Wednesday, November 3, 2010

McConnell and Paul: The Odd Power Couple

Oscar and Felix they are not. But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator-Elect Rand Paul will be incongruous housemates, so to speak, in the U.S. Senate Chamber come next year.

And as for there being another State with more consequential U.S. Senators, forget New York, California and the other mammoth states. Next session it will be Kentucky that packs the punch.

We thought we were fortunate just to have the Senate Republican Leader from our Commonwealth. But with yesterday's election, the national media have anointed Kentucky's junior Senator-elect as the de-facto leader of the national Tea Party movement. Witness Paul's gracing the cover of the latest issue of Time Magazine, his victory as the subject of prominent coverage by national newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times, and his recent ascendancy as the go-to Tea Party guy for national television and radio talk shows -- though I suspect the real reason that Laura Ingraham had him on her show so many times was simply because listeners found her chant of "Aqua Buddha, Aqua Buddha" to be so hilarious.

Given Rand Paul's meteoric rise, does it seem so far-fetched to speculate that he might just end up as part of the equation for the Republican ticket against Obama (or Hillary?) in 2012. Of course, Paul as a presidential candidate is a way long-shot, though his experience in the U.S. Senate in 2012 would be only two years less than Obama's was when he ran. More likely, though, Paul is a potential running mate for Sarah Palin were she to win the GOP nomination.

This is not to say I'm advocating for a Palin-Paul, Paul-Palin, or Paul-anybody ticket. But it is quite remarkably how this eye doctor from Bowling Green who scarcely was seen by any media in 2008, even when his father ran for president, is suddenly the most prominent elected official in the Tea Party movement. That should count for much in the newly transformed balance of power in the nation's capital.

Paul's new found role as national Tea Party spokesman, added to Senator McConnell's position as the leading voice of Senate Republicans, should bode well for Kentucky's status in national politics even if it makes for some odd moments between a most unlikely pair of politicians.

No comments: