After it became apparent the “minor injuries” Sen. Rand Paul sustained from an attack by a neighbor Friday were actually fairly severe, people have been trying to understand the nature of the neighborly dispute.
Paul, who suffered five broken ribs and bruised lungs, won’t be able to return to Washington in the immediate future, potentially even temporarily altering the political calculus in the Republican Party. Paul, it appears, is making an effort to downplay the incident, and a few anonymous Kentucky Republicans told the New York Times that Paul was embarrassed by it.
So what happened between Paul and his neighbor of 17 years? Almost all the neighbors the Times interviewed said it was just a matter of landscaping issues. As described by the neighbors: Paul was mowing his lawn in their wealthy neighborhood in the Bowling Green, Kentucky, area, while wearing sound-muting earmuffs. As he stepped off the riding lawnmower, his neighbor, a 59-year-old retired anesthesiologist, charged him and tackled him. Paul, in his earmuffs, didn’t hear the neighbor coming.
The neighbor, perhaps, was just fed up with Paul’s slovenly yard ownership. According to the Times:
The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.
Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.
Could that really be all? The neighbors say yes. Sure, Paul is a libertarian and the neighbor, Rene Boucher, is a registered Democrat who appeared to share memes critical of Donald Trump on social media. And, sure, Paul had staff privileges at a hospital where the neighbor had worked, meaning the chances they interacted or even worked together at some point in a professional setting are high. But Paul told one friend he hadn’t spoken to the neighbor in years, and other neighbors emphasized the dispute was not political in nature.
One man who knows both men, however, described Paul’s neighbor to the Washington Post as “the opposite of Rand Paul in every way” and said the two were known to have “heated discussions” about health care.
And one man who lived nearby and who developed the community where they live said the two just had “strong opinions, and a little different ones about what property rights mean,” according to the Times. Paul “certainly believes in stronger property rights than exist in America,” he said.
It might be a while before we really know what happened between these two neighbors. But hopefully, through the legal process—police have charged Boucher with assault, and he is expected to appear in court on Thursday—we’ll finally have answers.