Whitesburg KY

Do our senators need new careers?

For a guy who claimed to hate career politicians — and spent much of his 2010 Senate campaign bashing them — Sen. Rand Paul sure acts like one.

During his debut on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently, where he unloaded on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and in other recent comments, the Kentucky Republican seemed to have picked up all the tricks of the trade.

“Had I been president at the time,” Mr. Paul told Ms. Clinton — a thought that likely sent chills through spectators — “I would have relieved you of your post.”

Of course, he has a masterful example in career politics from Kentucky’s senior Sen. Mitch McConnell, the leader of Senate Republicans who currently is seeking a sixth term.

Maybe voters should encourage them to consider other careers.

Both, in their own ways, rapidly are becoming an embarrassment to Kentucky and the nation — Mr. Paul, through some of his extreme positions and statements, and Mr. McConnell, through his determination to use any means, no matter how reprehensible, to secure another term in the Senate.

But their appeals to irrational fears, particularly of extremists in the gun lobby, are beyond embarrassing. They are disturbing and do not reflect the views of most Kentuckians when it comes to rational discourse and claims based in reality.

In the wake of the mass shooting of 20 small children and six adults at the Connecticut elementary school, neither is offering thoughtful discussion on how to prevent such massacres or even consider reasonable controls on firearms. Instead, they are ratcheting up the fearmongering, Mr. McConnell for fundraising, and Mr. Paul, apparently to advance on his chosen career path as a politician.

Voters in Kentucky should be concerned, very concerned. And we hope the nation recognizes neither senator presents a balanced view of Kentucky values.

We are better than this and our U.S. senators should be better as well.

By now, we all know about Mr. McConnell’s recent robocalls to gun owners and others, and the ludicrous email blast from his campaign claiming President Barack Obama and Senate “gun-grabbers” are out to “get your guns!”

Yes, the email really did say “Watch out, they’re coming for your guns.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Paul has endorsed paranoid claims of Kentucky gun extremists by sending a representative to the recent “Guns Across America” rally in Frankfort where some recited as fact spurious internet reports that martial law is imminent as a means to confiscate firearms. Others, including a representative of Mr. Paul, invoked the spectre of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in denouncing gun control.

“In Nazi Germany, they took away the Jews’ guns … and what happened?” asked Chris Musgrave, a Paul representative. “They were rounded up and exterminated. Same thing happened under Stalin in Russia.”

Some in the gun-toting crowd enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Paul’s solution to school shootings that most educators have denounced — putting more armed personnel and vigilantes into public schools.

Nor did Mr. Paul — who has presidential aspirations — distinguish himself at last week’s hearing on Benghazi, where he exploited the deaths of four Americans as he lectured Ms. Clinton. Instead, he showed his willingness to:

• Go after potential rivals. (Ms. Clinton in 2016?)

• Grandstand, pontificate, scold and generally make a pain of himself. (Isn’t that the point of congressional committee hearings?)

• Indulge in outrageous hyperbole. (Does anyone really think the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi represented, in Mr. Paul’s words, “the worst tragedy since 9/11”?)

• Never, ever let the truth or your record get in the way of a good political stunt. (Possibly the richest moment of the hearing was Mr. Paul lecturing Ms. Clinton on the need to beef up security after he, in 2012, proposed slashing the State Department budget by 38 percent!).

Voters in Kentucky need to pay attention to how far out of the mainstream the two senators have drifted. If you disagree with them, contact their offices.

If you’re still unhappy, show your displeasure at the polls.

— The Courier-Journal, Louisville

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