Fleeing the sounds of their voices

All in the world Rand Paul stands guilty of is taking prevailing contemporary Republican rhetoric and applying it to real-life situations.

And, man, you should have seen the Republicans scatter. They beheld the true meaning of their own words and fled from the sounds of their own voices.

Thus Kentucky's Republican senatorial nominee did everyone a favor.

For Republicans, he brought into sharper focus certain of their modern ideals.

He gave the rest of us an opportunity to see the vast and vivid difference between the sweet superficial ring of those ideals -- less government, smaller government, states' rights, individual liberty, market freedom -- and the actual practice of them.

First, after sweeping to victory as a Tea Party libertarian, Paul said he favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 except the part whereby the federal government presumed to tell private businesses that they could not discriminate by race.

That, he seemed to be saying, amounted to an infringement on private property rights and provided an example of government reaching too far into our lives to restrict our essential personal liberty.

In other words, he believed it was appropriate for government to decree that public schools couldn't discriminate by race in student attendance, but not for government to tell a restaurateur trying to make a private buck what he had to do in the way of choosing to serve or not serve potential paying customers.

That's simply a basic Republican concept, or precept, advanced in its infancy by Ronald Reagan when he said government wasn't the solution, but the problem.

"No shirt, no shoes, not white, no service" -- that would be an acceptable restaurant posting if the Republicans were made to live by their own mantras.

The inhumanity, the blind eye to apartheid, would be only part of the problem with that. The other part would be inconsistency.

Modern Republicans extol states' rights, you see, and condemn federal intervention.

That would leave some of our less sterling states -- calling no names here -- to impose their old Jim Crow laws, which, when you think about it, were every bit as onerously infringing on private property liberty as the federal Civil Rights Act.

In some cases, Jim Crow state laws told a restaurant it couldn't serve a black person. The federal Civil Rights Act told that restaurant it had to serve that black person if the black person came around.

Either way, the restaurant is not free. But at least it's fair and decent by the federal edict.

Speaking of federal regulation of business, you will notice that Paul merely took a logical step in Republican resistance to it when he decried as "un-American" the Obama administration's talk -- its own rhetoric, it seems -- about keeping a boot on British Petroleum's neck to do right by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

That spirit of Republican resistance to government regulation of business was evidenced by George W. Bush's leaving the financial markets unmonitored by government until they had bankrupted us and he was forced to impose a semi-socialist safety net that people with short memories insist on blaming on his successor. By modern Republican talking points, Rand is right in line when he says the federal government ought to leave BP alone.

By further Republican talking points, the responsibility for dealing with that seeming disaster would rest with the respective states, who would have no right or basis for demanding or accepting any help or coordination of efforts from Washington.

Also by Republican talking points, those affected states and their Republican governors would have no basis in blaming a Democratic administration in Washington for failing to respond with sufficient vigor and efficiency.

When you think about it, the only thing George W. did wrong after Katrina was practice what Republicans preach.

John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of "High Wire," a book about Bill Clinton's first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.