Senator Rand Paul for President

April 11, 2015

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced his candidacy for President of the United States on Wednesday, April 7, 2015. So far, it’s a safe bet that his campaign has seen its apex.

Senator Paul is a legacy candidate as the son of former Congressman and three-time presidential candidate. (2x as an R, and once as the Libertarian candidate.) He’s 52, and seems much younger. He’s an ophthalmologist. And he’s definitely challenged.

This version of the Paul presidential campaign got off to a bad start. Here’s Chris Cillizza on April 8 for the Washington Post with Rand Paul’s problem with female interviewers just cropped up again, describing the Senator’s problems with homey and Today’s show host—and fellow member of the State Bar of Arizona—Savannah Guthrie. Don’t mess with Savannah, dude!

Two things really annoy me about this guy. First, he seems to thrive on not getting along with people. No, he’s not in Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) territory, but he doesn’t play well with others. Is Rand Paul Sexist or Just a Jerk? by Amanda  Marcotte for Slate on April 9 lays out the issue.

We don’t need a jerk in the White House. Really we don’t! Rude is rude, and it’s got no place in the public square among our leaders.

Second, Senator Paul is stupid. I mean, really dumb. Ya, ya, I know he’s a doctor and all that, but he’s still not bright. Here’s one example:

Senator Paul likes to talk about Lasik—when you’re an ophthalmologist, everything looks like an eye chart, or a procedure—and the free market. (For a deeper dive, read Rand Paul’s Dangerous Lasik Obsession by Jonathan Cohn for the New Public on August 27, 2013.) He says:

Insurance doesn’t cover Lasik, the surgery to get rid of glasses. So it started at about $2000 an eye, maybe even $2500 an eye, and it’s down in some communities to under $500 an eye because competition works and people call on average four doctors to get the price and see how much it’s going to cost.

Yes, there’s a free market for Lasik, which tells Senator Paul the free market will solve health care.

Remember, we’re talking stupid here. When I flat line, will anyone call four doctors to check on the price for emergency services and open heart surgery? If I get cancer should I check on pricing for treatments? And oh, by the way, just exactly how will I know what I’m paying for, how efficacious it might be, etc.?

Mr. Cohn notes other issues. First, the Lasik process is highly automated, providing a uniform level of quality. That’s not present in many other health care areas. Second, getting into the Lasik business costs lots of money, but the service gets delivered in a few minutes, so volume matters once the equipment has been purchased. That situation always leads to low prices.

(By the way, in the fine print in Mr. Cohn’s piece he discusses the trade practices/consumer fraud issues in the Lasik industry.)

Health care is not a sector of our economy which matches up well with the free market. We learned the same lesson with respect to residential electricity 15-20 years ago. Remember Enron?

I can find many other reasons why Senator Paul should never get near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But I’ll stop here. Rude we don’t need in any responsible position in our government, and the same goes for someone who cannot understand basic economic issues associated with his profession.

P.S. For another take on Senator Paul, read The Best Reason to Take Rand Paul Seriously Has Nothing to Do with His Politics by Jim Rutenberg for tomorrow’s New York Times magazine. Leaving aside Senator Paul’s personal qualities, Mr. Rutenberg says he knows how to count to 1235, the number of delegates required to get the Republican Party nomination. The man who lives in the White House now used the same strategy to beat his opponent in 2008.


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