The Plank

The Reckoning Over Ron Paul


At this point, it seems that the only people still defending
Ron Paul are the openly bigoted or the comically credulous. For the former, the revelation that Paul had (at best, negligent at worst, complicit)
involvement in the publishing of and profiting from paranoid and bigoted
for over two decades neatly confirms the reasons why they had chosen to support
the Texas Congressman presidential campaign in the first place. For the latter, no amount of
evidence will ever convince them that “Dr. No” is anything less than some saintly,
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” caricature.


Mainstream libertarians almost immediately began to distance
themselves from Paul. Over at Reason,
the flagship libertarian magazine, most writers have denounced him. Editor Emeritus Nick Gillespie wrote that
“It is hugely disappointing that he produced a
cache of such garbage” and said that Paul's (non)-response
to the magazine’s queries about the newsletters is “unsatisfying on about a
thousand different levels.” Radley
Balko writes that he “find[s] the prospect that
Paul never read the newsletter implausible.” Even Brian Doherty, who penned this month’s enthusiastic cover story on Paul, wrote
“his campaign's reaction to this has been politically disastrous and given
the third-rail nature of accusations of racism, Ron Paul's campaign was likely
fatally wounded.” David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, goes beyond the widespread denunciation of the newsletter's content, and judges that Paul cannot be trusted to be president
seeing that his defense has essentially been: “I didn’t know what my closest associates were
doing over my signature, so give me responsibility for the federal government.”


Last week, Reason Editor Matt Welch compiled
a series of newspaper articles demonstrating the heights of Paul’s current
obfuscation over authorship of the newsletters. At several
points in the 1990s’s Paul admitted to writing them. Two weeks ago, his spokesman told me that Paul had granted "various levels of approval" to
what appeared in the newsletters, from "no approval" to instances where
he "actually wrote it himself." Last week, after the most damaging quotes were publicized, Paul denied not just that he had ever wrote for the newsletter, but said that he didn't even know who was writing, editing, or publishing them and that he hardly ever read them. To believe
that Ron Paul had no knowledge of what was being written in his own name, in his own office, for 20 years -- and that he didn't even read his own monthly publication -- not only
“stretches credulity to the breaking point,” it actually requires believing
bald-faced lies.  


Ron Paul is a deeply paranoid man, who has allowed all manner
of racists and lunatics to join him under the general rubric of “libertarianism.”
These supporters did not come out of nowhere; as the newsletters and other
reveal, Ron Paul has consciously been courting
bigots, conspiracy theorists and anti-government militants for decades.
These associations were hardly a secret before last week, and it was long
past time for decent libertarians to disassociate themselves from Paul. It is a
healthy development for both the libertarian movement and American politics that they have begun to do so, however belatedly.


--James Kirchick

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