I gave praise to Mr. Sullivan yesterday for retracting his Ron Paul endorsement. That he did so took courage, for no one wants to admit they may be wrong, and because he shares some key principles with the man, such as an end to extravagant military excursions and prison for drug possession. I do not make these refutations to pick a fight, but because I think any defenses or points in favor of Paul should be responded to. I think there is a dangerous aspect to Paul that is not there in say, Rick Santorum, not because some of the policy ideas he and Mr. Sullivan share are poor or destructive, but because some of them are very good, which causes advocates to ignore all other aspects of the man’s character and policy because of the quality of some proposals.
I see Paul as a sort of strange twin to George W. Bush. While Paul is portrayed as a stark contrast to Bush in foreign policy and domestic spending, the same impulsive, impatient broad statements and ideas, unqualified by in-depth analysis or examination is there in Paul’s writings (with the newsletters, in terms of writing style and ideas, they fit in very well with), the same stubborn, superficial approach is there in Paul as it was in Bush. This is the case in Paul, whether it be his economic ideas, his Trilateralist ravings, or his theory that FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to take place to further his own ambitions. Before, An Epic Grand Overseas Adventure and Faith Based Initiatives were great ideas, a refreshing contrast to the debauched and ambitionless Clinton years, that were to be embraced, never mind the details. Now, A Gold Standard, A Razing of All Programs Home And Abroad, An End To The Fed are great ideas that are to be endorsed, never mind the details.
A small note: a decade ago, Bush also presented himself as a humble, consistent, plain-spoken man from small-town america, a fine contrast to the know-it-all elites.
The following appeared in Mr. Sullivan’s blog over the past week.
Ron Paul, “Bigot”
A video that attempts to present an image of Paul counter to that of the one in the newsletters.
A man arrives at a hospital with his pregnant wife who needs medical care. They do not receive it because of their race. The police are called, but Ron Paul suddenly appears and delivers the baby, though it’s still-born.
I find it strange that Mr. Sullivan, and others, seem to think those who are occasionally malicious, callous, or cruel towards someone because of their race are old-time Hollywood villains who twirl their mustaches while cackling of their evil plans, tossing babies onto railroad tracks and running down women. History is filled with those of one skin color who’ve been very genial with people of another skin color, and who will also be fine with occasionally hurting some by selling them substandard housing or medicine, because they are a lesser kind of people, or maybe just because they have less ability to resort to the law, the police, and power overall, for help.
Let us be clear what Paul, a champion of accountability is being praised for in this commercial: doing his job. To quote Chris Rock, “Do you want a fucking cookie?” Had he not done so, and there was the same accountability expected of doctors for all patients, he would be fired, if not sued for negligence.
Were Paul President, and the ideas he has championed in the past were implemented, I assume we would have entirely private hospitals. Those private hospitals could legally, again, consistent with Paul’s explicitly stated beliefs – not those still under question in his newsletters, but in Freedom Under Siege – refuse treatment for this black couple, on the grounds of their race, or whatever grounds they wanted.
The ad ends with this voice-over:
He’s just an honest man, which is something we need in this day and time. There’s a lot of politics and no honesty. When you have honesty, people will do anything to blot you out. And that’s what people will try to do with him, is blot him out. Because he will be honest.
So, when publications that Paul profited from are brought up, which contain instructions on how to kill a black man and get away with it, which Paul has freely admitted to being involved in, then later denied it, and now refuses to even answer any questions on, those who brought up the material will be chastised for persecuting him for his honesty.
The Gays Are Not So Upset
Weigel wonders why the homophobia in the newsletters hasn’t gotten much attention. Wise words from Dan Savage:
There is no comparing Paul and Santorum, said Savage, because Paul is a leave-us-alone libertarian. “Ron is older than my father, far less toxic than Santorum, and, as he isn’t beloved of religious conservatives, he isn’t out there stoking the hatreds of our social and political enemies,” he explained. “And Ron may not like gay people, and may not want to hang out with us or use our toilets, but he’s content to leave us the fuck alone and recognizes that gay citizens are entitled to the same rights as all other citizens. Santorum, on the other hand, believes that his bigotry must be given the force of law. That’s an important difference.”
Agreed. The attempt by the left and the neocon right to make Paul out to be the real bigot in this race is gob-smacking. Maybe one reason the gays are not so upset is because they have a better idea of what is threatening to them than Dave Weigel. (The exception is Jamie Kirchick, but he is as motivated by Israeli issues as gay ones).
I’ve been busy this year, so I may have missed the election of Dan Savage to the position of President Of All Homosexuals. I don’t think Savage has ever made the claim, nor would he, to speak for all gay men and women, though that appears to be the position given him here. I read Savage stating his opinion, and only his opinion, in the Weigel piece, with no dissenting or supporting opinions of other gay men and women. That they are entirely in accord with Savage is an assumption that Mr. Sullivan makes, and which I do not.
I’m critical of Ron Paul because publishing such things as an article about how to kill a black man and get away with it disgusts me. I do not assign him a role as the real bigot, as if this were a final place in a reality show contest, but rather, think it’s the simple obvious duty of skeptical thinkers to point out such things as this man’s profiting from racial paranoia, his encouragement of the quarantine of those with HIV and AIDS, and his support for the removal of legal protections that might prevent those with HIV or AIDS from being fired simply because they had the disease. I point these things out because of my belief in their inherent importance and a skeptical approach to all politicians, not from some larger goal to select Mitt Romney over Paul, and not because I’m an agent for Mossad.
The Newsletters Issue Bombs In Iowa
In the week since the scandal emerged, Paul’s favorable numbers among Democrats have gone from 59 to 70 percent, and stayed pretty much the same among Republicans and Democrats. So Kirchick’s story and our blogospheric debates seem have had one major impact: bolstering Paul’s support from the center-left.
Mr. Sullivan finds a causality here which escapes me. When two events take place in the same week, I think it remains an open question, absent linking evidence, that one is connected with the other.
Here is a possibility: Iowa is a state that has suffered greatly in the past decade with stagnating or declining wages, and many of their best men and women wounded or dead in poorly led overseas wars. They are looking for someone like them, who feels like they are, an outsider distant from power. The newsletters will be ignored, just as Pat Buchanan’s past vileness was ignored in 1996, because they dealt with people outside of Iowa life and culture. Had the newsletters featured the same vile content about christians as they had about blacks, gays, and jews, Paul’s campaign would be over.
“Dr Paul is consistent and honest, which is very hard to find.”
Quote of the Day
“I voted for Obama in 2008 but we need a change. Dr Paul is consistent and honest, which is very hard to find. He is not just telling us what we have heard before,” – Samantha Dunn, a 28-year-old teacher in Iowa, to the Daily Telegraph.
It would seem Rick Santorum, one of the more loathsome creatures of this earth, is consistent and honest as well. He would also, no doubt, be a change from the current administration. Pat Buchanan, supported by Paul in 1992, and very successful in Iowa in 1996, very much fits the bill as well.
This quote is just that, an excerpt, so there may be fuller thoughts behind it, but what’s striking is that it places agency entirely with the candidate rather than the voter. This song right now is boring, hopefully this next one will be better. This is when the phrase, occasionally used, “the Ron Paul cult” fits because in a cult you are entirely beholden to a leader, freed from having your own thoughts and demands. Mr. Sullivan finds hope in the above statement, I do not.
Engagement in democracy does not mean simply evaluating the personal traits of potential leaders, then blindly following and defending them, but having a set of well-thought out demands, asking that of one’s leaders, and doing everything possible to implement those reforms. The president should be an instrument of the people, of those ideas, rather than one in a series of magicians who’ll entertain until the children get bored. If you do not have such an active population, then I think you have the possibility of a dangerous reactionary, whether Paul or someone else, taking power in these very difficult times.
Sorry, he’s a libertarian.
Dan Savage runs a letter from a reader pushing back against his tolerance of Paul’s record on gays:
Ron Paul does not advocate for leaving gays alone. He simply advocates for the states to be able to oppress them instead of Washington. Take, for example, this 2003 article. Paul decries the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v Texas decision that eliminated state sodomy laws:
“Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment ‘right to privacy.’ Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights—rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.”
Essentially, Paul has no interest in leaving anybody alone. He only wants to get rid of one government scared into submission by oppressive douchebags and replace it with 50 governments scared into submission by oppressive douchebags. That’s not really any better, and I think you may have missed that in your statement to Dave Weigel.
All this is true. Paul really is a federalist in the extreme sense, and he would give states and their courts the power to decide issues such as these. Of course, that also means that those states, like Massachusetts or Iowa or New York, can advance gay equality in a more organic, less top-down way – and Paul, unlike his colleagues, does not back a federal marriage amendment to prevent them. And note that Paul finds anti-sodomy laws “ridiculous”.
Sorry to break the news, but he’s a libertarian.
Lawrence v. Texas involved a group of police entering a house on the grounds that there was a weapons disturbance, who instead came across two men engaged in sex. The two men were arrested for violation of Texas sodomy laws.
The key sentences of Paul’s objection:
The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution.
My bolds. Here is Paul, in his book, Freedom Under Siege:
Privacy is one of the most sacred elements of a free society. It is now common to pass laws which routinely violate the Constitutional guarantee that our homes and persons are not to be invaded by government agents.
Sorry to break the news, but if he’s a libertarian, he’s an awfully inconsistent one.
A Puzzling Daily Dish Reader
A reader writes in to Andrew Sullivan’s blog about the newsletters:
I think Massie’s argument is crap. The reason people are ignoring the 30 year old newsletters written by other people is because they are 30 year old newsletters written by other people.
People don’t care about these things, because they hear Ron Paul talk and they get the message. They get the idea, and they even get that the guy is “just” the carrier of the idea, and not a Newt-aggrandizing ego-maniac. These are very attractive qualities. And his positions – particularly his dedicated anti-war position, in the context of the Obama betrayals – are extremely appealing to huge swathes of the country.
I wouldn’t allow myself to actually think he was a contender until recently. But look at the field.
Here’s the part of the letter that I find puzzling.
Look at the international situation. Look at Iraq. Look at minorities. Look at the economy. If “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” as B.O. suggested in one of his hollowest campaign speeches, then isn’t Paul the one to give us back to ourselves? Who is left?
I really don’t understand how the bolded item fits with the others. The others would all be threats and problems outside of ourselves, which need to be fixed or abandoned. When I think of “minorities” in the current economic climate, I think of certain racial groups that are suffering even more because of crisises in poverty, housing, and education. They are fellow citizens, too many of whom are facing an even greater plight than many of us. I would think of them being part of a list that would include fellow citizens who are all suffering, such as children, students, the elderly, low wage workers, etc., and I think I would try to come up with a less general label than “minorities”.
The only way “Look at minorities” fits the rest of that section is if…I look at them as a threat or a problem outside of myself. Now who might possibly perceive them that way? Just think about that for a minute. I’m curious if Mr. Sullivan noticed that same strange incongruity.