Yesterday I linked to the video of the Courier Journal's editorial board interviews with the four candidates for US Senate. This comment concerns the republicans.
As I have said many times, I have tried to limit the focus of my observations to the campaigns, not the individuals. However this set of interviews reveals more about the candidates than their campaigns. They had no handlers, their message was unedited, this was not a commercial or a prepared speech. As such this comment will focus on the impression one gets from the interviews of the men themselves.
Ardent supporters will see what they want in each interview and have plenty of ammunition to spin for their guy and against the other. But I have a one word summary of my comment on each.
Rand Paul: Senatorial
Trey Grayson: Student Council
Trey's appreciation for the complexities of the issues appeared very shallow. His answers resembled talking points, buzz words and more than one example of vacillating. As some comments to the earlier post point out, his desire for the endorsement was patent and his willingness to be moved off of his message by the press bordered on pandering.
If his goal was to play the part of a cavalier school boy he performed adequately, but his immaturity, lack of personal resolve and his air of entitlement were unavoidably obvious and did little to inspire confidence that Trey is the right man, at this time, to provide the kind of leadership Kentucky, and America, need to deal effectively with our staggering financial condition.
And though he would like to claim that he is the kind of republican who believes in peace through strength, he appeared weak, boyish and as if he was merely reciting words he'd heard before spoken by someone else. He was unconvincing.
For some reason the board pressed him hard on "don't ask, don't tell", gay marriage and discrimination based upon sexual preference. Again he spoke the words of a social conservative but his trailing answers left the impression that he was doing his best to avoid a more meaningful discussion of the topics for the sake of what he perceived to be "conservative correctness".
Compared to either democrat, Trey should win. Compared to Rand Paul's performance, Trey didn't come close.
Perhaps the first and the most lasting impression one gets from Paul's interview is that he is neither strange, nor kooky nor deserving of any further disparagement of similar sort. He appears as a very serious mature individual who thinks logically, feels passionately and articulates clearly his true beliefs. These are all things which inspire trust and an interest in hearing more.
His response to questions and follow ups demonstrated a clear command of the issues, perhaps even greater understanding of the details than those asking. His performance reassured that his self declared philosophy as a that of a "constitutional conservative" was not merely a label. Rand Paul revealed over the course of an hour that his deep commitment to our republican form of government was grounded on principle, constructed from logic and as he cited to several sources for his opinions, he demonstrated that his philosophy was the one which had thus far stood the test of time.
It was obvious that he had thought deeply about the problems facing our nation and that his solutions were real, not mere platitudes, as he recognized the limitations he would face in Washington DC against the entrenched machine. But he was not discouraged, nor likely to give in as he talked about how even though he might not be able to accomplish the biggest goals in a short time, that he felt confident he could build a coalition to get votes on some smaller goals all working toward the same end to an ever expanding, financially failing, government.
And while the board seemed interested in pursuing a few of his views which might have been characterized before the interview as "libertarian", hearing Paul explain them made it very clear that his message is a populist one, well within the mainstream thinking of a large majority of everyday republicans, and democrats.
I've met Rand Paul and quite frankly this interview revealed more smiles, more humor and more confidence than I have seen before. So far in the campaign he has been a very serious man running for office in a culture that has come to expect a certain kind of "politickin". Against that backdrop of history he did not fit the mold. But now that both men have been interviewed for all voters to see it is quite clear that Paul has a personality voters can warm up to but he places much more emphasis on principled performance in office than the politics of personal achievement.
The Interviews are a must watch for all concerned voters. The Courier Journal Board should be congratulated for doing this service and for the quality of the questions and the video record.
If you have not watched the interviews, please do so. And please feel free to comment here about your impressions. I am certain that sharing our views freely will be of great assistance to our Commonwealth and our nation as we move closer to the primary elections on May 18th.
Here is the link to the videos again for your convenience: CLICK HERE