Politico: Ron Paul really has to explain these six statements

No, this isn’t another post about the newsletters, which Politico to their credit has covered and does mention in this piece.  Instead, Ginger Gibson identifies six political statements from Paul over the years that she believes Paul will need to explain to maintain his credibility in this race:

The storyline dogging Ron Paul as his numbers continue to rise in Iowa — the racist content in newsletters published in the 1990s under his name — poses a significant impediment to his campaign’s momentum.

But that’s not his only problem.

Even as he disavows the newsletters — the Texas congressman asserts he didn’t write them and never even read them — Paul’s got a collection of other statements that he’ll likely need to explain in greater detail if he expects to capture the Republican Party nomination.

I’ll bullet-point the statements Gibson identifies:

  • The “disaster” of Ronald Reagan’s conservative agenda
  • Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional
  • American drug laws are designed to fund rogue governments, CIA programs
  • U.S. foreign policy “significantly contributed” to 9/11 attacks
  • Returning white supremacist donation is “pandering”
  • The Civil Rights Act “violated the Constitution”

Before I address the statements themselves, I’ll question the premise of the article itself.  When has Ron Paul ever had to give a rational explanation to anything he’s done in the past to maintain his base of support?  Granted, Paul’s support has temporarily expanded outside of that base in Iowa and New Hampshire, and if he wants to maintain that momentum, these statements would eventually have to get reconciled.  I doubt, however, that Paul or his team see the need to “explain” these statements, and not just because they might still believe all of this.  In politics, “explaining” is “losing.”

There are only really two statements here that haven’t been baked into the Paul cake and could hurt him.  When running for President on the Libertarian ticket in 1987, Paul credited Reagan for “pointing out the fallacies of the Democratic liberal agenda in 1980, but then castigated him for doing “a good job on following up to show the disaster of the conservative agenda as well.”  As Gibson points out, Republicans still consider the Age of Ronaldus Maximus as a golden era for conservatism, and this attack won’t wear well with the base.  Paul made that statement almost a quarter-century ago, though, and he can certainly say that in retrospect, Reagan accomplished much while still leaving much unaccomplished.

The other is the donation from the Florida white supremacist and Paul’s refusal to return it, saying, “I think it is pandering. I think it is playing the political correctness.”  Without the newsletters, this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but with the newsletters it looks as though the real pandering involving Paul was pandering to the fringe-bigot crowd.  That didn’t come from 24 years ago, but from his presidential run four years ago.  It only would have cost Paul $500 to resolve this issue at the time, but if the media decides to pick it up, it could reinforce the newsletter story and provide a clear narrative of Paul as a fringe-element kook.

The other statements are, for better or worse, standard Paul fare.  The argument that Social Security and Medicare are “unconstitutional” has been voiced by other Republican presidential candidates besides Paul.  Paul has long criticized the Civil Rights Act as a constitutional overreach of the federal government, a position with which his more-politically-adept son flirted in his Senate campaign before hitting reverse and affirming it as a positive development.  The other positions — that the US foreign policy “significantly contributed to the [9/11] attacks” and that the drug war is intended to fund “some terrorist government someplace” or to fund CIA programs are part of Paul’s rather paranoid view of the world, which is his tie to the Alex Jones base and why he makes so many appearances on Prison Planet.  In fact, as this poorly-produced web ad (the voice-over is hysterical and the recording is warbly) from the Paul campaign from a couple of weeks ago reminds us, Paul didn’t win his legion of devotees by taking a rational, thinking approach to American security:

That doesn’t sound as if Team Paul thinks they have anything to explain, even if they really, really do.