RAND PAUL TALKS THROUGH, NOT TO, THE PRESS…. After facing some pretty intense scrutiny of his radical political beliefs, Republican Senate hopeful Rand Paul of Kentucky announced he wouldn’t speak to the national media anymore. The decision made sense — every time the right-wing ophthalmologist gave another interview, he looked slightly worse.

But Paul is nevertheless the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky this year, which means he still has to get his message out. Over the weekend, he had an op-ed in his hometown paper, the Bowling Green Daily News, complaining that his reputation has been “sullied.” (via ThinkProgress)

I am unlike many folks who run for office. I am an idealist. When I read history I side with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas* who fought for 30 years to end slavery and to integrate public transportation in the free North in the 1840s. I see our failure to end slavery for decade after decade as a failure of weak-kneed politicians.

I cheer the abolitionist Lysander Spooner, who argued that slavery was unconstitutional 20 years before the Civil War. I cheer Lerone Bennet** when he argues that the right of habeas corpus guaranteed in the Constitution should have derailed slavery long before the Civil War.

Only when the brave idealists, the abolitionists, finally provoked the weak-kneed politicians into action, did the emancipation proclamation come about. Our body politic has enough pragmatists, we need a few idealists.

Segregation ended only after a great and momentous uprising by idealists like Martin Luther King Jr., who provoked weak-kneed politicians to action.

In 2010, there are battles that need to be fought, and they have nothing to do with race or discrimination, but rather the rights of people to be free from a nanny state.

Oh, I see. Confused right-wing activist Rand Paul is similar to MLK and Frederick Douglass, except Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, because private segregation is preferable to government intervention. Paul may not realize this, but arrogance, extremism, and ignorance are not generally positive qualities in a Senate candidate.

In the op-ed, Paul also insists that he “never stated” his opposition to the Civil Rights Act, adding, “I believe the Civil Rights Act was necessary, and that I would have voted for it.” The willful deception here is pretty blatant given his unambiguous record of public remarks.

The same column defends cigarette smoking in restaurants, and repeats an already-debunked claim about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

No wonder Paul is avoiding journalists — they ask questions he can’t, or doesn’t want to, answer. I don’t necessarily blame him for hiding, but time will tell whether voters hold it against him.

* Update: It’s Frederick Douglass, not Douglas. Rand Paul apparently spelled one of his heroes’ names wrong.

** Second Update: It’s Lerone Bennett, not Bennet. Rand Paul apparently spelled two of his heroes’ names wrong.

When Paul says, “When I read history….” he’s apparently not paying too close attention to the details. A friend of mine joked, “Was the Texas school board editing his reference books?”

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.