Rand Paul was talking with University of Louisville medical students when one of them tossed him a softball. "The majority of med students here today have a comprehensive exam tomorrow. I'm just wondering if you have any last-minute advice."I … I am entranced. I don't think I've ever heard such a beautiful summation of conservative Republicanism. Let us count the intertwined lessons:
"Actually, I do," said the ophthalmologist-turned-senator, who stays sharp (and keeps his license) by doing pro bono eye surgeries during congressional breaks. "I never, ever cheated. I don't condone cheating. But I would sometimes spread misinformation. This is a great tactic. Misinformation can be very important."
He went on to describe studying for a pathology test with friends in the library. "We spread the rumor that we knew what was on the test and it was definitely going to be all about the liver," he said. "We tried to trick all of our competing students into over-studying for the liver" and not studying much else.
"So, that's my advice," he concluded. "Misinformation works."
- It is all right to lie outright to people if doing so will gain you personal benefit. That's not cheating.
- If you can't do any better yourself, try hurting others. It all counts so long as you end up on top!
- Misdirection is a fine tool for convincing others to do stupid things instead of smarter ones.
What could this not be applied to? Want to convince people that a health insurance law will hurt them? Spread the word that includes something called "death panels!" Is the party brand getting damaged among urban and minority voters, and your "rebranding" efforts have fallen flat? They can't vote against you if they can't vote, so let's make it more difficult for them to get to the voting booth! Having trouble justifying unpopular policies and an apparent inability to do anything worthwhile or competent? Holy crap, look over there—it's a five-headed Benghazi!
And thus one of the most beloved Republican thinkers of our time found his political niche. A crowded niche, to be sure, so we may find out in 2015 that Rand Paul told Cruz, Rubio and certain other Republicans that he had heard the Iowa caucuses were going to be all about who best knew the functions of the liver.