At least some politics is local

AT LEAST SOME POLITICS IS LOCAL…. Last month, Details ran an interview with Rand Paul, the extremist Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, which generated some attention. In particular, Paul lauded mountain-top removal as a great idea that just needs a little rebranding.

But in the same interview, Paul said something else of interest. The reporter asked about the significance of Harlan County, Kentucky. “I don’t know,” the candidate replied. Noting that the town of Hazard is nearby, Paul added, “It’s famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard.” When an aide tries to steer him towards the truth — Harlan County was home to generations of deadly labor disputes — Paul ignores him, and says, “Maybe the feuding.”

It was a reminder that Rand Paul wants to go Washington to represent Kentucky, but as the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Larry Dale Keeling noted the other day, Paul “seems to know dangerously little” about the state.

People who “live” somewhere for 17 years will pick up a little knowledge through osmosis even if they don’t bother to get out and learn about their surroundings. A person who merely “resides” somewhere is more like the little knickknack that “resides” in the bric-a-brac case hanging on the wall.

A person who has “lived” in Kentucky for 17 years might know how “Bloody Harlan” got its name and that The Dukes of Hazzard was set in the fictional Hazzard (two Z’s) County, Georgia, not the Kentucky city of Hazard (one Z).

A person who has “lived” in Kentucky for 17 years might know the community of Fancy Farm is in a dry county and the picnic put on annually by the old folks of St. Jerome Parish is a family affair where no one has to worry about having beer or anything else thrown at them.

Those are just a few items someone who has lived here for several years might know. But there are some things a person who has lived in this state for any amount of time can’t help but know.

Adding insult to injury, Paul has also said Eastern Kentucky’s drug problem is not “a real pressing issue,” despite the fact that it’s been ravaged by an epidemic. Keeling explained, “Only someone who is totally clueless would say that, or suggest that Eastern Kentucky’s drug epidemic can be cured at the local level without any federal help.” (The columnist added that Paul may have been paying a little too much “homage to Aqua Buddha.”)

It’s worth emphasizing that people run for office in adopted-home states all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. George W. Bush was a popular Texas governor, despite having been born in Connecticut. Howard Dean was a popular Vermont governor, despite being from New York. Rand Paul is capable of serving Kentucky after having moved there as an adult.

But it’s awfully unusual for a novice to run for the United States Senate, despite never having served in government at any level, and neglect to read up on the state he hopes to represent.