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The Muzzling of Rand Paul

Turns out tea party darling Rand Paul will likely morph into just another garden-variety neo-con GOP candidate, if his Republican Party handlers get their way, and it appears that they will.

Paul's Republican handlers forced him to cancel a "Meet the Press" appearance -- only the third public figure in 62 years to reneg on his agreeement to be interviewed. Conservative commentator Michael Medved, who noted, "the other no-shows were Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia," outlined the strategy Paul's Handlers will pursue:

It's not too late to reboot his campaign but any effort to do so will require a new dose of rhetorical discipline and ferocious focus...He will also need to distance himself as quickly as possible from the fringe-candidate nuttiness surrounding his father's two presidential campaigns (in 2008 and as a Libertarian standard-bearer in 1988). If he fails to do so he'll suffer humiliating defeat but at least encourage Republicans across the country to disregard another Paulestinian presidential run in 2012 as a dangerous dead-end for conservatives who yearn for meaningful victories.

As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell added, chillingly "He's said quite enough for the time being in terms of national press coverage." The Wall St. Journal Washington Wire reports that Jesse Benton, who coordinated media damage control for Paul's father, has been brought in to help salvage his son's campaign, and a staff shake-up is anticipated.

Paul has been nominated by his party for less than a week, and already he has ticked off African Americans, people with disabilities and miners with waffling explanations of his views. Not an impressive start.

As SoonerBlue2's blog, "Is Rand Paul folding like a cheap lawn chair?," puts it":

Rand Paul will be carted off and muzzled by the Republicans very soon .. rushed over to Fox News for damage control .. as they try to figure out how to spin a Republican nominee for the US Senate who opposes parts of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman reports that the reedy-voiced Paul's next big media appearance will be a Memorial Day radio interview with Louisville's WHAS, which has the most powerful signal in the state. WHAS is owned by, you guessed it, Clear Channels, which features Rush Limbaugh and other reactionary yakkers. Expect softball.

Kentucky Attorney-General Jack Conway's campaign ought to be flogging Paul's MTP no-show for all that it is worth. "In Rand Paul, we have a candidate for the United States Senate who is scared to appear on America's number one political affairs program and explain his views. What a wimp."

Or, alternatively, "Does Kentucky, the state that produced fierce fighters like Henry Clay and Muhammed Ali, need to be represented by a U.S. Senator who is cowered by the big bad media? I think not."

Or, more affirmatively, "Kentucky needs a Senator who is not afraid to be fully-engaged in the great issues of the day. Only one candidate has the courage and brains to meet this challenge, and his name is Jack Conway."

The 'wimp' and 'scardy-cat' memes may best be promulgated by Conway's Democratic supporters, rather than the candidate himself. But it would be a political sin to let Paul's chicken-out from Meet the Press and other open forums go unchallenged.

Maybe Colorado Dems can lend some of those chicken suits to Kentucky Democrats who want to protest against the muzzling of Rand Paul.