...or Jack Conway vs the Aqua Buddha.
We have endured, to date, one of the most shallow and contemptible campaign seasons in modern political history. The main storylines of the 2010 midterm season have centered around whether a Delaware Senate candidate is a witch, if one Nevada Senate candidate has been easier on child molesters than the other, and if the President of the United States has a valid birth certificate. 'Vapid' doesn't begin to describe this campaign season so far, a fact that appears ready to pay dividends for the GOP, because real issues don't play well for them these days. Thanks to the mindless void that is the 'mainstream' news media, serious issues have been getting passed over in favor of the crass and the carnival. - William Rivers Pitt, Truthout.
Just a few minutes ago, I got an email that's all too common: One from some bird running for public office in a state and district in which I do not live begging me for money. Once in a blue moon, I'll donate a few bucks to some truly worthy incumbent like Russ Feingold or Alan Grayson but usually I draw the line well short of them for the simple reason that I do not live in their state or district. After all, why should I give them money when they not only would not represent me but would even bar me half the time from emailing them directly simply because I do not live within their jurisdiction? Back in '06, I was screaming bloody murder about out of state muscle and money being used by the Lieberman campaign after he lost the CT Democratic senate primary to Ned Lamont. Out of state resources being used to elect or re-elect someone is a growing trend that I do not like.
I sent a short email in response to Conway's beg for money asking what the provenance was of the Aqua Buddha story, why it's being used as an attack ad during a US Senate campaign, and why I ought to contribute money to a guy who wouldn't even represent my state. Then I decided to check out Conway's breathless allegations for myself.
And William Rivers Pitt's words on Truthout were brought home to me when I got this email from the Jack Conway campaign. Here's the video that was linked to in the mass email (enjoy the pot-and-patchouli oil music in the background):
Yes, you heard that right. This "Democrat" was inveighing against the evils of Rand Paul and the "Aqua Buddha", over an, at best, apocryphal story first broken by GQ magazine last August. The Aqua Buddha story's authenticity seems to rest entirely on the testimony of a woman who'd been allegedly abducted by Rand Paul while he was an undergrad at the ultra conservative Baylor University. She was brought to a creek and forced to pray to the "Aqua Buddha".
Now, I'm not a fan of Rand Paul, as my regular readers have no doubt guessed by now but let's take this in perspective: Paul was obviously in his early 20's, an immature undergrad (Paul is in the lead picture wearing the black robe and straw hat), and engaging in a harmless ritual that's as much a part of college life as keggers and all night cramming sessions.
And Jack Conway's attack ad would be ridiculous enough to warrant a withering post on those "merits" alone were it not for two other things.
Firstly, Paul's youthful disrespect for organized religion, which was no doubt spurred on by the ultra-conservative Baylor faculty (they didn't allow even dancing on campus until 1996), is given front and center attention in the ad that's obviously endorsed by Conway at the start.
Paul apparently, thought the Bible was a hoax (it is) and later stated he'd like to stop funding for faith-based organizations (something else on which Paul and I agree). But the very act of sucking up to the fundie base on whose support Jack seems to think is essential for getting into the Senate presents us with a startling transformation:
Ergo, secondly, Jack Conway, supposedly a Democrat, looks like a Bush-supporting religious stormtrooper and Rand Paul (albeit a very youthful Rand Paul from 27 years ago) is painted as a hippie, liberal paganist praying to Aqua Buddha in the water.
It's like those campaign spots in that Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote in which the Democratic challenger, played by the late Dennis Hopper, makes him sound like a conservative while painting his Republican challenger, played by Kelsey Grammer, as a flaming liberal:
...and this one...
Of course, this is answered by the formerly conservative President Boone (Grammer) thusly:
Now, as is inevitable in politics (witness Wag the Dog vs Iraq), real life has caught up to satire. Let's just hope that Rand Paul resists the urge to respond in kind or at least with an ad that doesn't double down and stubbornly renew his faith in the Aqua Buddha.
This kind of Democratic pandering to the rabidly anti-gay, anti-free choice evangelical basement dwellers is what's ruining the Democrats' reputation among liberals and real progressives. Bush's faith-based initiatives were a sham and hardly what one would call productive. It reserved federal money to certain entities based on a single man's religious ideology while other faith-based groups got the short end of the stick (and David Kuo told us in Tempting Faith that Bush had underfunded faith-based organizations by 90% since he'd disbursed to them only 10% of the funds he'd promised on the campaign trail).
It's despicable enough that Conway's campaign is desperate enough to use a decades-old college prank alleged by some anonymous person as a campaign issue and to pathetically try to wring money out of it from me when we ought to focusing on things a little more important than false idols and faith-based funding that should've ended on January 20 last year. It's even more despicable not to mention confusing when, as at the end of Orwell's Animal Farm, the two sides morph and turn into each other and we can no longer distinguish which is which.
So go fuck yourself, Jack Conway. Even if I lived in Kentucky, you would've lost my vote.