Rand Paul has been experimenting with his bi-cultural side a little bit lately. He’s been going both ways in the culture wars. In addition to his recent waffling on his position on a federal marriage amendment, news came earlier today that instead of attending the ultra-extreme, anti-gay Family Leadership Conference in Iowa last weekend, he was at a fancy party in the Hamptons attended by celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.
Paul did, however, write a check to help sponsor the conference in Iowa, but that wasn’t enough to please the anti-gay crowd there. (As usual, there’s never enough to make them happy.) The head of The Family Leader, Paul Vander Plaats, said Paul’s actions sent a message to the group, and he also called out Paul for lying to the group by telling them that he couldn’t attend the conference because of a family commitment. –
“From my perspective, there are always choices to be made of where do you want to be and what message do you want to send,” Vander Plaats said. “If you want to be at a fundraiser in the Hamptons with the rich and famous, you probably ought to tell people you want to be at a fundraiser in the Hamptons with the rich and famous.”
It’s important to note that The Family Leader exists almost exclusively to oppose homosexuality and demonize gay people. They claim to support other issues, but their history is almost entirely anti-gay. They are waaaaaaay outside of the mainstream in their views about gay people….and the other stuff too.
Sen. Paul was trying to have it both ways by sponsoring the conference, but not going as far as attending and speaking at it. He knows that that element of the electorate plays an important role in the GOP presidential caucuses in Iowa. They turn out to those caucuses in numbers disproportionate to their numbers in the general electorate. He thought his check would mean that he could get away with skipping the event without losing their support, but the Hamptons story gained him no friends among the anti-gay crowd in Iowa.
The truth is, money is an important ingredient in politics, and donors like the Hamptons in August. It’s a bit ironic that Paul blew off the anti-gay conference that he sponsored to hob knob with the elite and court donors in the Hamptons, because potential New York donors are repulsed by anti-gay activism. (I wonder what those New York donors would think of their contributions going to fund The Family Leader via Rand Paul.)
Paul’s trip to New York to court donors and his check to the Iowa anti-gay group are both politically understandable, but let’s face it, he’s totally trying to play on both sides of the culture wars. It’s the winning side and the losing side, by the way.
Of course, this cultural two-step is just more of Rand Paul dancing the footsteps of his father. Rand and Ron Paul have made their names as (pretend) libertarians. They preach limited-government on many issues, but they both have always pandered to the fringe right on cultural issues.
Perennial candidate Ron Paul pandered to the Family Leader organization in Iowa during his multiple runs for president, including hiring consultants and staff from their ranks. Now that his son is taking over the family business of running for president, he’s taking pages from the family playbook. We’ll see if the strategy that failed for his father’s multiple runs with work for Rand’s.
So far, he’s just managing to piss off everyone.
***UPDATE*** – Fresh off of beating his anti-gay drum (with his father) at The Family Leader conference last weekend, US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is begging for money in the Hamptons this week too! I hope someone in New York will tell him to take a hike and that he should ask the anti-gay activists in Iowa to fund his political career.