The secret memo that only Rand Paul understands

The secret memo that only Rand Paul understands
The secret memo that only Rand Paul understands
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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seems to have an unusual fondness for conspiracy theories. Paul believes, for example, that the administration is conspiring with the United Nations to “confiscate and destroy all ‘unauthorized’ civilian firearms.” He believes there was a secret gun-running scheme that shipped weapons from Libya to Turkey. He fears gun-toting meteorologists and is convinced the Obama administration is responsible for problems with his toilet.

And when it comes to the IRS’s scrutiny of groups applying for tax-exempt status, Paul believes there are secret memos that exist in his imagination that point to a conspiracy that only he understands. [Updated: see below]

While the Internal Revenue Service maintains it was not focusing on conservative groups out of political bias, Sen. Rand Paul claimed Sunday there was a “written policy” floating around the agency that said IRS officials were “targeting people who were opposed to the president.”

“And when that comes forward, we need to know who wrote the policy and who approved the policy,” the Republican senator from Kentucky said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Pressed for more precise details about the memo he was referring to, Paul said he hasn’t seen such a policy statement but has heard about it.

Oh, well in that case, we should certainly take this seriously. Rand Paul has heard about a document that doesn’t appear to exist? We might as well draw up articles of impeachment now.

All joking aside, Paul told a national television audience that he “keeps hearing” about the secret memo that’s been “reported orally.”

It’s possible electing a self-accredited ophthalmologist to the U.S. Senate wasn’t the smartest thing Kentucky ever did.

It’s troubling enough when Paul shares wacky thoughts with fringe figures like Alex Jones and the folks at World Net Daily, but it’s more problematic when a major news organization gives Paul a national platform and he says ridiculous things to the public. What’s more, many news consumers may have tuned in and assumed Paul’s nuttiness has merit – after all, he’s a U.S. senator. If he says he’s heard about a secret memo, maybe Americans should take this seriously.

Except, of course, there is no secret memo; the information hasn’t been “reported orally”; and taking Rand Paul’s wacky theories seriously is generally a very bad idea.

Update: Dave Weigel defends Paul on this, suggesting the senator may have been referring to page 6 of the IG report, which said the Determinations Unit for the tax-exempt office “began developing a spreadsheet that would become known as the ‘Be On the Look Out’ listing,” which included by way of a criteria political groups that were critical of the president.

It’s certainly possible that’s what Paul was referring to, though I’m not sure how the “reported orally” response ties into this.