The strange attack on Rand Paul

There is something very strange about the way that the senator from Kentucky was attacked by his neighbor while he was cutting the grass using his riding mower. First reports had Paul’s spokespersons downplaying the scale of the attack, saying that the injuries were very minor, suggesting mere bruises, and that the senator would be back at work soon. But that story changed later and it was revealed that Paul had five broken ribs suggesting a quite brutal attack.

Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, told Fox News that it is unclear when Paul will return to work because he is in “considerable pain” and has difficulty getting around, including flying. Stafford said this type of injury is marked by severe pain that can last for weeks or even months.

“This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force,” Stafford said in a statement to Fox News.

“Displaced rib fractures can lead to life-threatening injuries such as: hemopneumothorax, pneumothorax, pneumonia, internal bleeding, laceration of internal organs and lung contusions. Senator Paul does have lung contusions currently,” Stafford said.

Some people are now saying that there had been prior disputes over landscaping, flowers, and blown leaves. It is not uncommon for neighbors to get on one another’s nerves and for something trivial to cause anger. But in the absence of an aggravating factor like alcohol, people in that socio-economic class tend to vent their anger through their lawyers and lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters and less often through direct physical action.

Paul and his 59-year old neighbor Rene Boucher neighbor have lived in their gated community for 17 years and Boucher is an anesthesiologist, so both men clearly belong to the affluent class. Newspaper accounts give Boucher’s address as 582 Rivergreen Lane in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Google maps shows that this is an area with massive homes on large lots so neighbors are not in close proximity, so many of the normal irritations among neighbors would be absent.

Boucher’s lawyer says that the fight had nothing to do with politics but does not say what it was.

“The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either’s politics or political agendas,” he said. “It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial. We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible.”

Boucher is out on $7,500 bail, a trivial sum for such a person, and at the moment is facing only a misdemeanor charge though the injuries he caused would suggest a felony charge since Paul could well have died. It looks like everyone is trying to downplay this incident, serious though it seems. After all, it is not everyday that a sitting US senator suffers a life-threatening attack.

The Washington Post says that the story just keeps getting weirder as time goes by, and that Boucher’s lawyer calling it ‘trivial’ without specifying what it is adds to the peculiarity.

So it’s a “trivial” matter, but apparently he can’t say what was so “trivial.” Is it because the reason is embarrassing, because it might somehow be more incriminating, or what? It’s also somewhat more difficult to believe such serious injuries would result from such a “trivial” dispute. And the line about them resuming as neighbors “as quickly as possible” is a bit odd.

In the current political situation, a brawl between neighbors, even if one is a US senator, should be no big deal. But this one poses an odd little puzzle. So what might have caused Boucher to go ballistic? Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. jrkrideau says

    # 1 Siobhan
    I was thinking the same. Of course, the reason could be a really serious one—branch of apple tree overhanging neighbour’s lawn perhaps.

  2. Onamission5 says

    I think the key phrase is “operating riding mower.” Noise doesn’t recognize property boundaries.

    At first I speculated that the neighbor was trying to sleep after a long shift and Paul’s mowing activities prevented such, possibly a pattern of similar behavior of which the act of mowing was simply a last straw. It’s not like anesthesiologists keep banker’s hours. They have to be present, afaik, for the entirety of a surgery if they are the one on call/scheduled, even if it’s 20 straight hours, and sleep deprivation makes a person very, very testy. But then I read that the neighbor was retired and that hypothesis went out the window.

  3. says

    Maybe I just have a dirty mind, but I wonder if Boucher found out that Paul was sleeping with his (Boucher’s) wife. Pure speculation, obviously, but it would explain the violence of the attack as well as both men’s apparent desire to keep it quiet.

  4. Mano Singham says

    Sarah A,

    I would not be at all surprised if sex was somehow involved, because that is what people tend to find most embarrassing.

  5. Owlmirror says

    Just musing on language: I’ve gotten so inured to seeing “attack” used to mean something rhetorical that I thought (on just seeing the title in the sidebar) that some Republican politicians had badmouthed or belittled Rand Paul, or something like that.

  6. says

    Regarding Sarah’s comment, I did see people spreading a rumor that Boucher’s wife’s name is Flora and, thus, the true nature of the dispute over “flora.”
    As I also saw one person on Twitter put it, “Oh I’m definitely sure it had something to do with ‘planting seed’ in ‘another man’s flower bed'”
    So it’s not just Sarah with a dirty mind. There are others who are likewise suspicious. It is little wonder why. Not only could that explain what may be so embarrassing that no one is really speaking about it, but could also explain what would so enrage Boucher that he’d (allegedly) break five ribs.

  7. Thud says

    What’s the point of these salacious comments? This is no substitute for investigative journalism or legal investigations.
    I don’t like Paul, but I like verifiable information. What actually happened? Then what might have been motivations are of speculative interest if there are plausible justification for them.

  8. Holms says

    This is one of the side effects of an annoying trend to describe verbal attacks, criticisms, newspaper columns and the like as being more consequential than they are. A late night host’s monologue mocked a politician? “Slammed!” An editorial piece criticises anything? “Eviscerated!” Several news spots voicing criticism at someone in a short span of time? “Embattled!” Blah blah blah.

  9. Mano Singham says

    Holms @#9,

    Yeah, I hate those clickbait exaggerations. They have become so overused that they have ceased to be effective, with me at least.

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