I don’t know whether Jack Conway’s “Aqua Buddha” attacks on Rand Paul are smart politics or stupid politics. We won’t know until election day, probably. However, I assume Conway knows his state better than I do.
In a rational world, making a campaign issue out of something that sounds like youthful, if stupid, hijinks when there are far more important issues going on would be stupid. For example, Rand Paul is in favor of the unrestricted mountaintop strip mining that has devastated much of eastern Kentucky. He is also for dismantling the mine safety regulations that have no doubt saved the lives of thousands of Kentucky coal miners over the years.
But I take a large percentage of the voters of Kentucky aren’t concerned about the ruined mountains and the lives and health of miners. I don’t know whether these voters don’t know about Paul’s stands on these issues, or whether they’ve bought the libertarian fantasy that mine owners would take loving care of the environment and their employees if only the federal government stopped regulating them.
There are legitimate reasons to be squeamish about making an issue of something that, in a sane world, wouldn’t register as an issue. But we’re not living in a sane world. The fact that certifiable loony tune Sharron Angle and flawed but at least not crazy Harry Reid are tied in Nevada tells us it’s not a sane world. If a candidate could win votes by dancing naked on an elephant while singing “I’m a Little Teapot,” might as well do it.
Nate Silver says Paul is still ahead of Conway in the polls, but also that there has been “a dearth of public polling of late” in Kentucky.