractures can lead to life-threatening injuries such as: hemopneumothorax, pneumothorax, pneumonia, internal bleeding, laceration of internal organs and lung contusions.  Senator Paul does have lung contusions currently,” Stafford explained.

Other reports have Paul telling police he was “blindsided” by Boucher, which suggests that Boucher ran full force into Paul in a surprise attack. The next-door neighbor has been released on $7500 bail after being charged with a misdemeanor assault, but that might change in light of Paul’s injuries. Boucher has to appear in court on Thursday, and local prosecutors might well step up the charges at that point.

Boucher might consider himself lucky if that’s all that happens. The FBI has opened an investigation into the attack, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, working for now with the Kentucky state police. That might be a pro forma response to an elected federal official. On the other hand, they may want to know what motive Boucher had in this attack, and whether he worked with anyone else.

A Washington Post profile of Boucher suggests that the motive may have been political, perhaps over health-care reform efforts:

Jim Bullington, a former member of the city commission, knows both men. He said Sunday that Boucher is divorced and lives alone. Bullington described Boucher as a socialist.

“He’s pretty much the opposite of Rand Paul in every way,” Bullington said in an interview.

The neighbors had been known to have “heated discussions” about health care, Bullington said, adding that Boucher is an advocate of a national health system.

Another former colleague at the hospital where both Boucher and Paul practiced agreed, and his social media output appears to corroborate it:

“He was active on social media and said some negative things about the Republican agenda,” Jones said.

“I think it was unfortunate that they lived so close together,” he added.

A Facebook page that appeared to be Boucher’s included links to articles and memes critical of President Trump and a news article about a Montana Republican congressional candidate who attacked a reporter the day before winning his seat. The page said Boucher is a former Army pain-management specialist and graduated from the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines in 1984.

So what are we to think? My friends Paul Mirengoff and John Hinderaker at Power Line believe this is a product of the increased stridency of the Left. Paul pulls a few quotes from Boucher’s Facebook page and notes that Boucher “is the second Sanders supporter to assault and injure Republican politicians,” after James Hodgkinson gunned down several at a baseball practice earlier this year. Sanders isn’t responsible for either attack, Paul writes, but asks, “Is it a coincidence?”

John reviews the record and reaches more of a conclusion:

Maybe new facts will emerge. Maybe there is some other reason why Boucher assaulted Senator Paul, like a boundary dispute or an argument over a barking dog. But that seems unlikely. At present, it appears that Boucher’s assault of the Republican senator is another instance of political violence prompted by the climate of hate that has been fostered by the Democratic Party. Where will it end?

Perhaps, and both John and Paul may be proven correct in the end — but maybe we should wait a few days for more to be known about the dispute. America has a much bigger problem with neighborhood disputes turning into assaults and worse than we have of political violence targeting members of Congress. (The Investigation Discovery channel has a multi-season series entirely devoted to it — Fear Thy Neighbor — which gives a disturbing look into the pettiness of humanity and its descent into murders.) Even if politics was the only issue in Boucher’s mind, mental illness might play a larger role here anyway.

If the political polarities were reversed, I believe people on the Right would react in outrage over being painted with a broad brush over a neighborhood dispute, especially without all of the facts in hand. And … we’d be correct. Let’s wait for the rest of the story before we reach conclusions, and pray for Rand Paul’s recovery.