Today’s New York Times Magazine carries an interview with Rand Paul, in which Deborah Solomon expresses shock that someone who hasn’t held a government job before might run for the Senate. “You haven’t even served in government for five minutes,” she says. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a prerequisite. I’ve been active in politics for a group called Kentucky Taxpayers United for 15 to 20 years,” Paul replies.

Would Solomon ask the same question of, say, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who’s running for the Republican Senate nomination in California? Career politicians and corporate leaders belong in the Senate; ophthalmologists and anti-tax organizers do not. Except the tea parties, and I suspect Kentucky voters in general, don’t agree, which is why Rand Paul will win.

The hard-hitting interview then moves to the pressing issue of — war in Afghanistan? Guantanamo detainees? The Federal Reserve? Think bigger:

[W]here are you on an issue like seat belts? Federal legislation requiring people to wear seat belts could obviously save lives.
I think the federal government shouldn’t be involved. I don’t want to live in a nanny state where people are telling me where I can go and what I can do.

You shouldn’t trivialize issues of health and safety by calling them nanny issues.
The question is, do you want to live in a nanny state where the government tells you what you can eat, where you can smoke, where you can live, what you can do, or would you rather have some freedom, and freedom means that things aren’t perfect?

Somewhere between the archly lightweight and the actually vapid is a line the New York Times dares to cross.