Can Ron Paul win?

With Ron Paul rising in the polls, the media has begun to cast its attention towards the libertarian GOP Congressman.  With Paul rising in the polls, people have begun to ask whether he can win in Iowa and perhaps even New Hampshire.  The Washington Post published a mainly positive profile of Paul in today’s paper, calling him “a force to be reckoned with in this presidential cycle,” which is certainly and objectively true.  However, it concludes with “There is no Ron Paul 2.0,” which is certainly not true, and until now has hardly been mentioned in this primary campaign — perhaps because until now, no one thought that Paul could win anything.

In the last campaign, a number of publications went through Paul’s newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s, an enterprise that provided Paul with a steady income and a base of support that extended beyond his Congressional district.  In May 2007, the Houston Chronicle published some explosive excerpts of these newsletters, which both Curt at Flopping Aces and I linked.  The Chronicle’s link is dead, but my post at CapQ are still accessible.  From May 22, 2007:


Eleven years ago, the Houston Chronicle reported that Ron Paul’s newsletter highlighted what he saw as a criminal community (emphases mine):

Paul, writing in his independent political newsletter in 1992, reported about unspecified surveys of blacks.”Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action,”Paul wrote.

Paul continued that politically sensible blacks are outnumbered “as decent people.” Citing reports that 85 percent of all black men in the District of Columbia are arrested, Paul wrote:

“Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,’ I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal,” Paul said.

Paul also wrote that although “we are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers.”

Not enough yet? How about Paul’s suggestion that the age of adulthood for criminal prosecution be lowered — for blacks?

He added, “We don’t think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That’s true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such.”

But, hey, Paul’s paranoia isn’t limited to African-Americans. He fears the Joooooooos, too:

Stating that lobbying groups who seek special favors and handouts are evil, Paul wrote, “By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government” and that the goal of the Zionist movement is to stifle criticism.

This still may not convince liberals that Paul is nuttier than Aunt Mabel’s pecan pie, but this next part will be guaranteed to end the Paul boomlet on the Left:

Relaying a rumor that Clinton was a longtime cocaine user, Paul wrote in 1994 that the speculation “would explain certain mysteries” about the president’s scratchy voice and insomnia.

How did Ron Paul explain these writings? He claims that he didn’t write them himself, but his staffers did — and it was “too confusing” to explain afterwards:

His reasons for keeping this a secret are harder to understand: “They were never my words, but I had some moral responsibility for them . . . I actually really wanted to try to explain that it doesn’t come from me directly, but they campaign aides said that’s too confusing. ‘It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it.’”

Um, yeah. A politician sends out a newsletter filled with these kinds of paranoid rants, and then claims it would be “too confusing” to fire the people who supposedly wrote it in his name and explain that he didn’t really believe in any of it. There’s some real truth-telling for you!


A few months later, in January 2008 after the Iowa caucuses, Reason Magazine — a publication that has hardly been unfriendly to Paul — took a close look at the issue, and didn’t like what they found.  Matt Welch wrote at that time that Paul never really expressed much regret over the content of his newsletters:

Has Paul really disassociated himself from, and “taken moral responsibility” for, these “Ron Paul” newsletters “for over a decade”? If he has, that history has not been recorded by the Nexis database, as best as I can reckon.

The first indication I could find of Paul either expressing remorse about the statements or claiming that he did not author them came in an October 2001 Texas Monthly article — less than eight years ago. …

So what exactly did Paul and his campaign say about these and more egregious statements during his contentious 1996 campaign for Congress, when Democrat Lefty Morris made the newsletters a constant issue? Besides complaining that the quotes were taken “out of context” and proof of his opponent’s “race-baiting,” Paul and his campaign defended and took full ownership of the comments.

Welch then provided a raft of examples supporting this conclusion, which I would recommend reading.  At the time of my post, Paul had just denied writing his own newsletters, but that contradicted a quote found by the Dallas Morning News in the campaign against Lefty Morris, printed May 22, 1996, found by Welch and included in his post:

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. […]

In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.

“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.

Let’s put aside for the moment Paul’s continued association with conspiracy nut Alex Jones and the 9/11 Truthers, and his fringe views on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.  What do Republicans who are considering Paul as the nominee think will happen if he wins a spot on the Republican ticket?  The Obama campaign will have a field day running these in advertisements and painting their opposition as entirely consisting of old racists, even if Paul starts issuing vague regrets for his newsletters and instructs people to read them in full context. The last two weeks have seen Republicans debate what Mitt Romney was thinking when he said he had “progressive views” in 2002 or when Gingrich was lauding FDR as one of the greatest presidents of all time even longer ago than that.  Aren’t these statements a few orders of magnitude more disturbing?

I have no idea why the Washington Post or other media aren’t reporting on this aspect of Paul’s past.  The Post article never even mentions the word “newsletter.”  Perhaps they see it as such old news that it couldn’t possibly come up in the context of an election.  Perhaps the media figures they’ll just get to it in the general election.  Regardless, it’s time we start pointing out Paul’s record and embarrassing newsletters before enough Republicans take him seriously as a mainstream candidate to do real damage to our ability to win in November.

Update: Just when I thought everyone else had amnesia about Paul and the newsletters, Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast also chose today to remind readers about it:

I wonder what these young and gender-transcendent and differently melanined people would make, for example, of the racism charges. There is debate on this point, but back during the 2008 campaign, The New Republic’s James Kirchick tracked down old copies (late 1980s and early 1990s) of a newsletter that went out to subscribers under Paul’s name. The sentences that appear in these documents are so astonishing that they’d have stood out in Alabama in 1960. Martin Luther King was a “world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours” (who were, interestingly, of both sexes). The name of New York City should be changed to “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,” or “Lazyopolis.” David Duke’s near-win in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary was celebrated. Mountains of material about welfare cheats and animals and arming oneself for the coming race riot and so on.

Well, Andrew Sullivan endorsed Paul today, so we don’t need to worry about this, I guess.

Update II: We’re already starting to see the “Paul didn’t write his own newsletter” response in the comments.  As Matt Welch notes, he actually acknowledged writing them in 1996, before they became a big liability, but even if he didn’t write them himself, he published them under his own byline, and made a profit on them.  As for them being 20 years old, well, you judge whether people will dismiss them as old news when Team Obama starts rolling out a Ron Paul Quote of the Day from the convention to the election.

Update III: Jeff Dunetz wrote about this a month ago, and he has a lot more than I have in this post, all of it bad (including screen shots of the newsletters themselves).  At the American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord also discusses this, and mentions that he and Sean Hannity discussed it yesterday on Hannity’s radio show:

While I think the lack of attention has been due to the fact that many did not take him seriously, a justifiable complaint from his supporters, I have tried to do just that in this space. And in doing so launched a fusillade of angry response from Paul supporters that, peculiarly, never seems forthcoming when I criticize Gingrich/Romney/Perry/Huntsman etc etc.

But as we head into this last debate of the season, Hannity has raised an excellent point. The higher Ron Paul goes, as with his fellow candidates who have floated to the top previously, the scrutiny will intensify. And Ron Paul will have to seriously answer.

Or he can just respond with the “ohmygosh these are old news that Paul didn’t write himself and even if he did he doesn’t believe them even if they are totally true” defense we’re seeing in the comments from Paul’s defenders.

Update IV: Ace has a lengthy post on this subject that should be read in full, but this part should be especially noted:

Ron Paul claims he didn’t write this stuff, which I can believe, mostly.

But he also claims he wasn’t aware what the newsletters published in his name, supposedly written by him, were saying.

There are a lot of people who find it implausible that Barack Hussein Obama didn’t know the basic tenor of the Reverent Wright’s sermons of hatred. It is unlikely in the extreme, they reason, that Obama could have missed each one of Wright’s hateful, anti-semitic seethings — these statements were too pervasive to believe he just happened to miss every single one of them.

Well, the old-line racist/neoconfederate ravings in Paul’s newsletters (for which he was paid; people paid for this, and he profited) were more pervasive.

Furthermore, these missives were written with a specific goal in mind: creating a “paleoconservative alliance” between libertarians and old-time neoconfederates and former Klanners.

Does Doctor Paul seriously expect us to believe he wasn’t even aware of the basic ideological line his newsletters were peddling? He claims he didn’t even have that minimum level of editorial knowledge?

A line here or a line there, I could understand. But we are talking here about the basic thrust of his newsletters, which were paranoid, survivalist, racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic. All that’s missing is some anti-Catholic agitation and he’s got the full Klanner set covered.

Read it all.