Kentucky Democratic US Senate hopeful Jack Conway and his allies continue to attack Republican hopeful Rand Paul for his dissent from drug war orthodoxy. The latest salvo came in an attack ad by Common Sense Ten, an independent "super-PAC" that supports Democratic candidates by attacking Republican ones.
While Common Sense Ten is not directly tied to the Conway campaign, its attack on Paul for his perceived "softness" on drugs echoes themes used by Conway and his campaign. (See our recent feature article on drug policy in the Kentucky Senate campaign here.)
"Here's Rand Paul," the narrator of the Common Sense Ten ad intones, then goes to a voiceover of Paul saying, "Things that are nonviolent shouldn't be against the law," while the words "Libertarian Philosophy" appear on the screen.
"Like other libertarians, he says drug laws are too harsh, and Rand Paul says drugs are not a quote pressing issue here in Kentucky," the narrator continues. "Not pressing? Drugs, especially meth are an epidemic in Kentucky. Lives, families, and whole communities are destroyed every day."
The ad then repeats the Paul quote on nonviolent offenses while the words "Ron Paul -- Wrong for Kentucky" appear on the screen.
While the ad waxes hyperbolic ("whole communities are destroyed every day") and metaphoric (meth is "an epidemic in Kentucky"), the numbers don't back up those claims. According to a recent report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, drug use levels in Kentucky are in line with those in the rest of the country. The "epidemic," in other words, is a politically convenient figment of the collective imagination.
Democrat Jack Conway did not pay for the ad and his name does not appear on it. But it appears Conway and Common Sense Ten are all too happy to engage in regressive drug war politics if it will help them win the election. So far, though, it's not working: According to poll aggregator Real Clear Politics, Paul is leading Conway by an average of 46.0% to 41.7%.
(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)