How Rand Paul is the New Sarah PalinS

Both emerged from nowhere, became darlings of the right and proceeded to go on devastating media tours which revealed exactly how extreme their views were, and how unprepared they both seemed for national office. But the similarities don't stop there.

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul canceled an appearance on Meet the Press tomorrow, after a week filled with gaffes that revealed unorthodox positions on civil rights (anti) and BP (pro). It's a move straight out of Sarah Palin's playbook. Or Rand Paul's playbook. Because they're the same playbook really, and the same figure.

They both have bizarre and culty associations:

Palin was associated with an extremist Christian church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, where a Kenyan pastor, Thomas Muthee, cast evil spirits from her. She appears at around 7.20:

Paul, meanwhile, is being held to account for his strange belief in absolutely discredited conspiracy theories — among them his view that Canada and Mexico are plotting a single North American currency, the Amero, and a superhighway that will make the continent into a superstate and remove American sovereignty.

They both use the dog whistle:

Sarah Palin cannot directly call her supporters to arms, and encourage them to commit violence. But she has hit upon various dog-whistle tactics that hint at her approval for such measures. Her new catchphrase is "don't retreat — RELOAD!" She has said that it is "a call for political activism, not violence," and that the 'Lamestream media' is twisting her words.

Paul, meanwhile, has said that he would not want the government to enforce civil rights legislation that prevents business owners discriminating on the grounds of race. It is debatable whether this is rooted in anti-government or racist sentiment. But there's a convincing argument for the latter here.

They both see enquiry as attack:

You cannot question Sarah Palin. It is sexist and/or partisan to do so. You cannot question Rand Paul, because that counts as an "attempt to vilify us for partisan reasons." Which is why both, after their disastrous introductions to honest enquiry, now shy away from it. Palin has not been near a genuine journalist since the 2008 campaign. Paul is canceling a planned media tour, citing "fatigue", for fear he'll be asked actual questions about his positions, which he will then have to answer honestly.

They are the great white hopes of the extreme right:

The sad truth is that a Palin/Paul ticket would garner considerable, very vocal and probably illiterate support from a significant group of Americans. They're young. They're (relatively) attractive. They provide an anger sink for the disaffected millions seeking someone, anyone, to blame for their woes. Whether such a ticket is remotely feasible depends entirely on whether they can hide their extreme views, dog whistle to their supporters without getting caught and avoid any actual questions on their qualifications.