Rand Paul’s victory in the Kentucky Republican primary is obviously a depressing event for those who support strong national defense and rational conservative politics. In another year, such a victory would be a prelude to a Republican defeat in the general election. This year however the tide is running so strongly with the GOP that … well … that Rand Paul may benefit from the political rule so well described by Brooklyn ward heeler Hymie Shorenstein back in 1940:
Did you ever go down to the wharf to see the Staten Island Ferry come in? You ever watch it, and look down in the water at all those chewing-gum wrappers, and the banana peels and the garbage? When the ferryboat comes into the wharf, automatically it pulls all the garbage in too.
Paul will not have an easy ride. Paul offers a target-rich environment for negative advertising. On the other hand, Paul does lead his (likely) Democratic opponent, Jack Conway. It could be his year.
Which raises this question:
How is it that the GOP has lost its antibodies against a candidate like Rand Paul? In the past few months, we have seen GOP conservatives rally against Utah Sen. Bob Bennett. There has been no similar rallying against Rand Paul: no ads by well-funded out-of-state groups. Some senior Republicans, like former VP Dick Cheney, indicated a preference for opponent Trey Grayson. But despite Paul’s self-presentation as “anti-establishment,” the D.C. conservative establishment by and large made its peace with him. It is this acquiescence – even more than Paul’s own nomination – that is the most ominous news from tonight’s vote.