MAYBE THE AQUA BUDDHA OFFERS LEGAL ADVICE…. In the course of a high-profile, statewide political campaign, “don’t get mad; get litigious” is rarely a sound strategy. Someone might want to let Rand Paul know.
As we talked about yesterday, GQ published a profile of the extremist Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, including an anecdote in which Paul, during his college years at Baylor, paid a visit to the home of a female student Paul knew from the swim team. He and a friend, apparently high, kidnapped the woman and tried to force her to take bong hits. When she refused, they drove her to a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’”
Initially, the Paul campaign issued a non-denial denial. Campaign manager Jesse Benton said, “National Enquirer-type stories about Dr. Paul’s teenage years should be left to the tabloids where they belong.” That’s fine, I suppose, but the response never quite got around to saying the story isn’t true.
Late yesterday, Benton went a little further, telling Dave Weigel:
We are investigating all our options — including legal ones. We will not tolerate drive-by journalism by a writer with a leftist agenda.
For those keeping score, that’s two responses, neither of which refutes the substance of the story.
It’s worth noting that the reporter who wrote the GQ piece, Jason Zengerle, hardly has a reputation as some wild-eyed polemicist, and wouldn’t be considered “a writer with a leftist agenda” by those familiar with his work. Indeed, GQ‘s Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson said in a statement: “We’ve vetted, researched, and exhaustively fact-checked Jason Zengerle’s reporting on Rand Paul’s college days, we stand by the story, and we gave the Paul campaign every opportunity to refute it. We notice that they have not, in fact, refuted it.”
All things being equal, Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act matters more than some bizarre ritual he engaged in several years ago. But this is the kind of story that makes Rand Paul look like a pretty strange guy, and so far, his campaign isn’t exactly handling it well.