”There are real and deadly consequences to Rand Paul‘s lies.“

”There are real and deadly consequences to Rand Paul‘s lies.“

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

By BERRY CRAIG

Charles Booker and Sen. Rand Paul are practicing what they preach about COVID 19.

By word and deed, Booker's for social responsibility. Paul's a Covidiot.

According to a recent fund-raising email, the Booker-for-Senate campaign is “holding weekly COVID-19 phone banks to call thousands of Kentuckians and provide information on how to get vaccinated and stay protected.”

Paul, on the other hand, keeps spreading “deadly disinformation about the effectiveness of masks and COVID vaccines,” the email also says. That's what a Covidiot does.

So far, Booker, a Democrat and former state representative from Louisville, is the leading contender in next May's Democratic primary, the filing deadline for which is January 7. Paul, a Republican, is expected to face little or no primary opposition.

"Rand Paul" is a synonym for "Covidiot:" "A person who acts like an irresponsible idiot during the COVID-19 pandemic, ignoring common sense, decency, science, and professional advice leading to the further spread of the virus and needless deaths of thousands.”

Even so, Republicans publicly, and some Democrats privately, think Paul is a shoo-in for a third term. But COVID could be a wild card because it looks like more people are getting mad at Covidiot Republicans.

Though COVID is surging again, Paul, last month, blew a fuse over mandates. He even put out a video calling for public resistance to emergency measures aimed at stopping the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Politicians like Paul have made the GOP the party of COVID denialism and dangerous disinformation. Paul claims that mask and vaccination mandates abridge your personal freedom. "Freedumb" is more like it. The Urban Dictionary online defines "freedumb" as "a totally nonsensical and asinine belief (of many Americans) that freedom means you can literally do anything you want, including violating other peoples' rights." The dictionary helpfully shows how to use "freedumb" in a sentence: "I have the freedumb to give you a disease!" and "I have the freedumb to kill you!"

Covidiot Republicans have "belittled the coronavirus pandemic, scorned vigilance, defended reckless individualism, and obstructed efforts to protect the public," wrote William Saletan in Slate. "For more than a year, they stood by as President Donald Trump helped the virus kill Americans. He collaborated with China’s president to conceal the threat. He told Americans it was a hoax. He silenced officials who sought to warn the public. He opposed testing to track the virus. He ridiculed masks. He launched political attacks on Democratic governors who tried to save lives."

Trump was hardly a solo Covidiot. "Officials in his White House — men who are now positioning themselves to advise and direct the next generation of Republican leaders — collaborated in the deadly work of playing down the virus, hiding its spread, and discouraging the use of masks, Saletan also wrote. "Republican governors rushed to reopen bars, restaurants, and other indoor gathering places, triggering a second wave of carnage in the summer of 2020. And even after a horrific third wave, Republican lawmakers and state officials are standing in the way of efforts to keep Americans safe."

Some surveys suggest the country is wising up to GOP Covidiocy. Democrats are heartened by “private summer polling that showed broad and growing anger at the Republican resistance to vaccination,” Sean Sullivan and David Weigel wrote in the Washington Post.  Such ire helped Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, survive that recall election, which he won in a landslide. A Sacramento Bee headline summed up the vote thusly: “Gavin Newsom used threat of COVID, Larry Elder to defeat recall.”

Okay, California isn’t Kentucky. The former is deep Blue, the later luminescent Red. While Trump got stomped in the Golden State, he romped in the Bluegrass State. Newsom is a liberal in a mostly liberal state. Booker is a liberal in a mostly conservative state.

But Newsom seemed in danger of losing his job before Californians woke up to Elder, the far-right-wing, Trump-hugging Covidiot alternative.

The Trump-toadying Paul’s Covidiocy may cost him Republican votes if the pandemic keeps getting worse.

Okay, Paul’s party rules the political roost just about everywhere in Kentucky except for Booker's hometown and Lexington. But watching helplessly as friends and loved ones suffer and succumb to COVID might overcome some GOP voters' fealty to the Trump-Paul-COVID contrarian party.

Meanwhile, Booker is also accusing Paul of profiting off the deadliest pandemic in a century. "At the very start of the pandemic, Rand Paul and his wife invested in a drug company that made COVID treatments," the email also says. "It was the first time either of them invested in the stock market in the past 10 years. They saw an opportunity to profit off this pandemic and grabbed it.

“Since then, Rand Paul has voted against emergency spending to combat COVID and become the face of COVID disinformation (he was even banned from YouTube because his lies were so dangerous).”

The email warns, “There are real and deadly consequences to Rand’s lies.”

There are indeed.

Booker is rightly portraying masking, vaccinations, and taking other precautions against COVID as non-partisan, socially responsible actions that save lives. “Over 8,000 Kentuckians have died from COVID,” Booker recently tweeted. “Freedom to spread a deadly virus isn’t freedom. Please wear your mask. Please get vaccinated.”

On the other hand, "do whatever in the hell you want" is Paul's basic COVID message.

Of course, Paul has always been the poster boy for self-entitlement and loopy selfishness-is-a virtue libertarianism. In his response to COVID, Paul sounds like Eric Cartman, that bratty cartoon kid from South Park who’s ever crying, “Whatever! I Do What I Want!”

My guess is both candidates will stay their courses.

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Commentary

Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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