Opinion Brief

Is Rand Paul a real doctor?

The medical certificate held by the Republican candidate for Kentucky's senate seat is not recognized by the state. What does this say about his candidacy?

Libertarian Rand Paul, the eye doctor turned Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, may not be a "board-certified" ophthalmologist, as he reportedly claimed. Paul's certification comes from a board he incorporated and heads, but he hasn't been certified by an organization recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties for five years. When reporters asked Paul to explain, he said, "What does this have to do with our election?" He subsequently released a statement saying he had a certification from the main medical board until 2005, but let it lapse to protest a decision to make doctors get recertified every 10 years. Will the confusion hurt Paul's candidacy? (Watch Rand Paul — dressed in scrubs — discuss health care last year)

This qualification cover-up is a question of trust: Politicians should know by now that dodging questions "is a bad idea," says Joseph Gerth at the Louisville Courier-Journal, because it appears they're hiding something. Paul has a point when he says the issue has nothing to do with his policies. But this is an issue of "trust" — if Paul isn't straight with patients about his certification as a doctor, can his potential constituents expect him to treat them any better?
"Rand Paul creates mistrust by refusing to answer questions about ophthalmology certification"

Paul's enemies are inflating "phony" issues to defeat him: The "hooing and hawing" over this comes from the same old group of Rand Paul haters, says Nick Gillespie at Reason. "Yellow Dog Democrats" mostly, but also GOPers mad at Paul for beating their rubber-stamped candidate. An earlier "phony flap" over Paul's views on desegregation was bad enough, but it's becoming increasingly evident that plenty of people in Kentucky will do anything to sink Paul's campaign.
"Looking through Rand Paul's eye doctor certification"

Paul says he was just living his libertarian principles — ha! Paul's "secession" from the established medical board squares nicely with his libertarian belief that no bureaucracy should be able to tell him what to do, says Alex Pareene in Salon. He's "obviously well within his rights to get mad," "write cranky letters," even establish his own rival board. But he can't expect a pass when he claims he was certified by the nationally recognized board, even though he wasn't.
"Dr. Rand Paul's crusade against board certification"

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