When you’re a really strange, bizarre guy with really, really strange, bizarre beliefs running for the U.S. Senate, it should probably come as no surprise that when a strange, bizarre story about you surfaces in the media — and immediately makes a huge impression, being not only strange and bizarre, but having the added virtues of including elements like kidnapping someone of the opposite sex, unsuccessfully trying to force them to do drugs, successfully forcing them to pray to false idols of a distinctly strange and bizarre nature — you react to the story in a thoroughly strange and bizarre manner.
Rand Paul (or, more precisely, his campaign) seems determined to keep the story alive for much longer than necessary.
Here’s the key episode from the GQ story, written by Jason Zengerle:
The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother (the NoZe Brotherhood was a secret society that The Paul became a member of) paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, “He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.”
After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’ At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no.”
First, the campaign of The Paul issued a fairly garden-variety denial-that-doesn’t-really-get-around-to-denying-the-story:
National Enquirer-type stories about Dr. Paul’s teenage years should be left to the tabloids where they belong.
But then someone figured, hey why not add a little more fuel to this media fire, and get everyone to rehash the whole story one more time? So they declared that they were investigating legal options:
We are investigating all our options — including legal ones. We will not tolerate drive-by journalism by a writer with a leftist agenda.
Presumably, not even The Paul’s campaign is quite crazy enough to actually end up filing any kind of legal action. But they didn’t realize that threatening legal action in itself would keep the story alive? And not only did they re-incarnate the story for one more go-around, they allowed GQ to issue a statement, which of course led to one more round of news coverage:
We’ve vetted, researched, and exhaustively fact-checked Jason Zengerle’s reporting on Rand Paul’s college days, we stand by the story, and we gave the Paul campaign every opportunity to refute it. We notice that they have not, in fact, refuted it.
Presumably, The Paul’s campaign will now have to respond again? Whether they do it with aviation fuel or a fire extinguisher is anyone’s guess.
And then we’ll get to see what happens when the kidnapped woman is identified, and either speaks to the media, or doesn’t. (There can’t be too many women who were on the Baylor swim team when Paul was there who went on to become clinical psychologists.)
So do stay tuned for future episodes of The Aqua Buddha story.
(If Rand Paul manages to get elected to the Senate, he will indeed prove that anyone can be a U.S Senator. Or these days, anyone other than an even-slightly-left-of-extreme-right Republican. )
*** Update, Wednesday, 8:24 a.m. ***
The Paul surfaced yesterday on Fox News, to talk to Neil Cavuto about the GQ story. He doesn’t seem to have been very well tutored. He apparently hoped that parsing the meaning of the word “kidnapping” would be swallowed as a denial, but almost nobody is buying.
Take this, for instance:
To produce someone anonymously, and then I’m supposed to somehow respond to an anonymous person from 27 years ago, who in the end says — whoever this person was, says — we didn’t do any harm to them and it was all in fun and we didn’t do anything wrong — and yet it’s being characterized as kidnapping, it’s kind of a craziness…
It’s pretty clear he’s not trying to deny that the incident happened. He’s only saying, hey, you can’t call that kidnapping! It was all just good, clean fun. No harm, no foul. Certainly, no kidnapping.
Asked point-blank to deny the incident itself, instead of whether it can or should be called kidnapping, Paul just dodged the question:
CAVUTO: What do you make of this story? [...]
PAUL: No, I never was involved in kidnapping. No, I was never involved with forcibly drugging people. [...]
CAVUTO: So, they’re characterizing it as a kidnapping type of deal. It might have just been just playful fun? Is that what you’re saying? You might have had incidents like this, but it wasn’t deliberate kidnapping?
PAUL: Well, I — I think I would remember if I kidnapped something — kidnapped someone — and I don’t remember, and I absolutely deny kidnapping anyone ever.
CAVUTO: Apparently she said, they blindfolded me and made me bow down to Aqua Buddha. That might have been just a college prank, but you don’t even remember that, right?
PAUL: Well, I’m not really going to try to go back 27 years and remember everything that happened in college.