Thursday, December 29, 2011
Some quick thoughts on those newsletters
Anyone who has been paying any attention to political news is probably aware that critics of Ron Paul are dredging up some newsletters published under his name decades ago. There is no way to describe some of the things written in them except as racist and repulsive trash. Now this is not "news" per se since this all came out about twenty years ago. Dr. Paul immediately disavowed the letters and repudiated the offensive commentary. He has since said he did not author them.
As I see it there are two possibilities here. One is really bad and the other is simply embarrassing. The first is that he DID author the letters, which would also mean he is lying now. If that were proven to my satisfaction I would withdraw my endorsement of Ron Paul. Not because I think he is a racist. I don't. But the lie would be something I could not overlook.
A lot of white men raised in the South when he came of age had some really bad beliefs instilled in them Most have since come to realize they were wrong and have renounced them. But I have simply seen no credible evidence to suggest Ron Paul is or ever really was some sort of racist. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence as also his voting record that strongly suggests otherwise. Racism is something that is very difficult to square with libertarianism which promotes respect for individuals and their rights. By contrast racism promotes a philosophy that is based on group identity, stereotypes and unequal rights.
So no, I don't believe he is a racist and I seriously doubt he ever was though I concede that I could be wrong.
The second possibility is that he is substantively telling the truth when he says he did not author the newsletters and doesn't really know who did. That's not as far fetched as some in the media are making it out. A lot of politicians give their blessing to people to write stuff on their behalf and under their name. And many don't keep close tabs on who is doing the writing or exactly what's being sent out. In Congress staff members usually vet that sort of thing. Of course that is not an excuse, it's an explanation. Irrespective of whether Ron Paul gave his blessing directly to someone or his staff dropped the ball or some combination of the two, the fact remains that person or persons unknown wrote some pretty vile stuff under his name. And this was not a one or two time deal, it went on for years.
As noted earlier Dr. Paul repudiated the comments close to twenty years ago and shut down the newsletters. And while I do think this was a bad case of poor judgment, staff work and or supervision; no I don't think it calls into question his fitness for office. I don't know of anyone running who doesn't have more serious negatives (especially on the pressing issues of the moment) in their backgrounds. But yea, this is and should be hugely embarrassing.
Correction: Via The Young Fogey Dr. Paul is a native of Pennsylvania, not the south.