Rightbloggers Close Ranks Against Ron Paul, The Wrong Kind of Small-Government Conservative
Everyone else has been the GOP Presidential front-runner -- why not Ron Paul? He's one point behind the current Next President of the United States, Newt Gingrich, on the cusp of the Iowa caucuses, and has been on the Jay Leno Show.
Naturally this has led to attacks on Paul -- but not so much by the fabled Main Stream Media as by his alleged fellow conservatives. Have you heard, for example, about the racist sentiments in some old Ron Paul newsletters? If you follow rightbloggers, you've heard plenty.
James Kirchick, who chronicled the hair-raising statements from Paul's newsletters in the New Republic four years ago, returned in the most recent edition of conservative magazine The Weekly Standard to amplify on them. (Sample quote: "Order was only restored in [the L.A. riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.")
Conservatives who normally are, let us say, unconcerned with racism were suddenly mortally offended by it in Paul's case.
"It's important for voters to remember Paul's insurmountable, self-inflicted handicap, and why he has no chance of becoming president," said Alana Goodman at Commentary. "In a civilized, decent nation, Ron Paul will be unelectable," said Bookworm Room. "If he does want to be taken seriously, it's time for him to answer for this garbage," said Dan Riehl.
"Big problem - and growing," said Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator. "I grant permission to anyone to take the content in this entry and redistribute it," Conservatives Network headed its roundup of Paul newsletter stories. "The truth needs to get out."
William Teach of Right Wing News reported that Paul had once received a donation from a white supremacist, and added (we suppose in case his regular readership wondered why that was such a big deal), "Good luck explaining that away during a General Election with an opponent who is half Black."
Even the Muslim-hating Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs got in on the act. "Proof of Ron Paul's racism and lies," she keened. "Considering how anti-Jewish he is, this is hardly surprising..." Jeez, next Pat Buchanan will start ranking on Paul.
Soon the Huffington Post was able to report to the wider world that "Ron Paul's Controversial 'Newsletters' Edge Back Into The News Cycle." Mission accomplished!
And they still don't like him. Go figure!
At The Astute Bloggers, Avi Green won the Chutzpah Award for wondering "why the MSM may not be covering [Paul's] horrific writings," and answering himself, "No doubt some of them are concealing this in hopes he'll at least score a minor victory in Iowa, which alone could give them the perfect opportunity to attack the conservative movement for being what they've been working so hard to prove they're not - racist." That liberal media -- they never give a racist Republican a break unless it's strategic.
Karl at Patterico's Pontifications found the real villain of the story: conservative reporter Dave Weigel. "Weigel voted for Ron Paul and announces he may again in 2012," reported Karl. "...You would think someone who enjoys casually flinging the race card at Fox News and FoxNation wouldn't vote for a candidate with a long history of disseminating racist, anti-gay and crypto-anti-Semitic tracts... Next time you read some piece where Weigel is riding around on a high horse, crusading against the fringe right, just remember that's a show for his left-leaning bosses; he dismounts to get into the voting booth." We're surprised Karl didn't suggest Weigel's left-leaning bosses ordered him to vote for the racist Paul in order to embarrass the movement. We're through the looking glass here, people!
There were other reasons rightbloggers couldn't vote for Paul. Foreign policy, for example. That small-government talk is all well and good, but true conservatives know it doesn't apply to the Pentagon.
This is the establishment-conservative POV, as recently exemplified by the Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel, who, after some blahblah about Paul being "in many ways, the ideal candidate for a conservative electorate hungry for a principled GOP nominee" and "the 'intellectual godfather' of the tea party movement," disqualified Paul on the grounds that he "fundamentally denies American exceptionalism and refuses to allow for decisive action to protect the U.S. homeland."
Rightbloggers got right on it.
Ghost of John Brown at Illinois Review said, "Congressman Paul has a remarkably naive view of foreign relations" -- shown by his lack of enthusiasm for armed conflict with Iran. "The Iranian President has talked openly and positively about the possibility of harkening the coming of the 12th Imam," cried GoJB. "...Just having a nice little chat with the Iranians isn't going to get the job done."
GoJB felt the need to clarify: "Let me be clear. I am NOT calling for a war against Iran. What I AM calling for is a strategy that leaves all options on the table, covert actions to prevent the Iranians from getting their hands on those weapons, and if necessary, strategic strikes against the Iranian nuclear program." But war? No, that'd be crazy.
When Paul denounced the Iraq war for killing "a million Iraqis," Some Guy at RedState claimed Paul was trying to "shift responsibility for innocent deaths from the actual killers onto us," the innocent bystanders with all the soldiers and state-of-the-art weapons. In case no one got why this was an Outrage, Some Guy added, "I know people don't like to invoke the comparison, but to me this was no different than the extensive defense by many American isolationists of the Nazi regime throughout the 1930's (before the Holocaust was public knowledge)." Now you're outraged, right? You better be!
The American Spectator's Aaron Goldstein actually went the limit and compared Paul unfavorably to President Obama. "If President Obama deals with world leaders by bowing to them, President Paul might very well fall to his knees," he snarled. "If President Obama's foreign policy legacy is one of apology, then President Paul's foreign policy legacy would be one of submission." And if President Obama went around screaming like a girl, then President Paul would go around screaming like a girl and mincing and wearing bikini bottoms and lipstick and saying how much he looooves Ahmadinejad.
American and Proud had a question for Ron Paul supporters. Got a minute?
"Ron Paul is POTUS and the day he takes office Iran, Syria and Egypt all attack Israel. Israel handles it themselves as Ron says they should. The middle east explodes into war for a solid month. Stock market collapses, oil shoots up to record highs, Israel Nukes Iran the war ends but NO oil is leaving the middle east because lanes of travel are closed. Paul says open up drilling here to create jobs and decrease our dependency on Middle east oil. BUT, the environmentalists, progressive democrats in several oil producing states take the feds to court (Granted by constitutional challenge of the feds by the states) How does a Ron Paul handle the chaos of the 79 gas crisis coupled with a nation of lawyers with opposing views of the constitution?"
We approve of the question, and would like to see it asked of all the candidates.
"[Paul] is too nuts on foreign policy to be trusted with the Presidency," said Erick Erickson of RedState. Angry White Dude was pissed that Paul said Michele Bachmann doesn't like Muslims. "Well, I don't like Muslims either!" he wrote. "I don't trust them or their religion." Noted.
Then there were the social issues. Conservatives Network attacked Paul for failing to defend Rick Santorum when Jay Leno asked Paul about Santorum's "dislike of gays." "Leno is trying to portray conservatives as gay bashers and Muslim haters," said Conservatives Network. "Ron Paul replies with a submissive giggle and approval of Leno's stereotype. Ron Paul doesn't try to make Leno understand where Santorum is coming from." Well, that is strange, especially since in one of his old newsletters, Paul accused gays of trying to "poison the blood supply." Why, on that basis Santorum could be his VP! (In fairness, we should note that the National Organization for Marriage has attacked Paul for failing to sign their anti-gay-marriage pledge.)
Paul had his defenders. SaberPoint didn't see what was so racist about the racist comments in the Paul newsletters. "Paul stated that young black purse snatchers are unlikely to be caught because of their swiftness of foot," said SaberPoint. "However, Paul is right, black men do run faster than men of other races. This is a biological fact. It is the reason why blacks make up a disproportionate number of men in professional sports like basketball or football." (Now we're beginning to understand why Bell Curve fan Andrew Sullivan endorsed Paul.)
But that was a -- forgive the expression -- minority position. The radio silence or grudging admiration of Paul you sometimes hear from rightbloggers has all but vanished. Now he's a pariah whose surge must be squashed quickly, before he does the party some damage.
But why? Why is Fox News' Chris Wallace saying that if Ron Paul wins the Iowa caucuses, the loser would be the Iowa caucuses? Why is Rush Limbaugh piling on Paul? Isn't Ron Paul the truest small-government candidate in the race, and aren't they all small-government guys?
Depends on what you mean by small government. Sure, these guys are against the kind of big government that gives money or medical coverage to poor people -- but the kind that gives money to endless wars or the oil industry or Newt Gingrich is okay. Everyone in the 2012 GOP field understands that except Ron Paul. And that's why he can never be allowed anywhere close to real power.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.