Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What's interesting about the TNR expose ...

... is its timing.

If The New Republic had published its article and excerpts from Ron Paul's newsletters a month ago, Duncan Hunter would have outpolled Paul in Iowa. If they had published those excerpts last Friday, Paul would have polled low single digits in New Hampshire today.

Why did TNR choose to run their story on the day when Paul is likely to turn in the best performance of his GOP presidential campaign before the dirt hits the public consciousness? Elementary, my dear Watson: It's not Paul they're after ... it's the Republican Party.

When Paul was still a "minor, bottom tier" candidate, this would have ended his campaign (assuming he has sense enough to pour piss out of a boot), but it wouldn't have hurt the GOP. But with a credible 10% performance in Iowa under his belt (hint: Bill Clinton polled 3% there in 1992) and a likely 2nd- or 3rd-place finish in New Hampshire tonight, he's fast becoming a credible representative of his party to the public ... and thus any damage to him is going to impact the whole Republican field. And hey, I'm down with that -- if Paul's campaign increases the GOP's drain-circling velocity, that's a good thing.

On the other hand, the GOP is big enough to absorb a certain amount of this. The Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement will take less damage, but we're also more fragile and less able to absorb and recover from it. And, well, it's disgusting to find a party and a movement I love dragged down into this muck.

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way: I told you so. You don't have to believe me when I say I'm not gloating, but I'm not gloating. I wish that my fellow libertarians had listened to me earlier, if for no other reason than that the necessary damage control would have been much less difficult if so many libertarians hadn't worked so hard to propel the Paul bandwagon down the road toward this, its ultimate destination.

For one thing, when I first brought up the problems with Paul, the Libertarian National Committee hadn't yet abandoned its fiduciary duty to the LP and violated the trust of the LP's members by endorsing Paul as a prospective LP presidential candidate. Now we have an official, if illicit, association that needs to be, um, dissociated. And that's not going to be easy, even if the LNC has the collective common sense to be teleconferencing right now on an emergency motion to withdraw its "invitation" to Paul.

Unfortunately, I'm not as good at repairing ships as I am at pointing out the goddamn icebergs before we hit them. I'll do what I can to help, but frankly I don't know what that is.

For those who have been sticking their fingers in their ears, screwing their eyes shut, and screaming "anything bad that might be said about Ron Paul is absolutely NOT true," well, I guess you'll probably continue to do so. Here's hoping you're good enough at it by now to not even notice how suddenly your victory parade float departed the roadway and rolled right over into the dustbin of history.

For those of you who are interested in the truth, I've plucked three teaser quotes from TNR's excerpts. Don't bitch at me about "context." I've already given you the link. If you don't believe me, go look at the source material for yourself already. You should anyway.

From the March 1990 issue [PDF] of Paul's newsletter:

Even absent Christianity (or AIDS), natural law proves that sexuality ought to be restricted to marriage (between a man and a woman, I guess I have to say these days.) Approval of anything else means societal disintegration.

From the June 1990 issue [PDF]:

As Congressman Bill Dannemeyer (R-CA) noted, "it's a tragic message being sent," that normality and deviance are equal. I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.

From the November 1990 issue [PDF]:

[David] Duke carried baggage from his past, but the voters were willing to overlook that. And if he had been afforded the forgiveness an ex-communist gets, he might have won. Liberals like Richard Cohen of the Washington Post say he got so many votes because Louisianians were racist and ignorant. Baloney.

This last one does raise some interesting questions. It seems to imply that as of 1989, Paul (or Paul's ghostwriter) believed Duke to have abandoned his past as a neo-Nazi, Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, etc. and become "mainstream." But ... as of 1989-90, Duke continue to be (and so far as I know, remains to this very day) associated with the post-Klan racist organization he founded in 1980, the "National Association for the Advancement of White People." Was Paul (or Paul's ghostrwiter) naive, lacking in basic research skills, or c) knowingly deceptive on this point?

For some time (until I found evidence of Paul's voluntary positive interactions with at least one racist organization, as a matter of fact), I defended Paul against allegations of an association with Duke, using the "one-way street" argument, i.e. that just because Duke reprinted Paul's (free-for-the-reprinting) column, that didn't mean that Paul in any way condoned or endorsed Duke.

Part of the extension of that argument in the context of Paul's presidential campaign, of course, has been that Paul had no reason to publicly disavow Duke, since there was no evidence that he had ever condoned Duke. Oops.

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