I had no intention of returning to the subject of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) on-again/off-again concerns about voter-ID laws, but the Kentucky Republican’s position keeps changing – and if I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound.
To briefly recap, Paul told a largely African-American audience in Memphis late last week that it’s “wrong for Republicans to go too crazy” on voter-ID laws. When the right murmured some disapproval, Paul backed off a bit, saying he never actually “come out against voter-ID laws.”
Then Fox News got involved. By midday yesterday, the Kentucky Republican had abandoned altogether the position that had won him progressive praise.
Tuesday, Paul spoke with Sean Hannity, and abandoned his deviation completely. Paul assured Hannity he fully agrees with the Republican vote suppression strategy on substance, and that his only argument is that Republicans should “emphasize” other issues without changing their policies:“No I agree, there’s nothing wrong with it. To see Eric Holder you’ve got to show your driver’s license to get in the building. So I don’t really object to having some rules for how we vote. I show my driver’s license every time I vote in Kentucky … and I don’t feel like it is a great burden. So it’s funny that it got reported that way.”
Last night, the senator appeared on Fox News’ “On The Record with Greta Van Susteren,” and went even further.
“I am very aware of voter fraud, and I think it’s not that unreasonable to show your driver’s license, but I’m also aware that some people find it – that they think it’s nefarious that Republicans are doing this to suppress the African-American vote. […]“It’s not an unreasonable thing to ask to show your identification…. We shouldn’t be tone deaf about this. And that’s what I’m saying, is don’t be tone deaf, but I’m also not saying, it’s not unreasonable idea.”
For the record, voter fraud generally exists only in the imaginations of those who support voter-suppression tactics.
So for those following along at home, Paul started with a sensible comment intended to show an African-American audience that he’s a different kind of Republican. Then he backed off a little. Then he backed off a lot, endorsing Republican orthodoxy on Fox News.
Voting-rights advocates who applauded the senator probably should have waited for him to change his mind.