Sen. Rand Paul airs his Festivus grievances — and then honors bipartisanship

Sen. Rand Paul's annual Festivus airing of grievances culminated in a touching tribute to Sen. Cory Booker

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 23, 2018 3:45PM (EST)

Rand Paul (Getty/Alex Wong)
Rand Paul (Getty/Alex Wong)

It has become an annual tradition: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will spend a healthy chunk of each Dec. 23 airing his grievances on Twitter.

No, he isn't being a Grinch when he does this. Quite to the contrary, he is celebrating Festivus, a parody holiday popularized in the 1997 "Seinfeld" episode "The Strike." One of the traditions of this pseudo-holiday — which has become all too real — is that individuals will publicly air their grievances, a ritual that Paul has taken to Twitter with a regularity that would put Frank Costanza to shame.

Below are the grievances that Paul saw fit to share with the Twitter-verse for Festivus 2018.

There are a couple of things noteworthy about these tweets. The first is that, in a departure from the spirit of merely airing grievances, Paul also began comically riffing on his colleagues in general. It was especially notable that he took shots at National Security Advisor John Bolton and Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, since all of them are members of his own party. While the jokes about Lee and Cruz seemed to be affectionate, he was undeniably cutting in his accusations against Bolton and Graham, whom he characterized as warmongers.

And, of course, Paul went after liberals who he perceives as supporting big government and wasteful spending. For a Rand Paul Festivus rant, it was standard, ho-hum stuff.

Then he decided to tell a more touching story, one that he characterized as nothing short of a "Festivus miracle." The co-star of that tale was Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

This trilogy of tweets refers to a criminal justice reform bill that passed the Senate last week with overwhelming bipartisan support, a rarity in a government so torn by partisanship that it has shut down several times this decade. Among other things, the new law will retroactively reduce the disparity in drug sentences between crack and cocaine offenses, provide prisoners with incentives that will help lower recidivism and reduce the "three strikes" penalty for drug felonies to 25 years. It was a bill that Paul and Booker worked hard on passing — and their relationship began on a different Festivus five years ago.

It may seem silly for a holiday made famous by a sitcom to yield constructive policy results, but such is the miracle of Festivus — and, for that matter, comedy.

Paul ended his 2018 Festivus rant by taking a swipe at President Donald Trump and his pro-Merry Christmas agenda.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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