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May 24, 2010

Rand Paul Sucking on a Tailpipe?

<span style="font-size: x-small;">Ed Reinke/AP</span>
Ed Reinke/AP

You think things aren’t getting ugly between Rand Paul and the visual media?

About the only unobstructed newswire photo I could find of the much anticipated “unity meeting” with Mitch McConnell was the one above.  Especially after Paul’s comments to Maddow about civil rights, I’m not defending the man at all.  Still, there is a viciousness to this picture (how much it speaks to an editorial agenda and how much it captures Paul’s mind and personality, I can’t say) revolving around Paul’s radical agenda.

Besides capturing McConnell, yes, falling in line behind the Senate-candidate (if also looking a little glazed), Paul comes off really aggressive.  The clenched fist — also familiar to many as connoting a particular sexual activity –has the look of an uppercut, while the way his mouth is captured, he could, just as well, be sucking on an exhaust pipe.

It’s going to be an interesting campaign to watch with the sound off.

(caption: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul speaks to supporters during a party unity rally in Frankfort, Ky. , Saturday, May 22, 2010. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers look on in the background.)

  • Rightwingsnarkle

    Ah, yes, he has the face of an inflatable love doll.

    (I once saw one in a store window).

  • birdgirl

    Look at the red spot between his eyebrows. It is as if he has ben scowling so hard and so much that he has a mark there– He has a boyish face, and could even be “cute” but he’s filled with frustration and anger.

    Most of the time this is a bad thing– but I think his base like him for he– he expresses the anger that they feel about the country that they have “lost” –

    • Malika

      I hadn’t thought about his looks before except to think he always looks stressed and tired. As for attractiveness, I suppose he’s better looking than Ball #1 and Ball #2, but it’s a low threshold.

    • Michael Shaw

      Malika, I somehow missed the #1,2 thing. Very good.

  • Mike

    Is it possible, just sometimes, you’re looking at these photographs a little too hard?

  • thomas

    The image has a very shallow depth of field, and the blank white wall so close makes the room seem very small and a bit claustrophobic. I think the sense of antagonism that seems to exist between Paul and the photographer comes from the spatial feeling that they are just standing too close to each other. Paul seems to be projecting to an audience behind the photographer but not very far behind, and everybody seems very cramped and uncomfortable. The result is an image of Paul very sharply outlined, isolated and flat on the background. Exactly the cut-out cardboard figure he’s struggling not to be seen as. He’s trying to explain himself, but the fact that both hands are fists only heightens the combative aspect of his position. I think the photo really captures his relational problems really well. Even somebody who hasn’t been following the story at all would see that this is a person who is having serious difficulties finding favor with his audience.

    Relatedly, I thought one of the most interesting moments as this crisis around Paul’s views began to unfold in earnest came when he attempted to pull himself clear by calling Obama un-American. The nature of the criticism aside, it’s a classic sort of social-climbing tactic to associate yourself with more prestigious names — either through praise or criticism — as a sure way to tie yourself to them in the minds of your audience. As though Paul is in any way Obama’s equal in terms of status, reputation or political talent, let alone his superior. He abandoned the line pretty quickly (for the moment, anyway), but I though it was interesting that somebody engulfed in his troubling brand of racial politics would try to free himself by characterizing our first black president as un-American. Personally, I think Paul’s head is a house of mirrors from which his poor judgment stands little chance of escaping, but the episode also illustrates how great a market share of the national dialogue Obama currently dominates.

  • Michael Shaw

    Re: looking at these pictures too hard… It’s hard to miss just how stressed Paul is. All the whining about not having a honeymoon, but, instead of taking a few days off, the guy runs onto the Maddow show, which was the equivalent of running into a bladesaw. Running for office is highly stressful, and this guy — trying to reach the Senate not just saddled with a perverse ideology but terrible judgment is failing the test. To the extent that data expresses itself visually, this site exists to interpret it.

  • DennisQ

    Both of the politicians behind Paul look skeptical. Mitch McConnell seems to wonder how the hell this happened, and Hal Rogers, seems to be even more dubious, also a bit angry.

    Rand Paul is a medical doctor and the son of a medical doctor. Both of them – pere et fils seem to approach politics like a medical conference, that is, they’re willing to consider counterintuitive hypotheses. This is desirable when you’re trying to heal a patient who resists standard treatment, but in politics it sounds cockamamie.

    Rand Paul will be known for the things he blurts out. I can hear it now: “He’s the guy who said we oughta repeal the Civil Rights Act.” The fact that he didn’t actually say that is going to be lost. But this is the real world, and low information voters actually vote.

    It’s likely that Dr. Paul is frustrated by the reception he’s getting. After all, he’s doing things the best way he knows how to do them. But from the looks of Hal Rogers and Mitch McConnell, however, he’s not reaching anyone.

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