Maddow: Rand Paul and other whack-job conservatives eroding U.S. standing in the world

By David Ferguson
Saturday, February 2, 2013 11:28 EDT
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Maddow on US standing
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Friday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed how the clownish antics of conservatives on Capitol Hill are beginning to affect the standing of the U.S. in the world. She touched on recent conspiracy theories from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about the raid on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, as well as a newer right-wing canard that former President Ronald Reagan’s childhood home is going to be torn down to make way for a parking lot that will serve the Obama Presidential Library.

Maddow began the segment by discussing how, four years ago, newly appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reported for duty to raucous cheers from a gathered crowd. As cameras beamed the moment around the world in real time, Clinton accepted the job in what was assuredly not the normal reaction to a Cabinet secretary reporting for work, but, Maddow said, “but Hillary Clinton was never just some cabinet secretary, right?”

Clinton, Maddow said, is wholly unlike any figure in U.S. history. The lawyer turned Arkansas first lady turned U.S. First Lady turned New York Senator who went on to mount a nearly successful run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 has blazed a trail across the political landscape that is uniquely her own.

At her farewell speech as Secretary of State, Clinton said, “I am so grateful that we have had a chance to contribute in each of our ways to making our country and our world stronger, safer, fairer and better.”

She emphasized that diplomacy and development should be as important in our nation’s foreign policy as defense, which Maddow agreed with and said that it’s important to increase our diplomatic and other forms of outreach to other countries so that, in the long run,  the U.S. has a greater array of choices than just the use of force.

And while the Obama administration has made great strides toward that goal, Clinton and others at the State Department see this as an unfinished goal.

In Turkey on Friday, a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. embassy. Egypt is currently still roiling from the uprisings that began on Tahrir Square nearly two years ago. Syria, meanwhile, is threatening to launch attacks against Israel, even as Vice President Joe Biden has traveled to Europe to address global measures to bring the conflict in that country to an end.

“And if that’s not enough to have on our plate,” said Maddow, “we have a U.S. Navy ship stuck on a World Heritage Site coral reef in our ally the Philippines. Oh, and by the way, North Korea is gearing up for what may be another nuclear test, and they say that we are the reason that they’re doing it.”

Secretary of State, said Maddow, is a hard job. And when Clinton did an interview with the Associated Press this week, she was vocal about her disappointment with conservatives who seized upon the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as a way to score political points.

“There are some people in politics and in the press who can’t be confused by the facts,” she told the AP. “They just will not live in an evidence-based world. And that’s regrettable. It’s regrettable for our political system and for the people who serve our government in very dangerous, difficult circumstances.”

One of those people is freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN), who has cooked up an elaborate conspiracy theory that the Obama administration has been smuggling weapons out of Libya and into Turkey, which, for some reason, necessitated the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Paul did an interview with World Net Daily elucidating his theory and saying that, while he has no proof, he is confident that he knows the truth.

Men like Paul and other mainstream Republicans who now truck in conspiracy theories and far-right rumors are damaging our country’s credibility, Maddow said.

“Governing the United States is a really hard job,” she continued. “Representing the United States in the world is a really, really hard job.” Newly sworn in Secretary of State John Kerry got a warning from his outgoing predecessor that amounted to, “The evidence-based world is a really hard place to live and to operate for us as a nation without half of our domestic politics being dominated by the perceived desire to defend against the Muslim Obama jihad on child Reagan’s home,” she said, referring to a recent Drudge-fed conspiracy theory that has turned out to be patently false.

How are we to address problems in the real, evidence-based world, she asked, if half the people in politics refuse to live in that world?

Watch the clip, embedded via MSBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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