Rand Paul's week began with his surprise victory in Kentucky's GOP primary for the Senate but it's ending on a less positive note. After his unusual views on the Civil Rights Act set off backlash and fierce debate about whether Paul is ready for prime time, the candidate made the decision himself by cancelling his appearance on the most prime time political talk show of all, Meet The Press. Here's what happened, why it's a big deal, and why he did it.

  • What Happened  Meet The Press producer Betsy Fischer tells the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, "He committed to coming on on Wednesday. We got an email from his press secretary [Friday] afternoon saying that he wanted to cancel. ... We tried to impress upon them that this is a big deal. The only other two people to cancel have been Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia. ... Obviously they've had a tough week -- we all know that. ... I hope he'll reconsider and keep his commitment."
  • Paul Withering Under First Real Media Inquiry  The Atlantic's Joshua Green says that Paul is just now encountering "an aggressive, experienced press corps that appropriately had its own agenda and was eager to challenge Paul to elaborate on his views." Green says Kentucky's media has been "decimated" by cuts and "there is no longer a healthy, aggressive press corps" that would have discovered Paul's controversial views during the primary. "As much as I'd have liked to see him Sunday on 'Meet the Press,' I think he probably made a wise move in backing out."
  • Just Tired of Civil Rights Act 'Bruising'  The Washington Post's David Weigel reports, "After two days of bruising media coverage about his views on elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the campaign of Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul tells me it has canceled the candidate's upcoming appearance on NBC's 'Meet the Press.' ... 'Rand did Good Morning America today, set the record straight, and now we are done talking about it,' said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. 'No more national interviews on the topic.'"
  • ...This Media Strategy Won't Work  The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen muses, "If Rand Paul talks to a national news outlet again sometime over the next six months, his radical worldview is likely to come up. Will the Republican campaign try to come up with ground rules for journalists? You can interview the Senate candidate, just so long as you don't ask about his views on government? I have no idea how voters in Kentucky will respond to developments like these, but from a distance, the entire fiasco appears humiliating -- for Paul, the Tea Party 'movement,' and the Republican Party of Kentucky."
  • Rand Paul Copied Sarah Palin Playbook  Gawker's Ravi Somaiya explains, "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. ... 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."
  • ...But Their Challenges Differ  The Moderate Voice's Robert Stein writes, "unlike Sarah Palin, Rand Paul’s problem is not that he is clueless about issues but quite the opposite–he clearly has strong views on every subject. His recent mots about the 1964 Civil Rights Act infringing the rights of restaurants and the Obama White House picking on poor BP could be only the tip of an iceberg of Libertarian outcries over government suppression of freedom."