Senator Tinfoil

As we anticipate Rand Paul’s almost certain 2016 presidential candidacy, and an effort to modify or sanitize an awful lot of peculiar positions taken by the Old Man (and implicitly by Rand himself, as the Revolution’s chief strategist) over the years, it’s good to look at some common wingnut memes and see how he’s come down. David Corn does so at MoJo today, and finds some weird ideas Sen. Paul embraced very recently but has grown cadgier about now that he’s found political success:

In 2010, before winning his Senate seat, Paul sat for an interview with Luke Rudkowski, a libertarian YouTube personality who specializes in quizzing political leaders about the plot to establish a “one-world socialist government.” Rudkowski asked what Paul knew of the Bilderberg Group, a collection of government and business leaders whose annual conference is a favorite target of conspiracy-mongers. Paul replied, “Only what I’ve learned from Alex Jones.” That’s right: Alex Jones, the radio host who claims that Bilderberg is a key part of a global plot to create a “scientific dictatorship” that will exterminate the “useless eaters,” a.k.a. 80 percent of the human population.

Paul described the group to Rudkowski in unequivocally Jonesian terms, as “very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage. They want to make it out like world government will be good for humanity. But guess what? World government is good for their pocketbook.” The previous year, Paul had appeared on Jones’ radio show, noting that he had watched his host’s videos and expressing support for the effort to “expose people who are promoting this globalist agenda.” (In turn, Jones urged his listeners to send money to Paul’s Senate campaign.)

It wasn’t until after reaching the Senate in 2011 that Paul clammed up about the Bilderbergers. In 2012, Rudkowski confronted Paul on a Washington street, challenging his endorsement of Mitt Romney, who’d attended Bilderberg sessions. The senator walked on as an aide tried to shoo Rudkowski away.

Interesting, eh?

Corn’s column led me to a quick Google search to see if Paul had similarly embraced the Agenda 21 meme, the amazingly popular John Birch Society fantasy (one that Joni Ernst has waxed enthusiastic about) wherein land-use regulations like zoning and bike paths are part of a UN conspiracy to destroy private property rights.

I couldn’t find Paul discussing Agenda 21, but did discover he’s introduced a bill in the Senate that’s being touted by all the Agenda 21 freaks as the beginning of The Answer to the godless plot to outlaw strip malls and golf courses. It looks like a really bad bill focused on restricting the scope of the Clean Water Act. But you can’t tell from the text if he was wearing a tinfoil hat when he introduced it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.