When life intrudes on blogging, it can be more than a little difficult to stay current on the news of the day. Life has certainly intruded in my case, so this blog post on Ron Paul’s candidacy in general–and his newsletter and its contents in particular–will seem dated for some. But I think it’s still worth my time to write it; if only to satisfy a particular blogging itch of mine. Being a Republican with pronounced libertarian leanings, I’d like to think that I might have some sympathy for Paul’s candidacy. But the more Paul’s candidacy goes on, the more I find myself repulsed by it. And I hope that after reading this blog post, you find yourself repulsed by it too.
Let’s start by pointing out something that I have mentioned before on this blog: Ron Paul is not a real libertarian. Want a real libertarian? Take a look at the candidacy of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, who beats out Paul in every respect when it comes to comparing libertarian credentials. It’s a shame that Johnson did not get the kind of backing, publicity, and support that Paul has gotten; if he had, the country would have a better sense of what libertarianism is. I recognize, of course, that Paul is more likely to be president than Johnson is–though Paul will not be president–but in a just world, Johnson would have been the libertarian standard bearer that Paul is supposed to be.
But Paul’s failings are not confined to his lack of libertarian credentials. He is plainly unacceptable as a presidential candidate, as Dorothy Rabinowitz points out:
A grandfatherly sort who dispenses family cookbooks on the campaign trail, candidate Paul is entirely aware of the value of being liked. He has of late even tried softening the tone of some of his comments on the crime of foreign aid and such, but it doesn’t last long. There he was at the debate last Thursday waving his arms, charging that the U.S. was declaring “war on 1.2 billion Muslims,” that it “viewed all Muslims as the same.” Yes, he allowed, “there are a few radicals”—and then he proceeded to hold forth again on the good reasons terrorists had for mounting attacks on us.
His efforts on behalf of Iran’s right to the status of misunderstood victim continued apace. On the Hannity show following the debate, Dr. Paul urged the host to understand that Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had never mentioned any intention of wiping Israel off the map. It was all a mistranslation, he explained. What about Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust? A short silence ensued as the candidate stared into space. He moved quickly on to a more secure subject. “They’re just defending themselves,” he declared.
The claim that the United States had declared “war on 1.2 billion Muslims,” or that it “viewed all Muslims as the same” is absurd, as is the unbelievably ignorant and offensive claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inglorious embrace of Holocaust denial is all about Iranians “defending themselves.” The vast majority of Iranians are horrified and disgusted by the episodes of verbal flatulence their president is so famous for, and ironically enough, it is Paul who views all Iranians as the same by suggesting that (a) Iranians–by use of the pronoun “they”–have embraced Holocaust denial as a nation; and that (b) they have done so to “defend themselves.” (Against whom? People who have an accurate understanding of history in general, and the Holocaust in particular?) The Iranian people are much better than is their leadership class–a point I have made constantly on this blog. It’s scandalous that Paul can’t seem to understand that.
Other examples of Paul’s manifest lack of qualifications for the presidency can be referenced without breaking much of a sweat. His endorsement of goldbug economics is a laugh riot. If we go back on the gold standard–as Paul would want us to–it would only serve to court hyperinflation in the price of gold, as the total amount of gold that has been mined would be too small an amount to serve as a monetary base, and demand would dramatically outrun supply. A return to the gold standard would prevent us from increasing the money supply during an economic downturn; Paul believes that this is a good thing, and wants to “End the Fed” for this particular reason, but monetary stimulus is a powerful tool that only the antediluvian dismiss as a policy option. During the Great Depression, adherence to the gold standard forced central banks to keep monetary policy too tight, thus exacerbating the economic downturn. I could go on, but it is something of a testament to the bizarre contemporary political environment that I or anyone else has to make the case anew against the gold standard. The fact that it is a bad idea ought to be a closed question.
But hey, put aside the notion that Paul has batty policy views. Many politicians do; otherwise, they would not be particularly entertaining. The major problem with Paul’s candidacy for the presidency–or for any other office of power and importance, for that matter–is that he is simply morally unfit to be trusted with any kind of leadership position whatsoever.
Paul’s moral failings are made clear by the publication of his newsletter back in the 1980s and 1990s. In the event that you have been living under a rock, Jamie Kirchick will fill you in on what those newsletters have had to say:
In January 2008, the New Republic ran my story reporting the contents of monthly newsletters that Paul published throughout the 1980s and 1990s. While a handful of controversial passages from these bulletins had been quoted previously, I was able to track down nearly the entire archive, scattered between the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society (both of which housed the newsletters in collections of extreme right-wing American political literature). Though particular articles rarely carried a byline, the vast majority were written in the first person, while the title of the newsletter, in its various iterations, always featured Paul’s name: Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, and the Ron Paul Investment Letter. What I found was unpleasant.
“Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks,” read a typical article from the June 1992 “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism,” a supplement to the Ron Paul Political Report. Racial apocalypse was the most persistent theme of the newsletters; a 1990 issue warned of “The Coming Race War,” and an article the following year about disturbances in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., was entitled “Animals Take Over the D.C. Zoo.” Paul alleged that Martin Luther King Jr., “the world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours,” had also “seduced underage girls and boys.” The man who would later proclaim King a “hero” attacked Ronald Reagan for signing legislation creating the federal holiday in his name, complaining, “We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.”
No conspiracy theory was too outlandish for Paul’s endorsement. One newsletter reported on the heretofore unknown phenomenon of “Needlin’,” in which “gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14” roamed the streets of New York and injected white women with possibly HIV-infected syringes. Another newsletter warned that “the AIDS patient” should not be allowed to eat in restaurants because “AIDS can be transmitted by saliva,” a strange claim for a physician to make.
Paul gave credence to the theory, later shown to have been the product of a Soviet disinformation effort, that AIDS had been created in a U.S. government laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Three months before far-right extremists killed 168 Americans in Oklahoma City, Paul’s newsletter praised the “1,500 local militias now training to defend liberty” as “one of the most encouraging developments in America.” And he offered specific advice to antigovernment militia members, such as, “Keep the group size down,” “Keep quiet and you’re harder to find,” “Leave no clues,” “Avoid the phone as much as possible,” and “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
. . . No foreign country was mentioned in the newsletters more often than Israel. A 1987 newsletter termed it “an aggressive, national socialist state,” and another missive, on the subject of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, concluded, “Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.” In 1990, the newsletter cast aspersions on the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise.”
Kirchick notes that Paul has tried to distance himself from his newsletter, and the vile things it has stated. Paul claims that he did not edit the newsletter, and says that allegations of racism ought to be ignored because some of his best supporters come from the very groups that the newsletter has vilified and attacked in the most obscene ways. But this is a ridiculous excuse, as Kirchick indicates:
Yet a subsequent report by Reason found that Ron Paul & Associates, the defunct company that published the newsletters and which counted Paul and his wife as officers, reported an income of nearly $1 million in 1993 alone. If this figure is reliable, Paul must have earned multiple millions of dollars over the two decades plus of the newsletters’ existence. It is incredible that he had less than an active interest in what was being printed as part of a subscription newsletter enterprise that earned him and his family millions of dollars. Ed Crane, the president of the Cato Institute, said Paul told him that “his best source of congressional campaign donations was the mailing list for the Spotlight, the conspiracy-mongering, anti-Semitic tabloid run by the Holocaust denier Willis Carto.”
Oh, and the lunacy does not stop there:
In the four years since my article appeared, Paul has gone right on appearing regularly on the radio program of Alex Jones, the most popular conspiracy theorist in America (unless that distinction belongs to Paul himself). To understand Jones’s paranoid worldview, it helps to watch a recent documentary he produced, Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement, which reveals the secret plot of George Pataki, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix, among other luminaries, to exterminate humanity and transform themselves into “superhuman” computer hybrids able to “travel throughout the cosmos.” There is nothing Jones believes the American government isn’t capable of, from “[encouraging] homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children” to blowing up the Space Shuttle Columbia, a “textbook psychological warfare operation.”
In a March 2009 interview, Paul entertained Jones’s claim that NORTHCOM, the U.S. military’s combatant command for North America, is “taking over” the country. “The average member of Congress probably isn’t a participant in the grand conspiracy,” Paul reassured the fevered host, essentially acknowledging that such a conspiracy exists. “We need to take out the CIA.” On Paul’s latest appearance on the Jones show, just last week, he called allegations that Iran had attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States a “propaganda stunt” of the Obama administration. In a January 2010 speech, Paul announced, “There’s been a coup, have you heard? It’s the CIA coup” against the American government. “They’re in businesses, in drug businesses,” the congressman added.
By now, assuming any sense of decency exists amongst them, even the most passionate Paulites ought to be feeling queasy. In the event that they don’t, perhaps they ought to read this:
The tenor of Paul’s newsletters changed over the years. The ones published between Paul’s return to private life after three full terms in congress (1985) and his Libertarian presidential bid (1988) notably lack inflammatory racial or anti-gay comments. The letters published between Paul’s first run for president and his return to Congress in 1996 are another story—replete with claims that Martin Luther King “seduced underage girls and boys,” that black protesters should gather “at a food stamp bureau or a crack house” rather than the Statue of Liberty, and that AIDS sufferers “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.”
[. . .]
Anyone with doubts about the composition of the “parasitic Underclass” could look to the regular “PC Watch” feature of the Report, in which Rockwell compiled tale after tale of thuggish black men terrifying petite white and Asian women. (Think Birth of a Nation crossed with News of the Weird.) The list of PC outrages in the February 1993 issue, for example, cited a Washington Post column on films that feature “plenty of interracial sex, and nobody noticing,” a news article about black members of the Southern Methodist University marching band “engaged in mass shoplifting while in Japan,” and a sob story about a Korean shop-owner who shot a black shoplifter and assailant in the head: The travesty is that Mrs. Du got five years probation, and must cancel a trip to Korea.
The populist outreach program centered on tax reduction, abolition of welfare, elimination of “the entire ‘civil rights’ structure, which tramples on the property rights of every American,” and a police crackdown on “street criminals.” “Cops must be unleashed,” Rothbard wrote, “and allowed to administer instant punishment, subject of course to liability when they are in error.” While they’re at it, they should “clear the streets of bums and vagrants. Where will they go? Who cares?”
A direct-mail solicitation for Ron Paul’s political and investment newsletters two decades ago warned of a “coming race war in our big cities” and of a “federal-homosexual cover-up” to play down the impact of AIDS.
The eight-page letter, which appears to carry Paul’s signature at the end, also warns that the U.S. government’s redesign of currency to include different colors – a move aimed at thwarting counterfeiters – actually was part of a plot to allow the government to track Americans using the “new money.”
The letter urges readers to subscribe to Paul’s newsletters so that he could “tell you how you can save yourself and your family” from an overbearing government.
To the extent that Paul adopted his vile and reprehensible views not out of any particular conviction, but rather because he was in the business of getting votes by any means necessary, it should still be found that Paul has failed the most basic of tests for character and moral sensibility. The fact that Paul has seen fit to lie about his knowledge of the newsletters and their contents, and the degree to which he hyped his newsletters to anyone within earshot, ought to tell us plenty about his character as well. And so should this:
The American Free Press, which markets books like “The Invention of the Jewish People” and “March of the Titans: A History of the White Race,” is urging its subscribers to help it send hundreds of copies of Ron Paul’s collected speeches to voters in New Hampshire. The book, it promises, will “Help Dr. Ron Paul Win the G.O.P. Nomination in 2012!”
Don Black, director of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront, said in an interview that several dozen of his members were volunteering for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and a site forum titled “Why is Ron Paul such a favorite here?” has no fewer than 24 pages of comments. “I understand he wins many fans because his monetary policy would hurt Jews,” read one.
Far-right groups like the Militia of Montana say they are rooting for Mr. Paul as a stalwart against government tyranny.
Mr. Paul’s surprising surge in polls is creating excitement within a part of his political base that has been behind him for decades but overshadowed by his newer fans on college campuses and in some liberal precincts who are taken with his antiwar, anti-drug-laws messages.
The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.
But he did not disavow their support. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.
The correct response here would be “I hope that the racist, knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers who are trying to hijack my candidacy for their own goose-stepping ends go play in traffic, and that predictable results follow.” Notice that Paul did not give that response. Not even close.
A discussion of this issue would not be complete without referencing the part Andrew Sullivan has played in trying to boost Paul’s candidacy. The following do not represent all of Sullivan’s recent writings on Paul, but they certainly do represent a significant sampling of his written opinion on Paul’s candidacy:
1. December 15: Sullivan endorses Paul for the GOP presidential nomination.
2. December 20: Sullivan asks “How Responsible Is Paul For His Newsletters?” The correct answer would be “very responsible,” given the fact that they are Paul’s newsletters–as Sullivan is forced to admit via the use of the possessive pronoun “his”–and given documented facts (linked above) making clear that Paul knew of the newsletters, and profited handsomely off of them. Sullivan, however, will brook no such straightforward, clear, patently and skull-crushingly obvious conclusions, and declares that to infer from the newsletters “that Paul is a big racist is a huge subjective leap I leave to others more clairvoyant than myself.” So there you have it; according to Sullivan, despite all of the evidence out there regarding Paul’s insensitivity regarding racial issues, one needs a high midichlorian count and extensive training on Dagobah to possess the sufficient Jedi credentials necessary to figure out Ron Paul’s beliefs on race.
3. December 22: Continuing to ask “How Responsible Is Paul For His Newsletters?”, and continuing to pretend that the words “very responsible” do not exist in the English language, or at least, do not exist in the order I have just written, Sullivan nevertheless begins to feel the heat from readers who obviously and understandably think that when it comes to Ron Paul, the Inspector Javert of Trig Palin’s matrilineal line is Nucking Futs. We are now told that the issue of Paul and the newsletters is “a matter that will require addressing,” though there is a lame attempt to analogize Paul’s rancid newsletter output with Mitt Romney’s membership in the Mormon church. We are reassured that “re-reading and reading the newsletters has made [Sullivan] physically sick,” though at the same time, Sullivan points “to Paul’s open disavowal of those newsletters and absence of anything out of his own mouth that echoes them,” and agrees with a reader who says that Paul’s candidacy “offers the only sharp course corrective to the pressing national issues of runaway government spending, bailout economics, entitlement time-bombs, foreign policy overreach, civil liberties intrusions, and the Drug War. These are not small issues, for me or for the country, and 99 percent of politicians are terrible on them.” Continuing the Jedi theme, Sullivan is in the midst of figuring out that the political equivalent of a Sith Lord is
his father his chosen GOP presidential nominee, though he continues to scream “No! That’s not true! That’s impossible!”
Search your feelings, Andrew. You know it to be true.
4. December 24: In what might have been considered–in isolation–a come-to-
Yoda-Jesus moment, Sullivan “rethinks” the Paul endorsement, and decides to get behind Jon Huntsman instead. Quoth the Padawan of the Daily Beast, “[Huntsman is] what my super-ego tells me is the right choice. My id remains with Ron. But I write with the rational part of my brain, or at least I try to.”
So, we’re done, right? It took him a while, but Sullivan finally did the right thing, right?
5. December 28: Wrong! The ways of the dark side are subtle. Quicker, easier, more seductive is its ways, and once down the dark path you start, forever will it dominate your destiny. Sullivan positively burbles with delight–and does little to hide the burbling–over news that the newsletters are not hurting Paul in Iowa.
6. December 28 (Part Deux): Sullivan tries to contrast Paul favorably with Newt Gingrich. Never mind that during the course of the conversation Gingrich had–the very conversation Sullivan links to–Gingrich, in addition to discussing other differences with Paul, also brought up the newsletters and made clear that they played a significant role in causing him to believe that he could not vote for Paul in any general election contest. Sullivan tries to convince his readership that Paul’s lame disavowals of the newsletters are sufficient to rebut Gingrich’s claim that the newsletters make Paul unacceptable. The kindest interpretation of the mental mess that led to Sullivan’s post is that Jedi mind tricks were being played upon him. But while Sullivan is certainly not the first pick for any team tasked with finding missing droids, that doesn’t change the fact that his effort to rehabilitate Paul–after un-endorsing him, no less!–is becoming increasingly embarrassing.
7. December 30: How desperate is Sullivan to absolve Paul of bigotry? Desperate enough to forgive him for not marching in lockstep with Sullivan over the issue of gay rights. Perhaps in other circumstances, Sullivan’s approval for Paul’s libertarian, federalist stance would be understandable, but if Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, or Sarah Palin took a similar stance, can anyone really doubt that Sullivan would attack them non-stop for disagreeing with him?
8. December 30 (Part Deux): Sullivan’s Quote of the Day offers up uncritical praise for Paul, telling us that he is “honest” (the attempt to claim that Paul knew nothing about his newsletters containing disgusting material would indicate otherwise), and that he is “not just telling us what we have heard before” (the concerted attempts over a number of years to revive old bigotries and promulgate them would indicate otherwise here too).
Paul’s attempt to traffic in gutter racial politics has prompted the unfortunate and unfair charge that to be a libertarian is to be a racist. This is emphatically untrue, and both David Boaz and Ilya Somin make clear that Paul’s decision to disgrace himself is as far removed from the libertarian tradition as one can possibly imagine. But of course, we do not live in a fully just, fully rational world, and thanks to Ron Paul, there will be people who think that most libertarians–if not all of them–run around with white hoods over their heads, and white sheets to match.
And of course, since this is not a fully just, fully rational world, Ron Paul has a fighting chance of winning the Iowa caucus, instead of having himself, and his candidacy laughed out of any enlightened, civilized, decent, intelligent gathering. To add insult to injury, one of the most prominent bloggers around has decided that while any bit of non-evidence will do to lend credence to the absurd proposition that Sarah Palin is not Trig’s biological mother, all of the evidence in the world will not suffice to show that Ron Paul should be found to have shamed himself, and shamed any and all of his supporters with his stance on race.
Nota Bene: I am all for encouraging debate in the comments section. But as one might guess from this long blog post, the issue of Paul’s lack of character and moral fitness for office is a closed question with me. It will be treated as a closed question in the comments. Attempts to justify Paul’s despicable stances and behavior, not to mention his lies regarding the newsletters, will be deleted, and the authors will be banned at my discretion. I like to be open-minded, but not so much that my brains fall out.