What Ron Paul Is Guilty Of

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 22 2011 @ 12:16pm

Paul talks about his newsletters starting around 1:52:

TNC responds to my thoughts on the Ron Paul newsletters:

[L]et us grant Ron Paul all the charity we can muster and say that he, in fact, did not write any of this. Let us also dismiss the fact that this alleged someone else (Lew Rockwell) remains in Paul's orbit. Having granted that charity, let us "flip it," and ask what we would think of Barack Obama who, under his own name, published such racism directed at whites and HIV. How seriously would we take the "He didn't actually write it–he just published it" defense? Would we really be so forgiving? 

Or would we say, as we should, that this sort of thing is fit for an NOI mosque, but not for the White House? Perhaps we would be completely generous and grant that Obama was not, as Andrew puts it, "a big racist." But would this not, still, raise troubling questions of incompetence? How could we justify handing off the launch codes to a man so careless with his very name?

I could not. You need not be a racist to be disqualified for the presidency; a truly stunning level of incompetence will do in a pinch. 

TNC also flags the above video of Paul talking about the newsletters in 1995:

Yesterday Ron Paul claimed on CNN that he'd never read the newsletters that went out in his name. Here is Ron Paul in a 1995 video discussing the very newsletters he claims to never have read. 

If you can find away to explain away a hateful newsletter written in someone's own name, it's likely you can find some way to explain this video away too. There's always a path to make yourself right, if that's your intent. Indeed, at this point it probably behooves me to stop arguing.

But I would ask you suffer me one final point: Dave Wiegel convincingly argues that Paul isn't a bigot, simply part of coalition who saw bigotry as a potent political force. This is meant as a defense. In fact it's an unwittingly damning indictment, that puts Ron Paul in ugly tradition of non-racist demagogues

One might ask: which current Republican candidate has not been "part of coalition who saw bigotry as a potent political force"? And one might also ask: which other Republican candidate has actually taken a stand on the racial dimensions of the drug war, and on not scapegoating American Muslims? Which other Republican candidate has actually stood up for minorities against the establishment? I'll have more later on what I view as TNC's missing the forest for the trees in this Republican primary race. But meanwhile, more airing of the newsletter stuff. And it should be aired. Tod Kelly, who likes Paul quite a bit, can't bring himself to vote for the guy. The newsletters are one reason:

I realize that they were written 15-20 years ago, but Paul is 76 – which means that the newsletters in question were written in his mid- to late-50s and are therefore harder for me to write off as youthful ignorance. Yes, I also know that it is very unlikely that Paul himself wrote most or any of the newsletters. However, it appears that for some number of years he was willing to have some unknown number of subscribers believe that they were his thoughts; I find arguments that he had no idea what was in them don’t pass my sniff test. Lastly, it is hard not to note that in just about every response to these statements over the years Paul disclaims authorship and notes the passage of time, but never really seems to distance himself from the actual ideas.

Chait piles on:

Let’s stipulate that Paul didn’t write any of those items. He still published a racist newsletter. If Larry Flynt were running for president, I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t care that much that he did not personally take the photographs that appeared in Hustler.

A blogger at I Talk You Bored challenges me to read a Ron Paul letter entitled "Blast 'Em," which provides advice on how to shoot "urban youth" carjackers using a disposable, shadily acquired weapon. I'll respond in due course.