The last of these columns ran in February—which happens to be when his communications chief, Brian Darling, left for the private sector. Darling declined to speak on the record, but it’s easy to infer that Paul’s missed a step since his Senate communications team was reduced to one person, Jillian Lane. Last week, Paul responded to drone strikes that had killed turncoat American citizens—an issue he’d become an expert on—with a short statement and a brief discussion on Fox and Friends.
Three weeks earlier (as noted in every “Rand Paul blows it” column), Paul arrived in Charleston, South Carolina for a speech and addressed the killing by police of Walter Scott in some media interviews. His comments to CNN, the New York Times, and Bloomberg were overwhelmed when he did not explicitly mention Scott during the speech itself. “In the midst of this national discussion on an issue that he wants to be known for,” snarked MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, ”Senator Rand Paul, bravely today, while he was in South Carolina, said nothing about it.”
In Paulworld, this feels like a pile-on, both unfair and unlearned. The senator simply isn’t inclined to leap into the story of the day. He largely eschews the hallway interviews that other senators use to quickly make news. He prefers to sit and compose an argument, then shoot it into the conversation, on his own terms. It took him days to respond to the Ferguson unrest, and he followed up his column on it with a personal visit to the city. Where was the backlash then?