The case against Ron Paul

Conservative blogger Michael Gerson accuses Ron Paul of trying to completely undo the legacy of the Republican party and gives a litany of reasons to oppose him:

No other recent candidate hailing from the party of Lincoln has accused Abraham Lincoln of causing a “senseless” war and ruling with an “iron fist.” Or regarded Ronald Reagan’s presidency a “dramatic failure.” Or proposed the legalization of prostitution and heroin use. Or called America the most “aggressive, extended and expansionist” empire in world history. Or promised to abolish the CIA, depart NATO and withdraw military protection from South Korea. Or blamed terrorism on American militarism, since “they’re terrorists because we’re occupiers.” Or accused the American government of a Sept. 11 “coverup” and called for an investigation headed by Dennis Kucinich. Or described the killing of Osama bin Laden as “absolutely not necessary.” Or affirmed that he would not have sent American troops to Europe to end the Holocaust. Or excused Iranian nuclear ambitions as “natural,” while dismissing evidence of those ambitions as “war propaganda.” Or published a newsletter stating that the 1993 World Trade Center attack might have been “a setup by the Israeli Mossad,” and defending former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and criticizing the “evil of forced integration.”

Each of these is a disqualifying scandal. Taken together, a kind of grandeur creeps in. The ambition of Paul and his supporters is breathtaking. They wish to erase 158 years of Republican Party history in a single political season, substituting a platform that is isolationist, libertarian, conspiratorial and tinged with racism. It won’t happen. But some conservatives seem paradoxically drawn to the radicalism of Paul’s project. They prefer their poison pill covered in glass and washed down with battery acid. It proves their ideological manhood.

via Ron Paul’s quest to undo the party of Lincoln – The Washington Post.

Those of you who support Paul, is it true that he holds these positions?  (I don’t think they are all  from his ghostwritten newsletters.)  If so, do you agree with them?

Ron Paul’s baggage

As a Virginian, my only choices in the Republican primary are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul–the other candidates having failed to get on the ballot–so I am studying these candidates closely.  There would be a certain coolness factor in voting for Paul.  But I’ve got to figure out what I think about his newsletters of a couple of decades ago, with their racist and anti-semitic vibe, as well as his associations with the off-the-wall right.

I know some of you have been discussing this on the “Why I Can’t Vote for Gingrich or Perry” thread, but it deserves its own post.  Paul and his fans have been dismissing the issue as “old news” brought up and answered a long time ago, but lots of us are new to the Ron Paul world, and he had better believe this will be an issue throughout the election.  Here is a summary of what’s out there:

Ron Paul reiterated Tuesday that he did not write a series of newsletters that appeared under his name in the 1980s and 1990s that included controversial comments about African-Americans, including a claim that “[o]rder was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

Asked by CBS News and National Journal if the newsletters are fair game on Tuesday in New Hampshire, Paul responded, “I don’t know whether fair is the right word.”

“I mean, it’s politics,” he continued. “Nobody talked about it for 20 years until they found out that the message of liberty was making progress. And everybody knows I didn’t write them, and it’s not my sentiment, so it’s sort of politics as usual.”

Writing in The New Republic in 2008, reporter James Kirchick revealed some particularly incendiary passages from the monthly newsletters, which carried names like “Ron Paul’s Freedom Report” and the “Ron Paul Political Report.” Many of the newsletters, which were mostly written in the first person and usually didn’t otherwise carry a byline, were reportedly being held in collections of extreme-right political literature.

The newsletters included a criticism of Ronald Reagan for legislation creating a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., who is described as a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” and “seduced underage girls and boys.”

“We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day,” one newsletter said of Reagan, according to Kirchick. The newsletters also claimed that AIDS sufferers “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick,” expressed support for and offered advice to the “local militias now training to defend liberty” shortly before the Oklahoma City bombing, and questioned whether the 1993 World Trade Center bombing “was a setup by the Israeli Mossad.”

Kirchick revisited the newsletters in the Weekly Standard on Tuesday, writing that “Paul’s lucrative and decades-long promotion of bigotry and conspiracy theories, for which he has yet to account fully, and his continuing espousal of extremist views…should make him unwelcome at any respectable forum.”

Kirchick tied the newsletters to Paul’s willingness to appear on the radio program of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has reportedly accused the government of encouraging “homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.” He noted that Paul seemed open to Jones’ suggestion that the military’s NORTHCOM combatant command is “taking over” the nation.

Paul denied his involvement with the newsletters back in 2008, saying the controversial comments “are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed.”

“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,” he said. “For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”

via Ron Paul disavows racist newsletters under his name – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

Paul disavows this kind of talk today, so good for him.  His claim that he didn’t know what was going into his newsletters, though, strains credulity.   It reminds me of the NBA star (I think it was Charles Barkley) who complained about how he was portrayed in the media, referring to his own autobiography.  At the best it would be an outlandish use of ghostwriters, something else I don’t approve of.  But even if he weren’t paying attention, as he claims, I would think that his readers would rise up if the newsletters they had subscribed to under the Ron Paul brand were misrepresenting what they assume he stood for.  (“But we know Dr. Paul admires Martin Luther King [as he now says], so how could he say such things about him?”)  Perhaps he could say that he used to classify people unfairly, but now he has learned to apply the principles of liberty to people of all races and ethnicity.  Something like that.

Then there is his giving a speech to the John Birch Society, the organization that during the cold war interpreted everything in terms of a vast communist conspiracy and that William F. Buckley read out of the conservative movement.  And those kind words for right-wing militias.

The question is, is Ron Paul a right wing extremist?  Now, normally there is a big difference between libertarianism and right wing extremism.  The latter tends to be highly nationalistic.  Libertarians tend to be tolerant of things like flag burning and joining the communist party, expressions of liberty that true rightwingers would be glad to outlaw.

Again, Paul denies that he holds those views in the newsletters.  But then again, John Birchers in their heyday believed that even seemingly good leaders were actually communist infiltrators.  Since they think like that, don’t we need to make sure that they aren’t foisting off a Manchurian candidate of their own?  Sorry–all these conspiracy theories have got me thinking like that!

At any rate, my mind needs to be put at rest about these issues.  I am open to persuasion.  You Paul supporters, help me out here.

Why I can’t vote for Gingrich or Perry

Because they weren’t organized enough to get the petitions signed to get on the Virginia primary ballot!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has failed to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 Republican primary, a development that complicates his bid to win the GOP presidential nomination.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10K signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday on its Twitter website.

Perry also fell short of the 10,000 signatures of registered voters required for a candidate’s name to be on the primary ballot, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot.

State GOP spokesman Garren Shipley said volunteers spent Friday validating petitions that the four candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the State Board of Elections. Shipley was not available early Saturday to discuss the announcement posted on the website.

Failing to get on the ballot will be a major setback for Gingrich, who has tried to use his recent upsurge in popularity to make up for a late organizing start. Ironically, Gingrich had a slight lead over Romney, with others farther back, in a Quinnipiac poll of Virginia Republicans released earlier in the week.

The load of catching up on organizing work and a lack of advertising money to counter an onslaught of negative ads from his rivals have been major disadvantages.

Gingrich had to leave New Hampshire on Wednesday and race to Virginia, where he needed 10,000 valid voters’ signatures to secure a spot on the ballot.

He said Wednesday he had enough ballot signatures, but he wanted to come to Virginia to deliver them personally. Taking no chances, his volunteers asked everyone to sign petitions before entering Gingrich’s rally Wednesday night in Arlington, just across the Potomac River from Washington.

Gingrich’s early-December rise in several polls gave him renewed hopes of carrying his campaign deep into the primary season. Failure to compete in Virginia, which is among the “Super Tuesday” primaries, would deal a huge blow to any contender who had not locked up the nomination by then.

The state party’s Shipley said the party was validating petitions the candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the state elections board. It began validating signatures Friday morning.

The 10,000 registered voters must also include 400 signatures from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

It was unclear if Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman submitted petitions to the state board.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s Democrats said President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign gathered enough signatures to get him on the state’s primary ballot though he was the only candidate who qualified.

via Gingrich, Perry fail to make Va. ballot – CBS News.

Why you need an organization–and to be organized–to run for president!

UPDATE:  Bachman, Santorum, and Huntsman also failed to turn in enough petition signatures.   So my only choice will be between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul!

Gingrich, who is a resident of Virginia, is complaining that the state’s requirements are too onerous.  But in the last presidential primary in 2008 all six of the major Republican candidates made the ballot.  This just reinforces the impression that we have a competence problem in the current slate of candidates.

Gingrich is calling for a write-in campaign.  Too bad they are illegal in primary elections in Virginia.  Something else he should have known.  The state has 50 delegates, making it a big Super Tuesday prize, which will now go to either Romney or Paul.

I wonder if similar surprises await in other primary states.

Which of those two would you vote for?

Ron Paul, uniter

American politics is polarized.   Our government is in a state of paralysis.  Conservatives, liberals, and moderates are at each other’s throats.  National unity is no more.   And yet, I see a presidential candidate who might be able to bring the country together:  Ron Paul.

He has the support of the Tea Party dissidents on the right who yearn for a more limited, more constitutional government.  But he also has significant support from the Occupy Wall Street dissidents on the left for his criticism of big corporations and the banking interests.   And yet he appeals to business folks as a free market purist.  He is pro-life, which is enough to satisfy lots of social conservatives (and he would certainly appoint “original intent” judges).  He is also anti-war, which attracts lots of liberals disillusioned with Obama’s war machine.  Above all, he has appeal to the vast internet subculture, which, as observers have noted, is essentially libertarian.

Whether or not you want him as president–and please don’t confuse my mental experiments on this blog for my own endorsements–could it be that Dr. Paul or someone with an ideology like his shows the way to bring this country together again?

How about Ron Paul, after all?

With one after another Republican presidential candidates rising to the top, then flaming out, it is time to seriously consider Ron Paul.

He’s libertarian, but he’s also pro-life, a devout Christian by all accounts (raised Lutheran, no less,  in the ELCA, but now Baptist–from an LCMS point of view, is it better to be a liberal Lutheran or a conservative Baptist?).  Anyway, he is anti-war (conservatives now taking the lead in that department).  No one doubts his commitment to small government.  Yes, he believes in legalizing drugs and prostitution, but would you take that in return for what else he offers?

I know some of you are already Ron Paul fans.  (Feel free to state your case.)  Would the rest of you now consider him?

The Christian right’s candidate: Ron Paul?

The Values Voters Summit is a convention of Christian political activists that takes place in Washington, D. C., each year.  This weekend the various Republican presidential candidates came hat in hand.  After their presentations, a straw poll was conducted.  The winner with 37% of the vote?  Ron Paul.

Such a large percentage of Christian conservatives are favoring the libertarian who wants to legalize drugs and prostitution?  Some are saying the poll was skewed by Paul supporters who crashed the party.  And yet, I can see this.  I know quite a few Christian political activists and a lot of them, including some on this blog, favor Paul.

What I am seeing is that the Christian right, political ideology, and politics itself are all getting more complicated than they used to be.  And that’s a good thing.

Values Voter straw poll organizers suggest a fix in Ron Paul’s win – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

Romney’s Mormonism – Washington Post


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