Sen. Rand Paul, left, and his father, Ron, in Iowa in 2011 (Charles Dharapak / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton had a Bill Clinton problem in 2008, and Rand Paul may very well have a Ron Paul problem. In her failed presidential run, Hillary Clinton had a non-stop problem corralling her husband (I know, it wasn’t just in 2008) who felt compelled to jab at Barack Obama and raise the hackles of the language police. (Actually, he was right; it was a “fairytale” to think Obama was ready for the presidency.) But at least Bill Clinton was popular. Ultimately, the prospect of having Bill Clinton meddling in the White House wasn’t so terrible — he was a better-than-average president and certainly not an ideological extremist.

For Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) the cloud of his father lingering over his campaign would be far more problematic.

This week, Ron Paul popped up, generating headlines such as “Rand, Ron Paul team up on Chris Christie.” They objected to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s suggestion that politics is about winning elections. Go figure. Anyhow, the “team up” part is the problem for a candidate who is striving to convince voters that he isn’t his dad, is really a mainstream Republican and won’t be manipulated by Père Paul. This is why the “Southern Avenger” incident — Rand Paul’s hiring of a pro-secessionist nut and, worse, his failure to understand how problematic this was — was a blow to Rand Paul’s dreams of winning the nomination.

It doesn’t help that Rand Paul hasn’t actually accomplished anything in public office. Like his father, he remains a man of rhetoric — not unlike President Obama — instead of a doer, which is fine for the Senate but a disaster (as we have seen) in the White House.

Rand Paul wants to be judged on his own merits. It is only fair that he not be burdened simply because he is Ron Paul’s son. But when he channels his father’s views  (e.g. questioning the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, pushing containment for Iran, cozying up to the pro-Confederate crowd) and echoes his father’s political perspective (undiluted ideology is the highest form of politics) he is asking for trouble.