In a story that continues to get more bizarre as new details emerge, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), is recovering from 5 broken ribs after a neighbor assaulted him Friday afternoon while the Tea Party Republican leader was mowing his lawn in his gated community in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
What was initially reported as "minor injuries" turned out to be far more severe.
It emerged over the weekend that Paul had suffered five rib fractures in the assault, including three displaced fractures (where the pieces of the broken bone are knocked completely out of alignment) and pulmonary contusions, which can lead to potentially life threatening fluid buildup in the lungs.
Senior Paul adviser, Doug Stafford, sent a statement to the Bowling Green Daily News that made clear just how serious the senator's injuries are:
"This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force. It is not clear exactly how soon he will return to work, as the pain is considerable as is the difficulty in getting around, including flying."
Paul posted a message to social media Sunday saying:
The assailant was Paul's own neighbor and a fellow Bowling Green physician of anesthesiology, 59-year-old Dr. Rene Albert Boucher. Kentucky state troopers say he "intentionally assaulted" the senator.
Assaulting a member of Congress is a federal crime that could carry a felony charge for the attacker. Capitol Police, as well as the FBI, are investigating the incident, and police report that Boucher, "admitted going onto Paul's property and tackling him."
Red State has some more information about Rene Boucher, including his fervent support for Democratic Party politics, which is one clue as to his possible motive:
"The information about Rene’ Boucher, the man responsible for an attack on Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is beginning to trickle in.
For starters, Boucher, like Paul, is a doctor. According to his Facebook page, he served as an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist with the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1993.
He studied Biology and Pre-Med at Providence College, and attended the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines.
His Facebook page is a long collection of anti-Trump memes and articles, with at least one article on Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate from the Montana special congressional election who body slammed a reporter."
As it turns out, the FBI has confirmed Boucher's motives were political:
"The FBI told local Kentucky media early Sunday that an assault that left Republican Sen. Rand Paul injured and reeling was "politically motivated."
According to WNKY, a Kentucky NBC affiliate, authorities and Paul's neighbors believe Rene Boucher attacked Paul over his ideological leanings. The FBI, the local news organization says, has confirmed the motive.
Boucher is a registered Democrat, according to voter rolls, updated in March of 2017.
Boucher, who reportedly lives down the street from Paul, assaulted the senator while Paul was mowing his lawn. Paul, who was wearing earplugs, stepped off his ride-on mower to handle something on the ground when Boucher attacked."
In May, I chastised the Republican Party leadership -- naming Paul Ryan specifically -- for its lack of moral leadership in not disavowing Greg Gianforte or refusing to allow him into the House Republican Caucus after he body slammed a reporter just before the election.
So it's notable that Paul's attacker had posted about this earlier this year.
The violence in politics needs to be stopped at every turn with decisive rebukes from political leaders or it may spread like a cancer.
Who knows? A proper and morally responsible response to Gianforte from the GOP leadership may have been enough to keep Paul out of Boucher's crosshairs.
But Republican leaders aren't the only ones who have a moral responsibility to condemn violence from their own side to keep tensions in America from devolving into a blood feud.
Trump was denounced by Democrats for condemning the violence on "all sides" after a woman was killed by a white supremacist at the Charlottesville rally.
Yet, even as they made their condemnations, a Republican politician was still recovering from a gun shot wound he sustained at baseball practice in Virginia when a shooter confirmed that the men on the field were Republicans and opened fire.
Rand Paul was among those who were shot at.
We must demand an end to the violence and to the violent rhetoric. This summer, excited liberals took to social media en masse to declare their support for punching Nazis, even as many casually compare conservative politicians to Nazis.
Before American partisan politics becomes a violent, nationwide conflagration, we who speak for reason, compassion, and human kindness must say enough is enough!