Rand Paul’s Fascinating Refusal to Say ‘No’

On Thursday, Ben Shapiro of Breitbart News reported that “one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.””

So far, neither Breitbart nor anyone else has produced evidence of the group. Outside of Shapiro, in fact, even conservatives don’t seem to believe the bombshell is the real McCoy. “Maybe it’s not true,” a GOP aide tells The National Review. “The ploy,” observes a disbelieving Joshua Treviño, “is to force release of documents to disprove.” I agree. The report, like most of what emanates from the Breitbart empire, is almost certainly bogus.

That in mind, I’m intrigued by Friday’s exchange between Hugh Hewitt (about whom I have written before) and Rand Paul.

Three times Hewitt asked Paul if, in the event the Breitbart report proved true, he would vote against Hagel for secretary of defense. Three times Paul refused to answer:

HH: …If that is in fact true, Senator, would that lead you to vote against Mr. Hagel?

RP: You know, I saw that information today, also, and that is more and more concerning. …

HH …Can you imagine voting or not filibustering anyone who’d received support from supporters of a terrorist organization?

RP: Like I say, it’s very troubling.

And finally:

HH: And so given that, I come back around to answering again, asking again, Senator Paul, I don’t know how Senator Hagel’s name can’t be withdrawn if he has received support from an organization, that’s a big if, but just assume that it is for a second, Shapiro a pretty good reporter, he’s got to pull his name. You can’t take money from a terrorist-supporting organization and come before the United States Senate and ask for a vote, can you?

RP: Yeah, I’m very troubled by it, and I think that’s what’s going to, we’re going to find out, is he’s going to have to respond to this.

I am amazed, and delighted, that Paul won’t say the words Hewitt so desperately wants to hear. There’s no downside to Paul saying “No,” I don’t think. Voting against a guy who has taken money from a terrorist organization would not be an unpopular position! And surely an interview with Hewitt is not a binding document and Paul could, if so chose, change his mind.

So: Does he know Breitbart‘s report is a blivet? This possibility is deeply amusing.