Quote of the Day

Mr. [Rand] Paul was in New Hampshire last weekend, speaking to conservative activists at the Freedom Summit, emphasizing the need for Republicans to do a better job of reaching out to Hispanics and African-Americans.

It’s a fine message. Or rather, it would be a fine message if it weren’t for Mr. Paul’s long political association with Jack Hunter, aka the “Southern Avenger,” a former radio shock jock who co-wrote Mr. Paul’s 2011 book “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.” On April 14, 2004—the 139th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination—Mr. Hunter wrote a column titled ” John Wilkes Booth Was Right.” He also lamented that “whites are not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity” as blacks and Hispanics.

Mr. Hunter remained a member of Mr. Paul’s staff until last July, when the Washington Free Beacon broke the story. Afterward, Mr. Hunter recanted his views and pleaded amnesia. As for Mr. Paul, he defended his former aide, saying he had merely been “stupid,” that he had been “unfairly treated by the media,” and that “he got along fine with everybody in the office, treated everyone fairly, regardless of race or religion.”

So can we now, um, switch the subject?

Yes, we can. Let’s move on to a YouTube video of Mr. Paul in April 2009, offering his insights to a college group on foreign policy. Channeling Dwight Eisenhower, the future senator warned “we need to be so fearful of companies that get so big that they can actually be directing policy.”

“When the Iraq war started, Halliburton got a billion-dollar no-bid contract. Some of the stuff has been so shoddy and so sloppy that our soldiers are over there dying in the shower from electrocution.”

Then he gets to his real point: Dick Cheney, who opposed driving all the way to Baghdad when he was defense secretary in the first Bush administration, later went to work for Halliburton. “Makes hundreds of millions of dollars, their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government and it’s a good thing to go into Iraq.”

Mr. Paul’s conclusion: “9/11 became an excuse for a war they already wanted in Iraq.”

Cui bono—to whose benefit? It’s the signature question of every conspiracy theorist with an unhinged mind. Cheney. Halliburton. Big Oil. The military-industrial complex. Neocons. 9/11. Soldiers electrocuted in the shower. It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

If Mr. Paul wants to accuse the former vice president of engineering a war in Iraq so he could shovel some profits over to his past employer, he should come out and say so explicitly. Ideally at the next Heritage Action powwow. Let’s not mince words. This man wants to be the Republican nominee for president.

Bret Stephens.