One of the more persistent troubles with the field of Republican presidential candidates is that candidates love sharing made-up quotes from historical figures. Ben Carson, for example, is a repeat offender.
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tends to be in a league of his own, relying with great frequency on historical quotes that are “fake, misquoted, or taken entirely out of context.”
Yesterday, BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski and Megan Apper went so far as to send Rand Paul a letter, documenting multiple instances in which the Kentucky Republican falsely attributed quotes – in print and in speeches – to Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. The journalists’ letter pleaded with the senator, “Stop using fake Founding Fathers quotes.”
And while all of this is interesting on its face, the amazing part was Rand Paul’s response to the story. The senator talked to the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel yesterday afternoon, and took aim at the journalist who helped highlight Paul’s dishonesty.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), hit back at Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski Tuesday after the meticulous reporter challenged the veracity of quotes used in Paul’s newest book. […]“That guy,” Paul said dismissively, referring to Kaczynski. “The only criticisms have come from some guy who’s a partisan. We discount partisans.”
Paul added that the journalist who helped document the senator’s falsehoods is an “idiot.”
It’s hard to image a worse response.
Look, no one likes getting caught doing something wrong, but Rand Paul, on the heels of his plagiarism controversy in which he repeatedly presented others’ work as his own, has peddled historical quotes that are made-up. He used those quotes to make specific, substantive points about society and public policy, all of which rested on a foundation of nonsense.
Once his falsehoods were exposed, Paul had some choices. He could blame his staff. He could express some regret. He could promise to make amends. He could try desperately to change the subject.
But Rand Paul, unable to accept responsibility, is instead lashing out at those who, to his great inconvenience, are pointing at reality. He did the exact same thing after his plagiarism controversies.
It’s unbecoming of anyone, but for a presidential candidate to act this way is just bizarre.
Postscript: It’s hardly the most important detail, but if Rand Paul is going to dismiss BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski as a “partisan,” it’s worth noting that Kaczynski’s career got started with an internship at the Republican National Committee.
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GOP candidates stumble badly on fake historical quotes