So, I get this phone call yesterday from Jack Conway…
Of course, it wasn’t the actual Jack Conway. In fact, I’m not even sure if it was a recording of Jack Conway. The voice sounded like Jack Conway. Whoever it was, they began their (recorded) message by saying, “I’d like to talk to you about Rand Paul.” I thought for a second it might be a message from the Rand Paul campaign (which, I have to say at this point, I wouldn’t have been real thrilled about hearing from either). That notion was squashed pretty quickly, though, as the voice began to tell me how Rand Paul used to belong to a group that mocked Christians and their beliefs.
It was at this point that I said, out loud, “Oh, shut up!” and hung up the phone.
It didn’t really surprise me that I had that kind of reaction to the message. Recorded political messages are pretty much the norm in election years, and I tend to have that kind of response to most of them. What did sort of catch my attention, though, was that I realized as soon as I set the phone down, I really, really wished that was the actual Jack Conway on the other end so I could have told to him personally shut up.
Even as Jon Stewart pleaded for a restoration of “sanity” (whatever that means) today with the nation’s capitol as a backdrop, the only word that keeps coming to my mind during this election year is anger. Challengers are angry at incumbents; incumbents are angry at their challengers; and voters are angry with all of them. I, for example, don’t make a habit of telling people to shut up before hanging up on them, but I sure wouldn’t have hesitated yesterday.
I mean, let’s set aside for a moment that it’s harder today than ever before to figure out exactly what a candidate believes before you vote for them (I’ll come back to that later…). Did you ever honestly think the words “Aqua Buddha” would ever have any relevance in a political campaign? Or that a candidate would have to run an ad using the phrase “I am not a witch” in it? Or that the wife on the president of a professional wrestling organization would actually look like the sane choice?
In the case of Rand Paul and Jack Conway, the whole religious aspect that’s been brought into this campaign is ludicrous. And it’s ludicrous because they’re both acting like idiots. Let’s just say Rand Paul did actually belong to a group that mocked Christian’s religious beliefs, used the name “Aqua Buddha” for himself, and actually did partake in kidnapping somebody as a prank, all while attending college. Were I Rand Paul (and, thank God, I’m not), I could’ve delivered the line of the political season when this came up in debates with Conway: “Dude, what were you doing when you were in college?”
I’m totally serious, though. Here Paul has a great chance to talk about how Jesus Christ got hold him between those days and now and how his morals, beliefs, and actions that he displays now are a direct result of that encounter. It could have been a powerful testimony, one that frat boys anyone who ever did anything dumb in their lives that they regretted (And who hasn’t?) could see themselves in. You want to display your Christianity, you should show people why they need a savior in the first place.
Of course, that’s not what happened. Paul not only staunchly denied all the claims, but he went into a fairly ridiculous “Have you no shame?” rant of his own when Conway brought them up during a debate. I really expected him to whip out the Keith Olberman-via-Ben Affleck “How dare you, sir! How dare you!” before it was over. That, at least, would have been entertaining.
It’s just frustrating to me as a voter when the candidate won’t own up to anything. For all I know, Rand Paul never did any of that stuff, but he sure has spent more time running down Conway for bringing it up than he has providing any evidence he’s innocent. And name me one ad you’ve seen going into the home stretch where a candidate has actually talked about what they are going to do. Everything’s about what the other person has or hasn’t done. This struck me a few years when a candidate accused another of several illegal activities. That candidate’s response? A smear ad directed back at the other candidate. The didn’t even try to refute the claims; they just picked up some mud and threw it in the other direction.
As a newspaper reporter, I used to have to go the Fancy Farm picnic every year, and I honestly can’t think of many events I would rather not ever go to again more. If you ever want to see the ugly side of politics – well, actually, just the ugly side of humanity in general – head on down to Fancy Farm in August. You can sit there for hours and not hear anybody forward a specific idea from the podium. What you can hear is a lot of grown men and women ridiculing each other. Props, though, go out to Sun Drop soda fountains, but I digress…
I don’t want candidates who tell me they are good, wholesome Christian men and women; I want a candidate who shows me their integrity through their policies, through the diplomacy they exhibit, through the convictions (Well, convictions is probably not the best word to use when referring to politicians these days…) they stand by.
So, Rand Paul, if you were the Aqua Buddha, stand up and admit it with pride, man! And if you’re Jack Conway (or a reasonable facsimile of his voice), don’t call my house any more.