Tue 8 Jan 2008
This is pretty disturbing. The New Republic has unearthed more than a dozen back issues of Ron Paul’s newsletter that are filled with bigoted commentary. Up to now, the only reliable evidence of bigotry on Paul’s part was a single article about the LA riots that made some insensitive comments about black men. I was willing to believe his story that the article was ghost-written and didn’t represent Paul’s views. But now I’ve got more than a dozen examples, of Paul (or an unnamed ghostwriter) expressing racist, anti-gay, or paranoid opinions. (It appears that the “anti-semitic” rap is that he doesn’t like the state of Israel, which is a rather different thing) For example, this unsigned blurb is charming:
A mob of black demonstrators, led by the “Rev.” Al Sharpton, occupied and closed the Statue of Liberty recently, demanding that New York be renamed Martin Luther King City “to reclaim it for our people.”
Hmm. I hate to agree with the Rev. Al, but maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis?
But Al, the Statue of Liberty? Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house.
That was in 1990. The infamous LA riots article was from 1992. TNR has four more like it published during that same period. Are we supposed to believe that Paul had someone ghost-writing his newsletter for 2 years without noticing the tone of the material he wrote?
It’s striking that the vast majority of the offensive material appeared between 1986 and 1995—that is, in the period between his first and second stints in Congress. It makes me suspect that Paul might not be as clueless as he lets on. I suspect that when he left Congress in 1985 after failing to gain a Senate seat, he didn’t expect to be a political candidate again, and so he felt less of a need to hide views that might be a political liability. Then, after the Republican revolution of 1994 rekindled his interest in serving in Congress, his newsletters conveniently stopped being so controversial in time for his successful 1996 Congressional campaign.
Paul’s 5th-place finish in New Hampshire, the state where he was supposed to exceed expectation, confirms that we’re in no danger of a Ron Paul nomination. So I’m not sure how much Paul’s sordid past matters. The Paul campaign matters because it signals that there’s a significant constituency for a small-government, populist, anti-war message. That’s a positive development even if the messenger isn’t an appealing individual. But it’s still troubling to have probably the most high-profile self-described libertarian politician in the country be a closet racist and homophobe.