Tragically, The Only Man Who Can Save America once again finds his patriotic words twisted beyond recognition. Or does he? Read David Freddoso’s apologia and then read the transcript of the exchange at Politico. Actually, never mind — I’ll quote it right here:

Alex Jones: “Congressman, just out of the gates. Cindy Sheehan yesterday on my show went further than anybody has ever gone. She said, ‘a distinct chance of a staged terror attack or the government allowing that to happen it to happen.’ Bush is saying he doesn’t care what the people want the war will continue. They’ve set up the military commissions act; they’ve set up the John Warner defense authorization act. He signed PDD 51, making himself literally dictator…he ‘gave himself that power.’ How much danger are we in now, with the Homeland Security head feeling in his gut we are about to be hit. Republican memos saying they need terror attacks, they need Al Qaeda hit us to be able to continue the war, top military strategists saying it. How much danger are we in of some new Gulf of Tonkin provocation?

Ron Paul: “Well, I think we are in great danger of it. We are danger in many ways – the attack on our civil liberties here at home, the foreign policy that is in shambles and our obligations overseas and commitment, which endangers our troops and our national defense. So everyday, we are in worse shape. And right now there is an orchestrated effort to blame the Iranians for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq. And we’re quite concerned, many of us, that the attack will be on Iran and that will confuse things and jeopardize so many more of our troops, so I would say that we are in much greater danger than we have been even 4 or 5 years ago. Whether it is overseas or even by terrorists here at home, because I just think the policies are seriously flawed.”

Freddoso makes it sound like the only reference to a staged terror attack was in passing at the beginning of a hopelessly opaque, minutes-long ramble which no human could possibly be expected to remember. Transparently false. First of all, the question wasn’t “multi-part” as he suggests. Jones’s point, to suggest that Bush and company were conspiring to instigate a second national trauma they can exploit to expand the war and gain dictatorial power, was perfectly clear. “I think we are in great danger of it” came the dopey reply. Second, everything Jones says leading in to the question at the end about the Gulf of Tonkin has to do with a staged terror attack: the dark reference to Chertoff’s gut, the mentions of needing Al Qaeda to hit us, etc. If Paul thought there was some material difference between that and a Gulf of Tonkin scenario, why didn’t he say so? That’s the real objection to him — whatever he might have meant by his answer, he’s unusually comfortable with questions like these such that it never occurs to him to challenge people on statements that would have alarm bells ringing in your and my heads. A long, rambling question that began with a statement of Holocaust denial and then segued into criticism of Gitmo wouldn’t pass unchallenged by most of us. Why does Paul let the repeated insinuations of a staged attack pass here?

The answer, of course, is that he doesn’t find them that outrageous. If he had any big problem with Jones’s oeuvre he wouldn’t be on the show in first place, which brings us to the punchline of Freddoso’s post. He acknowledges that Jones is a “madman” but then says appearing on his show is the “only” thing Paul’s “stupidly” guilty of, as if to hint that Paul didn’t know what he was getting into. Hey, David: he appears regularly. He knows exactly what the show’s about. Stupidity or naivete has nothing to do with it. And the fact is, even in the most charitable interpretation, Paul’s still clearly assenting to his belief in a new Gulf of Tonkin. Freddoso has to try to show why that’s no big deal because, after all, appearing on the show is the only thing Paul’s guilty of. Here’s what he comes up:

As for the “new Gulf of Tonkin provovacation” suggested by Jones at the end of his question, and assented to by Paul, it is true that several paleoconservatives — including Pat Buchanan today — are starting to use similar language, referring to the minor military confrontation that was massively embellished to justify our official escalation of the Vietnam War. But the Gulf of Tonkin incident was not a “staged terrorist attack” either.

Really? Every conspiracy theorist version of Tonkin that I’ve ever heard of goes way beyond “embellishment” in explaining what happened. Rosie wasn’t talking about embellishment when she floated it on “The View.” And Alex Jones’s website wasn’t talking about embellishment here:

Republican Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Ron Paul fears a staged Gulf of Tonkin style incident may be used to provoke air strikes on Iran as numerous factors collide to heighten expectations that America may soon be embroiled in its third war in six years…

The August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats, was cited by President Johnson as a legitimate provocation mandating U.S. escalation in Vietnam, yet Tonkin was a staged charade that never took place. Declassified LBJ presidential tapes discuss how to spin the non-event to escalate it as justification for air strikes and the NSA faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost.

Paul himself hasn’t referred to the supposed impending Iran attack as “staged” but he has used a similar word. Fast forward to about :25 here if you’re counting down and judge for yourself if Freddoso’s spinning.