What first appeared to be a neighborhood dispute that got a little too heated has turned into something much more serious. News reports have confirmed that Sen. Rand Paul was badly injured in what is being described as a blindside assault by his next-door neighbor, 59-year-old Rene Boucher. The attack, which unfolded when the Kentucky Republican was mowing his lawn on Friday, left Paul with five broken ribs, bruised lungs, and potentially months of recovery ahead of him. His neighbor has been arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault.
On Sunday, Paul tweeted: “Kelley and I appreciate the overwhelming support after Friday’s unfortunate event. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”
While Paul was mum on the details of the altercation, his chief of staff, Doug Stafford, released a statement saying that the senator’s broken ribs include three displaced fractures, indicating the seriousness of the attack. “This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force,” he wrote. “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.”
According to the Washington Post, those familiar with both men indicate that they could not be further apart on the political spectrum.
“He’s pretty much the opposite of Rand Paul in every way,” said Jim Bullington, a former city commissioner who knows both Paul and Boucher. He described Paul’s neighbor as a socialist who is divorced and lives by himself.
Another acquaintance of Boucher’s – an RN named Jeff Jones – said Boucher was a “liberal” who “was active on social media and said some negative things about the Republican agenda.”
Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist, left a social media footprint filled with anti-Trump memes and news reports. One recent story with which Boucher was apparently fascinated involved Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, who was arrested after allegedly “body slamming” a reporter in the lead up to the congressional election.
At this early stage, it’s not clear if this was a politically-motivated attack or some form of neighborly dispute that spiraled out of control. Is Boucher your typical liberal loudmouth, or is he someone with some serious mental problems like the shooter in Alexandria? It is, of course, impossible not to recall that Sen. Paul was one of those in attendance at the congressional baseball practice where James Hodgkinson opened fire, nearly killing Rep. Steve Scalise in one of the year’s most shocking incidents of political violence.
For now, we can only pray that Paul makes a speedy and complete recovery. His is an important libertarian voice in the Senate, and besides that, he is a damned fine man of principle.