On Tuesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) announced that he is running for 2016 Republican nomination, placing him alongside Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and two old white men you’ve never heard of in the ranks of People Who Will Never Be President.
But, a future as just about anything other than president of the United States is not the only thing Sens. Paul and Cruz have in common. They both have fathers who are completely bonkers and who could significantly impact each man’s campaign.
Let’s begin with the more well-known of these two kooks, long-running Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R), who has courted the far-right fringe for a generation, touting his outsider status and a watered-down version of faux-Libertarianism that never fails to make a certain young, lawyer-ish species of free market-worshipping American male pitch a tent in his Dockers.
Weed legalization? Sure thing! Less intervention in foreign wars? Who doesn’t want that? Over time, the elder Paul has made some sensible points here and there. There are questions about the Federal Reserve. We do spend too much money on foreign wars.
However, both Pauls, as humorist Charles Pierce has noted, adhere to the so-called Five Minute Rule. Here, we’ll let him explain it.
“Regular readers here are familiar with the blog’s Five Minute Rule regarding any member of the Paul family and their most fervent acolytes,” wrote Pierce in 2013. If you listen to the Pauls talk “or their disciples for five minutes, you find yourself nodding in agreement with almost everything they say. At precisely the 5:01 mark, however, the person to whom you’re listening will say something that detaches the entire conversation from the plane of physical reality and sends it sailing off into the ether.”
It was Ron Paul who established the family’s relationship to spittle-flecked conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, purveyor of a special brand of Texas-fried brain pollution that includes wild tales about chemtrails, “weather weapons,” UFOs, the New World Order and other apocalyptic agitprop.
What gives the lie to the Pauls’ dreamy vision of legal weed (maaaaaan) and laissez-faire free market idealism, however, is their staunch opposition to women’s freedom to choose with regards to their reproductive health.
You get a real sense of the woman-hating crazy at work in Old Man Paul’s head when he talks about abortion and rape like he did in 2012.
Abortion can be justified in cases of rape, Paul Sr. told Piers Morgan, but only if it’s an “honest rape.”
“If it’s an honest rape,” Paul said, “that individual should go immediately to the emergency room, I would give them a shot of estrogen.” However, he said, if a woman is “seven months pregnant” and claims she was raped, “It’s a little bit of a different story.”
Ted Cruz’s father is 74-year-old Cuban emigré and fiery Christian Dominionist pastor Rafael Cruz, who genuinely believes that his son has been “anointed by God” to lead the United States back to the path of righteousness as its president.
Pastor Cruz has taken stances somewhere to the right of Jesse Helms and Adolph Eichmann on LGBT rights, against environmentalism — which he dismissed as “Mother Earth worship” — against Obamacare, secularism, progressivism and the teaching of evolution. He has claimed that atheism is responsible for child molestation and will lead to the collapse of society.
“God is not finished with America,” said Rev. Cruz in 2014. “You know, God had his hand upon America. America is a very special country. God has used America to evangelize to the world. Through America, we have sent more evangelists to the world than the rest of the nations of the world put together. God has blessed this nation because we have blessed the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.”
“We need to take back society,” Cruz has said. “I encourage Christians, pastors, run for school office, for school board, run for city council, run for mayor, run for state rep, run for state senate, run for every office in the land.”
So, who’s crazier? Here’s the difference.
With Ron Paul, it’s important to remember that it’s all about the grift. Even when the former Texas Rep is on Alex Jones warning of the coming of martial law and the mass internment of U.S. citizens in “FEMA camps,” he never fails to urge people to buy gold or subscribe to his newsletter.
Rep. Paul’s vast wealth is heavily invested in gold. As long as he can drive Americans to panic and invest heavily in gold that’s being sold to them at vastly inflated prices, his fortune will attain value.
One analyst described Paul’s wealth portfolio as being “a half-step away from a cellar-full of canned goods and nine-millimeter rounds.”
Where Paul is a canny carnival barker, selling lukewarm apocalyptic swill to frightened rubes, a trait it appears his son would share, Rafael Cruz seems by all outward appearances to be a true, dyed-in-the-wool God-bothering believer.
If Jesus is gasoline, Rafael Cruz has huffed so much that he’s slumped over out in the garage with his face down in the red plastic can. He is genuinely stoned on God.
Marxism and socialism, he says, are what’s driving the push for LGBT rights. Would-be New World Order overlords are trying to “destroy the family” so that children can be raised and brainwashed by the state.
“When you hear all these things about homosexual marriage, this has nothing to do with homosexual rights. Did you know that?” he said at a prayer breakfast last year.
“The whole objective is the destruction of the traditional family, it has nothing to do with homosexuals, they could care less about homosexuals, they want to destroy the family,” he insisted.
And that, to us, seems pretty darn crazy. The idea that the whole LGBT rights movement is actually a clever ruse to enable the state to take over our lives, which Cruz seems to honestly believe.
So, sadly for the Paul family, we have to award the big crazy trophy to Pastor Cruz, because however crazy Ron Paul may sound, he’s always got his eye on the bottom line, a trait he shares with a huge number of “sleazy” right-wing bilkers, who managed to scam an estimated 50 million dollars out of eager right-wing rubes over the last few years.