The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

You have to give Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) credit for recognizing Republicans should be embarrassed by their stand on a woman’s right to choose.

While promoting his Life at Conception Act last year, Paul told CNN that “there are thousands of exceptions” to his bill, which would make all abortions and some forms of birth control illegal. His chief of staff later clarified that the “thousands of exceptions” the senator was referring to were individual cases where the life of the mother might be threatened. So there was one exception, really. And no other exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest.

Now, as the 2016 campaign begins, Paul wants Republicans to hide their obsession with social issues.

“I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues,” he said. He went on to reference “traditional marriage” as an issue young people may feel “festooned” by — using that slang the kids dig so much these days. But in the subtext of words, Republicans heard hints of the so-called “truce” former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels once called for, in favor of focusing on economic issues in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Daniels’ plea for a truce came before birth control suddenly became a presidential election issue and it seemed as if Republicans wanted to refight battles many thought were settled in the early 1960s.

Even though Rand Paul’s truce didn’t explicitly mention abortion, it sounds a lot like what CNN’s S.E. Cupp recently said:

We, of course, want to make abortion illegal. We can’t be afraid to talk about that, but I think politically right now it’s probably more beneficial for our candidates to say, ‘Look, I’m not going to Washington to overturn decades-old legislation. I’m going to fight to keep abortion safe and rare.’ That’s how we get pro-life candidates elected and in positions of power to actually do something about abortion, to roll it back.

Why would it be to Paul’s advantage to not talk about reproductive rights?

The senator is currently in the process of trying to sell the world on the idea that he can appeal to voters who have refused to consider the GOP in the past, by focusing on privacy and the NSA.

“So my goal in being here is to say that, ‘look, maybe I’m the Republican that can attract votes even at Berkeley,” he said, sitting in Philz Coffee after a recent speech at UC Berkeley.

Paul was speaking to a reporter from the Daily Caller, a publication that recently had to apologize for sexist comments from a reporter with an impressive history of being sexist.

LOL.

Republicans have tolerated much of Paul’s anti-national security state rhetoric because at the present time it’s conveniently anti-Obama. But the mere suggestion that he wants the GOP to chill on the “abortionyay” is just not cool, man.

John Hayward made a passionate argument against Paul’s perceived “unilateral disarmament” in the culture war in The Federalist, noting:

The unspoken premise behind expansions of the central State is that we cannot trust one another – we must be forced to provide the correct answers in a growing list of social questions.  As we accept more political control over every element of our lives, we are transformed by our rising comfort level with the proposition that wise and just central planners should dictate our attitudes, and dissent from their judgment is intolerable.

Double LOL. How can the government have more control of your life than when it directly polices your womb?

Paul seems to have the sense of how the right’s “anti-statist” rantings reek of hypocrisy when their stance on reproductive rights comes into play.

The GOP’s unrelenting stand against a woman’s right to choose invites a debate about how and when a women loses control over her own body. This is a debate science cannot settle, a debate that reveals that when Hobby Lobby wants to ban birth control coverage for its employees, it’s doing so by arguing that certain birth control methods cause abortion. So where do the restrictions on women’s rights end if the right wing gets its way?

Most Americans don’t want to find out.

Only about 20 percent of America agrees with Rand Paul’s stand that abortion should be illegal, even in the cases of rape and incest. But that’s not the reason this Tea Party hero won’t ever be president. That was the stand of George W. Bush and it’s what the GOP says in its platform, which doesn’t even make exceptions for cases where the life of the mother is threatened.

Paul won’t be president because he doesn’t think the cruel budgets of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cut enough. He would privatize Social Security and Medicare, raising the retirement ages for both. And Paul wouldn’t phase in this rapid revision of America’s social contract as Ryan proposed. Given his druthers, Rand Paul would end Social Security and Medicare as we know them — today.

“Fiscal conservatives might applaud Rand Paul when he talks about getting Afghan president Hamid Karzai off of welfare, but they’ll scream if he comes within five miles of their Social Security checks,” Politico Magazine‘s Kevin D. Williamson wrote in a new column entitled, “Ready for Rand? Americans hate Rand Paul’s libertarianism. They just don’t know it yet.”

Paul’s rhetoric about the NSA does have true resonance for young people, especially the young men who loved the drug legalization stance Paul’s father — former congressman Ron Paul — took in his two campaigns for president. (Don’t tell them that the senator recently supported a bill calling for the arrest of marijuana smokers in Colorado and Washington because he’ll even be against states’ rights if Obama is for them.)

“Your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault,” Paul said at UC Berkeley.

And for everyone in the audience with a cellphone, the NSA’s near limitless power to capture and keep data with minuscule oversight from a court made up entirely of judges appointed by John Roberts should provoke anxiety.

But for young women, the assault on their right to privacy isn’t theoretical.  It’s happening now. Nearly 90 percent of counties in the United States have no abortion provider. More restrictions on the right to choose have been passed in the last three years than in the decade before.

Paul doesn’t just support the right of a woman’s employer to deny her birth control coverage, he literally wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would allow states to immediately criminalize not just abortion, but likely some methods of birth control as well.

All the young dudes may like Paul’s lawsuit against the NSA — being led by anti-abortion extremist Ken Cuccinelli.

But a brief conversation with the females in their life may reveal that Rand Paul’s version of freedom would take the government out of their cellphones and put it in women’s wombs.

Photo: jbouie via Flickr

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Close