In Defense of Ron Paul
I'm just about the last guy in the world anyone would expect to come to Ron Paul's aid, which is precisely why I should do it in this case. But this hit piece in The New Republic is just that -- a hit piece.
The gist of James Kirchick's great big exclusive pile of muck is that Paul is a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, cheats at solitaire and doesn't always courtesy flush when doing the deuce in public bathrooms. And you have to admit, there's some pretty damning stuff in the article, most of it culled from Paul's old newsletter from decades ago.
Fact of the matter is, Paul's newsletter was ghostwritten. And, when Paul found out what was getting printed with his name on it, he put an end to it. But there's no news here -- this particular story had been brought up, and promptly debunked, months ago. Why TNR is suddenly treating it as news is anyone's guess, especially if anyone's initials happen to be "Primary Voter."
There's also the case of a $500 campaign donation from the neo-Nazi Stormfront group which Paul accepted and declined to return. I would find Stormfront's money too tainted to touch. However, Paul does make a certain, mercenary sense when he argues that [wildly paraphrasing from memory], hey, the stupid people have $500 less and we have $500 more. In fact, I took a look at a lot of this same stuff while writing a anti-Paul cover story for The New Individualist back in October [Jan/Feb issue], and concluded that I had to take Paul at his word on this one, even if "he doesn't always make it easy."
Do I think Paul should have shown better judgement in hiring and firing writers? You bet. Would I take money from avowed racists? No way. Then again, I've always found Paul's judgement to be suspect, on those few occasions where it wasn't just plain old wrong.
All that said, Paul has publicly praised -- in his own, non-ghostwritten words -- Martin Luther King, Jr and Mohammed Ali. And, again in his own words, Paul has denounced racism as "simply an ugly form of collectivism." Now it's no secret that you'll find a lot of closeted (and not-so-closeted) racists in Paul's legion of fans. Just check out the comments over here. But there are nutcases of every stripe attached to Team Paul. He's like the pied piper of Arkham Asylum.
Fact is, Ron Paul is a lot of things. He's a conspiracy-theory nut, a gold fetishist, and an old-fashioned populist phony posing as a defender of liberty and the Constitution. What he's not is a racist.
ONE OTHER THING: By dredging up all these old and debunked issues -- and not looking even one step past them even on Google -- The New Republic has proved it hasn't learned a thing from the Stephen Glass or Scott Beauchamp affairs. TNR is just a stupid, lying magazine that doesn't care one whit about its own reputation or your intelligence.
UPDATE: A more reasonable magazine actually bothered to talk to Paul in response to TNR.
UPDATE: As I said, Paul's judgement is suspect even on a good day, and today was maybe his worst. It sucks though that his campaign was destroyed by cheap shots, instead of taking on the worst parts of his platform directly.