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More Trouble for Ron Paul:

Pajamas Media and The New Republic have stories about various racist, anti-Semitic, and generally kooky comments that could be found in some old political and investment newsletters published under Ron Paul's name.

I give Paul the benefit of the doubt on this one [if nothing else, he's a savvy politician--you don't get elected to Congress three times as a non-incumbent if you aren't--and these quotes are obviously bad politics], and assume that some right-wing cranks paid him to use him name on their newsletters, and he didn't actually read the newsletters carefully if at all, much less write them. That shows very poor judgment, but is a lot less damning than if he did read, write, or edit these newsletters.

Regardless, it's disturbing in and of itself that the kind of people who write such things would want to associate themselves with Paul's name, and the kind of people who enjoy reading such things would subscribe to these newsletters because they admire Paul.

Yet, as Kirchik in TNR notes, there are really two disparate groups to whom the limited-government message appeals: philosophical libertarians (which consists of a tiny percentage of Americans, but something like 10% are at least inclined toward a general libertarian perspective), and those who hold a deep grudge against the federal government based on a range of nutty conspiracy theories, ranging from old chestnuts like a freemason conspiracy, a Council on Foreign Relations/Bildeberger conspiracy, or a conspiracy to strip the U.S. of its sovereignty in favor of world government; to variations on old anti-Semitic themes (ranging from domination by Zionist conspirators to domination by Jewish bankers led by the Rothchilds to domination by Jews in Hollywood); to newer racist theories; to novel conspiracy theories about 9/11, the pharmaceutical industry, etc.

Mainstream libertarian groups like Cato and Reason have nothing to do with the latter types, but other self-proclaimed libertarian groups, like the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, play footsie with them. (I recently turned down an invitation to do a book review for an academic journal published by LVMI because I don't want my name associated with the Institute.) Paul himself seems to have made a career of straddling the line between respectable libertarian sentiment and conspiracy-mongering nuttiness, receiving support and accolades from both sides.

But now that he wants to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, he can't get away with it anymore. Regardless of his future action, Paul deserves strong criticism for consorting and collaborating with various unsavory characters for so many years. But he could also do liberty-lovers a big favor, and perhaps save his respectability as a viable protest candidate, if he would come out with a very strong statement that he's made some errors in his past associations, but wants to make it clear now that he neither solicits nor welcomes support from racists, neo-Confederates, conspiracy-mongers, anti-Semites, and so forth.

The biggest problem with hoping for such a statement is that I'm not completely convinced that Paul in fact finds support from at least some of these groups entirely unwelcome.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. A damning indictment of Ron Paul:
  2. More Trouble for Ron Paul:
Jweaver (mail) (www):
Even if you are correct and Dr. Paul had nothing to do with this newsletter, it shows a gross lack of common sense and judgment that should preclude any run for higher office. If he cannot control a newsletter with his name on it, how will he be able to lead the various departments in the executive branch? He should drop out today...
1.8.2008 4:53pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
Paul's a kook who's not afraid to speak bluntly about what he thinks. Sometimes he happens to be right, other times he's completely wrong. This is an example of the latter.

Either way, he's not shy about letting everyone know exactly where he stands.
1.8.2008 4:55pm
JimSaco (mail):
As far as I'm concerned, RP's former explanation is "no longer operative". This wasn't a one-off thing from a ghostwriter, that RP didn't see for some reason. At minimum, he knowingly did business with some pretty unsavory characters, for Years.
1.8.2008 4:56pm
gustav (mail):
I'm curious what you think of Austrian economics independent of its proponents' association with cranks (or are the two too deeply intermeshed?).
1.8.2008 4:58pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
It's not the sainted Von Mises's fault that his wife made the mistake of letting Lew Rockwell use his name!

Non-mainstream theories tend to attract cranks. I'm no economics guru, but from what I can tell Austrian economics has made some valuable contributions, but it's a grave mistake to treat Austrian theory, or any other theory, like a religion, as some of its adherents do.
1.8.2008 5:02pm
mordecai (mail):
I'm a zionist, and a non-racist, non-conspiracy buff, "philosphical" libertarian. After reading the list of quotes, I agree that some of them are disturbing. But I can spin most of them in a way that I agree with. I agree with a larger proportion of these statements than those in a typical article/speech by any of the other candidates, so I can still support Paul with a clear conscience.
1.8.2008 5:06pm
anon VC reader 5464657213:
Paul responds with the following press release:

January 8, 2008 5:28 am EST

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA -- In response to an article published by The New Republic, Ron Paul issued the following statement:

"The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

"In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: 'I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.'

"This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

"When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name."

Link to the release
1.8.2008 5:08pm
Orielbean (mail):
for those who enjoy a good chuckle, rense.com is a great site for tinfoil lovers. Some is hilarious, most is disturbing, all looks like the internet, circa 1995 webdesign.
1.8.2008 5:14pm
Archon (mail):
I fail to see how any of these statements are "racist." Sure, his "no holds barred" approach to politial commentary may fall outside mainstream political coventions of decency, but that in no way makes them racist.

Let's examine some of his statements in the context of the times that in which they were published.

AIDS

In the late 80's and early 90's not much was known about HIV/AIDS. There was only one effective anti-viral drug on the market. It was a new disease and research on it was just being published.

There WAS legitimate scientific research that suggested AIDS could be passed along through casual contact. In later years research proved this to be false (although some researchers today do concede that it is still possible but highly unlikely.)

When you have a disease that looks like it could be passed through simple casual contact it is not out of the acceptable realm of possibility that a quarantine might be a good idea. Historically that is one of the major tactics in attempting to control an epidemic. So why not do it with AIDS especially when, at the time, research suggested it was much easier to contract?

Sure, now it seems like victim bashing to suggest that AIDS patients should be quarantined and monitored. But, the situation today is much different then it was in 80s/90s. We now have more drugs to treat the disease and better understand the methods of contraction.

THE CITIES

I guess people are quick to forgot how bad most cities were during the late 80's and early 90's. Crime, murder, rape, robbert, etc. was considered the norm. They were enclaves for welfare receipents, the poor, and the downtrodden that had a beef with society and the government.

This is before the era of increased policing, welfare reform, tax reforms that brough business back into the cities, Guiliani cleaning up New York, etc. and it was bad. I remember travelling to Philadelphia in 1989 and being told the varoius sections of the city (which constituted most of the business district) to avoid after dark. I went back a year ago and now the entire central business district and bordering neighborhoods are considered to be safe.

Remember the riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict and the riots in Detroit and DC. Couple this with the crime and rampant poverty and you have one dreary picture.

All the sudden suggesting that people invest in country vacation homes and move out of the city doesn't seem so crazy.

RACE

Again, people have also forgotten how bad race relations and the tension that racial political issues produced. This was the age of a burgeoning welfare system, speech codes in universities, race riots, and many other horrors.

Most of the legal/legislative questions about affirmative action have been largely settled. But back in 1989 it was a hot button issue. This is before all the Supreme Court cases, before people like Ward Connerly made the moral arguments. In that day, it was considered to be racist to merely be white and oppose affirmative action.

Put yourself in this environment and all the sudden some of Ron Paul's assertions don't seem so crazy.

We are quick to judge statements from a political era long gone by today's standards and doing so is just plain wrong. That is what I fear most pundits will do with these qoutes.
1.8.2008 5:24pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I saw this on Reason last night, and the comments section was wall to wall "Dem evul neocon joos at da New Republik r just trying to bring down Paul. Narg, narg, narg."
1.8.2008 5:28pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I saw this on Reason last night, and the comments section was wall to wall "Dem evul neocon joos at da New Republik r just trying to bring down Paul. Narg, narg, narg."
1.8.2008 5:29pm
Steve E:
While I haven't read _all_ of the cited materials, I must say that while several things are impolitic, and are perhaps mildly offensive, I didn't much that I would consider beyond the pale.

I'm certainly not a RP defender, several of his positions seem more kooky to me than the most "kooky comments" from his newsletters that I could find.

My verdict: very ill-advised things to have associated with ones name, but by-and-large (with perhaps 1 or 2 exceptions) not racist. I don't see a pattern here.
1.8.2008 5:40pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
This January surprise is being released too late for the NH primary. There's some squirrely stuff there, but Kirchick started to lose me when he opened with "Instead, they represent a strain of right-wing libertarianism that views the Civil War as a catastrophic turning point in American history--the moment when a tyrannical federal government established its supremacy over the states" since I pretty much feel that way. (It was well intentioned, and has led to some good, but we continue to ride down a bad slippery slope.)

I lived through a "Hate Whitey Day" -- back then it was called Black Solidarity Day -- so I can understand those fears and those old feelings. I've always felt the federal Martin Luther King Day was tokenism, and a handy litmus test that allowed places like Arizona and New Hampshire to be branded racist. I don't think King is a more desrving American than Washington. (Lincoln either, except for the note above, and there are plenty of other people who have done plenty of good for all Americans.)

South Africa and Zimbabwe certainly have not turned out as prosperous as they could have and should have. (I blame ideology, not race.)

I think he lost me the rest of the way when he said Waco. Of course there are tin-foil-hat folks on that, but I've been disappointed that the official version is still standing.
1.8.2008 6:05pm
Ted Frank (www):
Given that Paul is out there propounding "NAFTA Superhighway" conspiracy theories and issuing anti-immigration ads, I have no question in my mind which of the two camps he cares about more.
1.8.2008 6:14pm
No Paul Supporter:
Cato and Reason may be more properly characterized as libertine than libertarian. It seems to me that the difference between the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, on the one hand, and Cato and Reason, on the other, is not so much one of mainstream v. fringe, but of right-leaning v. left-leaning libertarianism. Ayn Rand was just as hostile to religion/Christianity as the quotes from Paul's newsletters are racist/anti-semitic, if not more so, and same goes for current rhetoric of Cato/Reason.
1.8.2008 6:26pm
D Palmer (mail):

I give Paul the benefit of the doubt on this one [if nothing else, he's a savvy politician--you don't get elected to Congress three times as a non-incumbent if you aren't--and these quotes are obviously bad politics], and assume that some right-wing cranks paid him to use him name on their newsletters, and he didn't actually read the newsletters carefully if at all, much less write them. That shows very poor judgment, but is a lot less damning than if he did read, write, or edit these newsletters.


David, you are far too generous here.

All of these writings appeared in news letters with Ron Paul's name in them. Unless there is some missing context from the newsletters that will somehow repudiate the views expressed, absent a disclaimer from Paul I can only assume that he believed these things and still does.

Even if he no longer does (let's say he has had a Strom Thurmond like change of heart) I can't see how we can risk electing a president who as recently as 10 years ago was part of the moonbat crowd.

Finally, as Doug Adams keeps pointing out on his blog, shouldn't good judgment be one of the primary requirements for becoming president? And a failure to read the words you will be publishing under your name is not "poor judgment" it is monumentally, shockingly, keep you from being elected president poor judgment.
1.8.2008 6:42pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
D. Palmer, to you think Senators Obama, Clinton, and McCain read everything that goes out under their name? If not, then some tempering of your comments is necessary.
1.8.2008 6:48pm
frankcross (mail):
Paulites are humorous. They question the accuracy of the New Republic article. But . . . The Ron Paul campaign did not question the accuracy of the quotatioins from the newsletter. Talk about blinding yourself.
1.8.2008 7:07pm
cirby (mail):

D. Palmer, to you think Senators Obama, Clinton, and McCain read everything that goes out under their name?


It seems nearly impossible that a Washington based politician had these things going out under his name for YEARS without someone pointing out one or another to him or his staff. So either he was clueless at a level seldom seen even in politics, or he actually approved of at least some of those comments.

Neither one of those scenarios are good, and either one of them are 100% reasons to get him the heck out of national politics.
1.8.2008 7:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Oh, he knew that there was "Ron Paul Survival Report." He may have even hired the people who wrote it. But that doesn't mean he actually ever edited or even read it, just like McCain et al don't read the constituent mail, fundraising letters, etc. that go out under their name. The difference is that Paul is the only candidate who entrusted his good name to people with these particular sentiments, and that bears scrutiny in itself.
1.8.2008 7:50pm
byomtov (mail):
to you think Senators Obama, Clinton, and McCain read everything that goes out under their name? If not, then some tempering of your comments is necessary.

Come on. If someone sent out a monthly newsletter, for years, under any of their names, with their approval, I think they would read it occasionally, and object pretty strenuously to stuff they disapproved of.

Do you seriously think Paul never read the newsletter, had no idea what was in it? Have you got a contractor yet for those toll booths you're going to put up on the bridge?
1.8.2008 7:51pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
It's 8:02pm. Paul and Giuliani seem to be tied for 4th place in NH. CNN is showing Giuliani 9%, Paul 8%. Except in the pie chart where his piece doesn't get labeled at all.

The degree to which MSM is treating Paul unfairly makes me think he's worth supporting.
1.8.2008 8:03pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Byom, the commenter wrote: "a failure to read the words you will be publishing under your name is not 'poor judgment' it is monumentally, shockingly, keep you from being elected president poor judgment."

It's fine to be critical of Paul, but that statement would damn EVERY Congressman and Senator.
1.8.2008 8:17pm
American Patriot:
"Do you seriously think Paul never read the newsletter, had no idea what was in it? Have you got a contractor yet for those toll booths you're going to put up on the bridge?"

I suspect that part of the answer is that the offensive comments were just a very small fraction of the content of all newsletters. If you put the 100 most offensive quotes over the course of several decades next to each other, it may read like a Stormfront publication, but on balance the offensive quotes were just occasional. Chances are that Paul also didn't find the quotes nearly as outrageous as most people here do, even when he disagreed with them, since Paul presumably doesn't believe in political correctness.
1.8.2008 8:21pm
jdh (mail) (www):
Cato and Reason may be more properly characterized as libertine than libertarian.

...which is why most of Cato's policy papers are about marijuana, free love, and the repudiation of straight society.

Oh wait, they're actually about peace, civil liberties, and market-oriented economic policies? Well shit!
1.8.2008 8:38pm
byomtov (mail):
David,

If your reaction was based strictly on a literal reading of one sentence of D. Palmer's comment then I concede your point.
1.8.2008 8:41pm
outsidethebeltway (mail):
This attack on the most popular libertarian candidate in living memory demonstrates why libertarian electioneering is futile.

"Libertarians" inside and near the Beltway will never accept a real libertarian like Paul, as that would put most of their federal government employee and contractor friends, and indirectly their lobbyist friends, out on the streets. Any real libertarian is thus a "nutjob", "anti-Semitic", or whatever other dirt the beneath-the-Beltway crowd can throw at him.
1.8.2008 9:56pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yes, that's it, outsidethebeltway. It's not that you're a nutjob; it's that you're a "real libertarian."
1.8.2008 11:24pm
Thoughtful (mail):
David Chesler noted: "It's 8:02pm. Paul and Giuliani seem to be tied for 4th place in NH. CNN is showing Giuliani 9%, Paul 8%. Except in the pie chart where his piece doesn't get labeled at all."

It was even worse during the Iowa returns. On the Democratic pie chart, little 1% and 2% slivers were labeled Biden and Richardson. On the Republican pie chart there were two 13% slices labeled Thompson and McCain and a 14% slice (71% of which, or 10% total, belonged to Paul), left white and blank.

My hunch is that if Paul came in first, there'd be this large blank sector, along with smaller labeled sectors and the pundits would be heatedly discussing the importance of the race between the 2nd and 3rd place candidates without ever bothering to mention who had won.
1.8.2008 11:30pm
RW Rogers:
David, I think you are bending over backward here. At least one edition of these newsletters contains a personal greeting from Paul and his wife. I don't care how busy he was, no politician lets anything containing a personal message go out without first proof-reading the thing. His answers don't pass even a cursory smell test. I'm supposed to suspend the laws of nature and believe that a practiced politician like this allowed his name to be used without ever checking into the details of how or why it was being used? I'm sorry, that really defies common sense.
1.9.2008 12:55am
NickM (mail) (www):
RW - if the newsletter were being written by their former chief of staff, they might.

Nick
1.9.2008 1:13am
David M. Nieporent (www):
David, I think you are bending over backward here. At least one edition of these newsletters contains a personal greeting from Paul and his wife. I don't care how busy he was, no politician lets anything containing a personal message go out without first proof-reading the thing.
Of course they do; I really think you overestimate congressmen.

The problem here is not that Paul necessarily believes these things, but that he trusts the sort of people who do.
1.9.2008 2:08am
Mark F. (mail):
It's more than amusing that many people here are appalled at Paul but are not appalled at all by the horrible candidates running in the GOP. All others except Mc Cain support torture and all others support the murderously evil war in Iraq, the war on drugs, big government and American Imperialism. But being associated with a few unfortunate racist and homophobic comments is apparantly a hanging offense with some people.
1.9.2008 4:09am
Mark F. (mail):
I wonder: How many innocent people did Mc Cain kill in his bombing runs over Viet Nam? But forget that---a 20 year old newsletter is more evil.
1.9.2008 4:13am
Thoughtful (mail):
Mark F,

There is an old phrase, "for reasons of state," that allows people to forgive, ignore, or frequently applaud actions that, if taken by individuals in any other context, would be universally recognized as abhorrent. Dropping bombs and depriving peaceful people of their liberty are among them.

Having said that, I very much wish libertarianism had a better spokesman than Ron Paul. I still think he's the best candidate to vote for, though the thought of not bothering to vote is becoming ever more rational and aesthetically pleasing.
1.9.2008 10:58am
RW Rogers:
The problem here is not that Paul necessarily believes these things, but that he trusts the sort of people who do.

That's probably true, David.

Of course they do; I really think you overestimate congressmen.

In my personal experience with politicians and their staff over the last 30 years, I don't think I am by all that much, although proof-reading was a bad choice to describe what they do. I can't think of a single one who did not at least eyeball a mass mailing or newsletter before it went out, simply because anything mailed to a wide audience generates a response, either in writing or in conversation. And politicians tend to be extremely adverse to surprises, particularly at public appearances. Dr. Paul ranks as the most incurious politician I've ever heard of if he never read any of the mail generated in response to his newsletter or wondered at some of the off-the-wall comments those mailings would have caused to be voiced at his public engagements. I find it hard to believe that no one ever brought up the newsletters in any of his personal appearances at the time. All the politicians I know would have grabbed their nearest staff person and growled, "What the Hell was that loon talking about?" just after ordering them to "Get me out of here."

Aside to Mark F: As the thread is about Ron Paul, it is no surprise that people are talking about him and not the GOP field. It wasn't set up as a thread to compare the relative merits and demerits of the GOP field. That said, all of the comments on this thread by the apologists for the other candidates must have spontaneously combusted once you made yours because they don't seem to be here now. Hmmm. Maybe the Trilateral Commission arranged that. Or that cabal of bankers in Zurich. Oh, I know, it was George Soros....
1.9.2008 3:19pm