The Day's Other Political Headline
There were three major political headlines on Tuesday. Two hailed the "comebacks" of Hillary Clinton and John McCain, after their victories in the New Hampshire primary. The third headline, which has received less attention (at least, from the MSM) signals the end of Ron Paul as a legitimate presidential candidate.
In case you haven't heard, James Kirchick of The New Republic has a devastating article on Dr. Paul which, quite frankly, casts him as a bigot, anti-Semite and a homophobe--or, at the very least, puts him in the company of those who espouse such views. It's quite a contrast to the man that ABC's Jake Tapper described as "the one true straight-talker in the race."
Paul's views on race, homosexuality, Israel and other issues can be found in past issues of his newsletters, published monthly since the late 1970s. The publications have appeared under various titles, including Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Guide and The Ron Paul Investment Letter. At one point in the mid-1980s, the newsletter claimed 100,000 readers. A decade later, it reportedly had 7,000 subscribers.
Given TNR's past problems with accuracy--the Scott Beauchamp scandal is merely the latest case-in-point--it would be easy to question the veracity of their Paul expose. But Kirchick tracked down print copies of the Paul newsletters in the University of Kansas library and at the Wisconsin Historial Society. There is no doubt that the newsletters are the genuine, and the views they present are disturbing. Some sample excerpts, which appear on TNR's website:
From a 1992 issue that followed the Los Angeles riots:
"Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. ... What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided."
In December 1990, a Paul newsletter described Dr. Martin Luther King as a "world-class adulterer" who seduced underage girls and boys.
Over the years, various Paul publications had equally disparaging remarks on gays, Jews, and the nation of Israel, which was described (in a 1987 issue of the investment newsletter) as "an aggressive, national socialist state." An undated solicitation letter for the same newsletter railed against "an Israeli lobby that plays Congress like a cheap harmonica."
None of the articles are signed, so it's impossible to know how much of this "material" was written by the candidate himself. But, since all of these items appeared on publications bearing Paul's name, he bears ultimate responsibility for their content. Moreover, many of the "articles" are written in first person, suggesting that the comments came directly from Dr. Paul.
Equally curious is the Paul campaign's tepid response to the article--and those disturbing newsletter quotes. The candidate's chief spokesman, Jesse Benton, told Mr. Kirchick that, over the years, Paul granted "various levels of approval" to what appeared in his publications--ranging from "no approval" to instances where he "actually wrote it himself." Benton denied that Paul had any hand in composing the most incendiary material, including comments on Martin Luther King.
Still, as Kirchik observes, it's hard to believe that Dr. Paul would allow such comments to appear in his newsletters--for more than two decades--if he didn't agree with them. Claims that Paul wasn't aware of what appeared in his newsletters (and was marginally involved in the editorial process) simply don't wash.
Those racist, anti-gay and anti-Semitic nuggets from various Paul newsletters may also explain the candidate's indifferent response to revelations of support among white supremacists and a contribution from one of their leaders. Last November, Andrew Walden of The American Thinker was among the first to report that white hate groups were coalescing behind the Texas Congressmen, and that Paul had received a $500 donation from Don Black, the president of Stormfront.org, a well-known Neo-Nazi group.
After a month of deliberations, the Paul campaign finally announced that it would keep Black's contribution. Spokesman Benton said that the candidate would use the money to "help spread his message of freedom." Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters found that explanation both laughable--and deplorable:
Sorry, but that doesn't sell. It's one thing to get a donation from a neo-Nazi; after all, Paul didn't solicit it. It's another thing entirely to keep the money after its source becomes clear. Keeping the money makes it look like the campaign approves of the source, and that is a very, very bad message to send when one is bragging about the success of recent money-bomb events.
What kind of money will Ron Paul refuse? Drug money? Extortion rackets? Mob skim? Those are the questions people will want answered. Paul's response does not give confidence in the judgment of his campaign, and by extension its candidate.
The newsletter quotes should remove any doubts about Dr. Paul's claim to be a serious presidential contender. Decades of bigoted comments--appearing under his name--represent a rather damning body of work. Beneath that "straight talk" exterior, Ron Paul appears to be little more than a hate-monger.
Finally, there's the matter of the MSM (and yes, the blogosphere) ignoring this story angle. Anti-black comments from a Paul newsletter first became an issue in a 1996 Congressional race, but his aides claimed that someone else wrote them. The New York Times magazine (and other outlets) bought that explanation, "since the style diverges widely from his own." So, no one bothered to research Dr. Paul's publications until Mr. Kirchik took a look.
As to why, there are at least three explanations. First, many reporters--and bloggers--are basically lazy, reluctant to do any serious digging. Secondly, Paul's anti-war position made him a media darling, and many were reluctant to tarnish his image. Finally, other representatives of the old and new media view Dr. Paul as someone worth propping up, reinforcing perceptions of the GOP as a party of bigots and extremists.