Perhaps the terms mudslinging and hysteria are too strong, but not after some of what I’ve seen on facebook and in comment sections since part of Rand Paul’s interview from the National Convention Center was made public. There’s been a little bit of upset on the part of some of his supporters, and a lot of gleeful salivating from the mouths of his detractors in social conservative wing of the GOP who support other candidates. It’s all because of about five minutes, if that, of his comments to Philadelphia radio talk show host Dom Giordano.
It’s all in relation to this article, and the comments it generated out there on the internet. The article quotes Senator Paul at length, and it quotes him accurately. I was there (third row– fat lady with the pink and brown hair), and I’ve listened to the interview a few times in order to pull quotes from it myself. That accuracy belies the responses that have occurred out in the Magical Cyber Kingdom, where opponents have seized it like a cudgel to beat Paul supporters over the head.
The response of some socially conservative Paul opponents out there is to post it everywhere and crow, “See, he’s not dedicated to life. He’s a flip flopper. He’s not socially conservative at all. He’s a phony.” I happened to have a few people like this as facebook friends (the few who didn’t unfriend me after I came out in support of Senator Paul). They don’t address these comments to me per se, but tag other people who they suspect of being “Paulbots”. Same is true in the comment sections of the big conservative sites– people were bringing it up and bashing Paul supporters over the head with the fact that their candidate doesn’t care about abortion.
Sadly, I’m seeing Paul supporters falling for it. Some are panicking, “how can this be true?”. Some are reposting it in the Rand Paul groups with dire warnings about how “this will cost him the election”, that this is a horrible thing if it’s true, and they won’t support him. Yeah, okay. Back up some guys. (I’m really, really tired of saying that– in fact I’m only writing about it now because it’s being posted all over my facebook wall AGAIN this weekend.)
What he said– and the quotes are in the actual article that everyone’s linking to (this is what happens when people read a poster’s commentary above the link, then just read the headline, but never read the article– reading is fundamental, friends) are nothing he hasn’t said before. He restates some of what he said in his brilliant, discourse disrupting news conference in New Hampshire back in April (one of the first things I wrote here about I liked it so much)- about one pound premature babies having a full set of rights, but under the law a seven pound baby just before birth doesn’t. He said he supports life, and all the argument about the minutiae of it (my words, not his) is pointless. What has to be decided is when life begins, and then we talk from there.
Aha– the conservative detractors say– he’s talking about five month old babies. See, it’s in the quote. Twenty something weeks… More panic ensues, “What about the little eight week old whose heart is beating, what about…” And the frightened Paul supporter reveals a very good grasp of fetal development when they engage in the litany of how far back a pre-born baby feels pain, has a heart beat, finger prints, a brain stem, etc, etc. The detractor says, “You’re right. But he says we have to debate when life begins.”
Well, no. Rand Paul has told the world when he believes life begins, at conception. It’s right there on his website under “Advocating for the Sanctity of Life”.
I am 100% pro-life. I believe life begins at conception and that abortion takes the life of an innocent human being. It is the duty of our government to protect this life as a right guaranteed under the Constitution. For this reason, I introduced S. 583, the Life at Conception Act on March 14, 2013. This bill would extend the Constitutional protection of life to the unborn from the time of conception.
But all that said, it doesn’t end the discussion, because the detractors just barrel on “he doesn’t mean it”, “it’s just a way to get votes”. Sort of like they’re saying about Senator Paul’s votes in opposition to TPP and TPA. At this point, I’m ready to smash my head through my front window, and so usually withdraw, hoping I’ve talked a few wavering supporters back off the ledge.
But no, relax. He really is pro-life. Just because that wasn’t the motivating factor for his entry into national politics doesn’t make him less of a warrior for that cause. This issue is of fundamental importance to me, because it’s the one that really started moving me from my previous Gramscian Leftist- Gender Feminist views to where I am now. The fact that my views on life weren’t acceptable to my academic and ideological comrades and my friends really set me thinking. And I’m still thinking. While I’m not a one issue candidate, it would be hard for me to vote for a candidate who wasn’t pro-life even if I agreed with much of the rest of their platform. Really hard. After reading all that I’ve read about Senator Paul’s views on the issue, hearing him speak about it, have to say, I’d have no problem pushing the button for him in the voting booth.