Borger: “These things are pretty incendiary.”
Paul: “That’s because of people like you.”
Really? Only liberal/media types should find the newsletters offensive? He can’t mean that because he keeps saying that he disavows the content. I think he means that the newsletters are water under bridge which everyone rightly should, and would, never mention again if not for the media repeatedly bringing them up. Which is interesting for a few reasons. One: Every other candidate’s dirty laundry has been aired and re-aired over the past few months and no one else has enjoyed an “asked and answered” defense. How many thousand times has Perry been pressed to apologize for his dumb debate remark about immigration hawks being heartless, for instance? Two: As Dave Weigel notes, Paul actually hasn’t answered all the questions asked about the newsletters. He won’t say who wrote them or whether he still associates with the author. All he knows is that none of this is fair game anymore, which goes even further than Obama did when he tried to dismiss an obnoxious association of his own.
Three: Until this week, when his odds of winning Iowa suddenly started to look real, Paul’s gotten an almost total pass from the media on this. Partly that’s because he used to look like a longshot who wasn’t worth bothering about and partly it’s because the media admires him as a Republican who hates other Republicans, especially when it comes to foreign policy. By the end here, in fact, Borger seems almost apologetic in having had to ask about it. Would any other conservative, save possibly Huntsman, have drawn that tone from a reporter in a line of questioning about racism? And four: To echo a point Ed made a few days ago, if Romney or Perry or Gingrich had these newsletters on their resume, they’d be dead on arrival. Even if primary voters believed their “didn’t write ’em, never saw ’em” explanation, they’d be perceived as unelectable against Obama and therefore un-nominatable. Paul, ironically, gets some leeway from people on this, I think, because he’s already perceived as unelectable and un-nominatable (except by his core supporters, of course). Why beat him up over an old disgrace when he’s about to have a moment in the sun in Iowa and then fade?
For what it’s worth, his answer here tracks perfectly with the reactions I typically see from Paul fans in blog comment threads whenever the newsletters come up. It’s never a matter of “yes, they’re disturbing and absolutely fair game, but we need to elect Paul anyway because we desperately need his fiscal discipline.” Rather, it’s always a case of “Meh, old news. This again?” Good luck in the general election, guys. Exit quotation from Philip Klein: “Ron Paul transparency: Bradley Manning is a hero for leaking classified info, but don’t dare ask who wrote my newsletters!”
Update: Ed e-mails to ask if I can recall another presidential candidate walking out of an interview with a mainstream news outlet. I’m sure it’s happened, but I honestly can’t think of an example. Anyone?Update: A reader e-mails that it looks to him like the interview was already over when Paul started pulling his mic off and that Borger simply kept asking questions, i.e. that he didn’t actually walk out. Hard to tell, but duly noted. Either way, Paul’s displeasure is obvious.