Everything’s better with Bluebonnet on it.
But the Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it will ban trans fat, which is still in assorted margarines (including Bluebonnet), microwave popcorn brands and other tasty treats. The agency proclaimed that the prohibition will save 7,000 lives a year.
Then again, a doctor I consulted Monday doesn’t back the overwrought FDA edict.
OK, he’s not just a doctor.
He’s the junior U.S. senator from Kentucky and an obvious-though-unannounced 2016 presidential candidate.
And during a visit with our editorial board Monday afternoon, Dr. Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist making his political rounds in early primary states (South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire), offered this diagnosis when asked about the trans-fat ban:
“It’s just like any other sort of bad behavior. In a free society you let people partake in bad behaviors — smoking, eating too much, not exercising.”
Paul then decried outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Nanny State” efforts to ban large sodas:
“If Bloomberg has his way, he’ll be down here, and basically, you’ll be on the treadmill, and he’ll be whipping you to make sure you stay on the treadmill. I don’t want to live in a world like that. I think most people don’t.”
The good doctor — and senator — even said he smokes an occasional cigar.
He has this healthy prescription for our ailing nation: “Balanced budgets, less taxation, lower regulation.”
Yet could Paul really light up a victory smoke as the 2016 Republican nominee?
And if he does, could he recapture the White House for a party that has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections?
In his own words
Paul said of the GOP: “We either adapt, evolve or die. Because we need to be a party that’s more diverse, that looks like the rest of America.”
A libertarian of sorts, he cited his opposition to the drug war, which “has disproportionately affected African-Americans,” and his support of school choice and “economic freedom zones” as ways to appeal to black voters.
Now he’s looking for a way to quell a plagiarism scandal. While conceding unintentional “mistakes” on that front, Paul clearly resents the challenge to his integrity: “What’s difficult for me is that the implication of the word (plagiarism) is that I’m dishonest, and that’s unfair.”
However, Paul’s difficulties didn’t start, and won’t end, with this latest public-relations snag. In 2010, as he ran for his first Senate term as a tea party rebel against the party establishment, he had to repeatedly insist that he would have voted for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Why? Because he expressed a reservation about one of the bill’s 10 elements — its requirements on private businesses. How will that play with voters — black and white — if he’s the 2016 nominee?
And can he sufficiently distance himself from his controversial father, ex-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul? Also a physician, the ex-presidential candidate is much further out on the libertarian limb than his senator son.
Rand Paul packs his own strong dose of limited-government philosophy — and advocates a “less aggressive” foreign policy that is more “reluctant to go to war.”
He packed a funny punch Monday at the National Security Agency:
“When you get to where you’re spying on the pope, you might have gone too far.”
Though Paul’s been an ardent foe of Obamacare, he’s also a critic of the GOP House’s futile effort to “defund” it last month: “I wasn’t for the strategy of linking it to the spending bill because I didn’t think shutting the government down was good.”
He doesn’t think being called a crank, liar or worse is good, either.
On Monday’s “Imus in the Morning” radio show, simulcast on television by Fox Business, host Don Imus even called Paul “deadwood ick” — and “creepier than his father.”
Thick skin needed
Rand Paul didn’t seem creepy to me Monday.
He seemed sharp — and mostly right about what’s now wrong with our country.
As for the abuse that comes with rising to national political prominence, especially as a tea party conservative, Paul told us: “There are times when I say to hell with it, I’ll just go back to being a doctor.”
Still, “I don’t like any of it, but I tolerate it, because if you want to try to influence things you’ve got to tolerate the people who hate you and are going to attack you.”
You even have to tolerate the busybodies who ban trans fat.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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