The Republican Party's most visible leaders, in recent years, have for some bizarre reason equated American freedom with fat bombs like Big Gulps and, more recently, glazed donuts.
The latest example of this is senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Rand Paul. "They're coming after your donuts!" Paul said in a speech in South Carolina on Monday night. "I want to see [FDA Agents] on the treadmill, and I want to see someone from maybe OSHA lashing them while they are working on the treadmill," he jokingly added, explaining that the people making donut rules should be the first ones to live with them.
Paul's warning and FDA agent-lashing-exercise fantasy is in reference to the FDA's announcement last week that it would slowly start to ban artificial trans fats and the partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) that create them. Paul is at odds with nutritionists who say the ban is good for American health. But the senator's big jump to a donut gestapo government bypasses the fact that trans fats aren't really necessary to make donuts, that many restaurants have already banned trans fats without the United States crumbling, and that we might not even be able to taste trans fats.
Even though the facts say that a donut gestapo is not happening anytime soon, Paul is following in the footsteps of other Republicans before him, and attempting to appeal to Americans by presenting this fat food urban legend. And Paul anointing himself as a Joan of Arc for artery-blocking good isn't unlike one Sarah Palin, who showed her freedom-fighting ways by sipping on a Big Gulp at CPAC earlier this year. And Palin arrived at a 2011 appearance in a private school with cookies in hand. And it wasn't too long ago that a fat Republican congressman, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, said out loud that Michelle Obama's round butt was evidence of her being a hypocrite.
Paul's leaps in logic may have come from The Heritage Foundation. The conservative organization published an article declaring: "FDA’s Proposed Trans Fat Ban: An Attack on Freedom." The article goes on to explain that people should be able to eat trans fats until it gives them heart disease:
People can eat trans fat throughout their lives and be fine. Further, even if they eat so much trans fat that they in fact do have greater health risks, this is their personal and informed choice. ... The FDA is now playing the role of nutrition activist and ignoring the most important issue: the freedom of Americans.
Paul may have cribbed the last part. It wouldn't be the first time.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.