For several years now, those of us who've been following the political career of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have noticed that he's not the brave, principled destroyer of the left/right paradigm. Rather, he's a melange of several related ingredients:
1) A dash of Ron Paul's loopiness.
2) Stir in some states' rights nullificationism.
3) Toss with a tinfoil hat full of conspiracy theories.
3) And serve on a waffle-shaped bed of flip-floppery.
Fortunately for him, the general public and cable news haven't really noticed all four things blended together and dumped into a cartoon-sized bowl of crazy until this week.
The vaccination debate, which shouldn't be debate at all, has finally exposed to the public and press the true nature of Rand Paul's fringe extremism. If you're not a fan of Rand Paul, his year couldn't have started any worse, and as the Klieg lights grow brighter his status as a serious 2016 contender are fading away.
In the wake of President Obama's remarks in which he recommended parents vaccinate their children, Rand Paul announced that vaccinations are an "issue of freedom":
"I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," he said. "I think the parents should have some input. The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."
That right there is Ron Paul-meets-big-government-meets-conspiracy-theorist quackery. No, there isn't any medical evidence linking "mental disorders" to vaccines. All we need now is an awkward flip-flop and we've completed the Rand Paul Tetralogy.
And there it is. I'm sure the booster appointment was totally planned months in advance, rather than in response to the backlash. Right? Seen in the photo is, of course, a smiling Rand Paul being vaccinated, just as the reaction to his vaccination comments reached a high water mark this week.
Predictably enough, the stunt will likely fail because the next thing to emerge will be his long-time association with conspiracy theorist and sentient throat-polyp Alex Jones of InfoWars.com. Jones is ground zero (no pun intended) for every loony conspiracy and bug-eyed paranoiac in current circulation. Not only does Jones believe vaccinations are a government conspiracy to poison children, but he also believes the government is turning children gay by injecting an endocrine-blocking chemical into juice boxes; he believes there are shape-shifting lizard people walking among us; he believes 9/11 was an "inside job"; and he believes Obama has used "weather weapons" to manipulate tornadoes, crashing them into towns he doesn't like. And he's a huge supporter of Rand Paul.
Likewise, Rand Paul is a supporter of Alex Jones, having appeared on his show numerous times over the years. Rand Paul also endorses many of Jones' crazier conspiracy theories.
1) Martial Law. According to Media Matters, Rand Paul and Alex Jones agreed that the government might enforce mandatory vaccinations through declaring martial law.
2) The Bilderberg Conspiracy. In 2010, Rand Paul cited Alex Jones when asked about the Bilderberg conspiracy, answering that the Bilderberg Group is composed of "very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage. They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook."
3) 9/11 Truth. One of Rand Paul's staffers turned out to be a 9/11 Truther, arguably the worst of the worst. When confronted about the conspiracy theory, Rand Paul said there's "truth on both sides."
4) North American Union. Rand Paul, like his father, marketed in the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that the U.S., Canada and Mexico were going to form a single entity mirroring the European Union, and our currency would be replaced with the "Amero." In 2008, Rand Paul said, "It's not a conspiracy, they're out in the open about it. I guarantee it's one of their long-term goals—to have one sort of borderless mass continent."
In the coming months, I suspect there will be more than a few reporters cross-referencing Rand Paul and Alex Jones, and unless there's a significant shift within the GOP from mainstream non-scandal scandals like Benghazi and the IRS toward full-speed-ahead Alex Jones insanity, Rand Paul's going to have a really difficult time explaining away his kookier ideas.
UPDATE: On his show yesterday, Alex Jones defended Rand Paul.
Rand Paul doesn't need Alex Jones' help.