The Controversial Ron Paul: The GOP and Assange, Israel and the NDAA

Presidential candidate Ron Paul is a man embroiled in many controversies. Let's survey some of the more recent ones:

*Ron Paul wins the coveted Wikileaks endorsement, as Julian Assange tips his hat to Paul as a particularly important public supporter in an interview with Rolling Stone.

*Paul continues to court controversy with his own party in the New York Times:

Asked whether he believed he would have the leverage to make Republicans more willing to accommodate his supporters and positions, he said: “I don’t know how they’re going to handle it. Because we’re very precise on what we would like, and I can’t imagine all of a sudden one of the other candidates changing their position on their desire to go to war constantly.”

He added: “How much leverage do I have? How many more votes am I going to get? You know, the more pressure they feel, the more they might be willing to look at some of those issues. We want to change things.”

*Which is why William Kristol, conservative thought leader and editor of The Weekly Standard, says Ron Paul should leave the Republican Party, and that the Republican Party should feel no worries about letting him go. Kristol thinks losing Paul's forces would hurt them no more than did driving Pat Buchanan to the Reform Party in 2000 hurt them. Those who confuse Buchanan's backward-looking culture war brigades with the current forward-looking small-government, sensible spending and foreign policy forces coalescing around Paul are, I think, misreading the future of their Party and American politics. Ignoring the candidate of your Party most favored by those under 40 (as Paul was in New Hampshire) can't be good for its long-term future.

*Reid Smith in the American Spectator argues that Paul could avoid some controversies with the Republican base by re-casting his foreign policy arguments:

 if I'm Ron Paul, I'd re-emphasize the waste associated with America's enduring responsibility to foreign states that are more than capable of handling regional security threats on their own -- but choose to free-ride on the American taxpayer's dime. While this tact won't suit staunch advocates of our current foreign policy who insist that the liberal institutional order is imperiled absent a ubiquitous projection of American power, I'd argue this is the only way to actually beat Obama on foreign policy....

For better or worse, Paul -- and Paul alone -- enjoys the opportunity to say something different. Unfortunately, he has a nasty habit of pushing things way past the line of conventional thinking, and into a realm of devil's advocacy previously unimaginable in mainstream conservative debate....I'll maintain that it's not "crazy" to link an unsustainable national debt with the fact that we continue to spend defense dollars at a rate comparable to, or exceeding, the first half of the 1940s.

*Techdirt is upset with Paul's campaign for suing to try to find the identity of the creator of the fake anti-Huntsman, allegedly pro-Paul YouTube video:

 the Paul campaign has now filed a lawsuit in the federal courts, in the Northern California district, seeking to identify whoever created and uploaded the video -- alleging trademark infringement and defamation. Even more ridiculous is that he's filed for expedited discovery to try to unmask those uploaders quickly. This is all sorts of bizarre and not particularly smart. It also seems to go against a bunch of Paul's main points -- including his belief in state's rights over federal (he's suing in federal court, not state court, using some questionable theories) and his support of the First Amendment -- which, many courts have pointed out, includes the right to speak anonymously.

Even more specifically, on the actual details of the lawsuit it's difficult to see how this is a trademark claim in any way, since it's questionable how this is a "use in commerce" (necessary for trademark law). Second, the defamation claim is just bizarre. As a public figure, the bar for defamation is crazy high -- and he'd likely have to prove that the video was made maliciously to make him look bad. That seems like a massively high hurdle....

Finally, what good does filing this lawsuit do? I can't figure out any conceivable argument under which filing the lawsuit makes sense. Not only is it on questionable legal theories and contrary to his core statements on Constitutional support, but it also simply calls more attention to the offensive video and brings the story back into the news cycle, after he's been trying to distance himself from it. No doubt, the video is stupid, but this lawsuit may be even dumber. 

*How progressives should feel about Paul is a matter of continuing controversy, and will be. Natural News offers 10 reasons progs, liberals, and Dems should dig him.

*Paul's position on Israel--that foreign aid to it (and everyone else) should be cut, and that this might actually make them better off, is also quite controversial. The Jewish Daily Forward is arguing that even a Paul that doesn't win the nomination might influence presumptive nominee Romney in a way they won't like.

To the contrary, Judd Weiss argues at his Hustle Bear site that a Ron Paul vision for U.S. attitudes toward Israel is also good for Israel:

We don’t have a homeland yet. Not unless we’re independent to make our own decisions. This aid comes at a heavy price. Our sovereignty and our ability to pursue our best interests should be for sale to no one. Certainly not for $3 Billion.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has strongly disapproved of Ron Paul, refusing to allow him to join their presidential debate they hosted on December 7. This is a mistake. If Republican Jews are going to remain consistent with their small government principles, they must oppose welfare for their causes just as they oppose welfare towards causes of other groups. As all limited government advocates know: welfare makes one dependent and weak.

Israel believes that it is dependent on America. This is not true. The people of Israel are capable and competent. They’ve been tested, and they’ve proved themselves many times. If Jews around the world are capable of raising hundreds of millions of dollars each year just to send students on a free trip to Israel, they are certainly capable of managing the lack of $3 Billion in annual US Aid....

In 1981, when the UN and most of the world, including the entire US congress and Ronald Reagan, condemned Israel for attacking a Nuclear Reactor under construction in IRAQ, at a time when Iraq was our ally against Iran, Ron Paul was the only single congressman to support Israel. Ron Paul DOES NOT want to destroy Israel, he is the only one who will free Israel from the shifting whims of the American public.

*And on one of the more shocking non-controversies (that is, you hear very few people arguing against it in prominent places) of our time, the hideously tyrannical elements of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Ron Paul tried to remind his colleagues how they've just let the very basics of civilized rule of law out the window.

In doing so he reminds all of us that we're going to miss him next year when he isn't in Congress any more to say these sorts of things from the hall of Congress. As he introduces legislation to repeal Sec. 1021 of the NDAA, saying "sadly too many of our colleagues are willing to undermine our Constitution...it is critical we identify and apprehend those...targeting attacks against Americans, but why do we have so little faith in our judicial system?....Let us not abandon what is so unique and special about our system of government" in the process of fighting terror:

For all you wanted to know about Ron Paul and more, see my forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution.

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  • ||

    Well Iowa didn't even count cause its Soft Delegate status so awarded no delegates until it shows which ones voted for who, the New Hampshire moved up there polls so they only got to award 12 Hard Delegates with 7 going to Romney, and 3 to Ron Paul and 2 to John Huntsman, thus saying Ron Paul is in 2nd place right now! and if Newt comes in 1st with Ron Paul coming in at 2nd as the real polls are showing, Romney mite get 3rd but most likely come in last behind Santourm, if this happens,, even if Ron Paul comes in 2nd, he will be in the lead!!

  • CE||

    SC and FL delegates are pretty much a lost cause. The real question is can Ron Paul actually win a few independent-minded caucus states like Nevada, Maine, and Minnesota, and will those wins give him enough momentum to actually win later big delegate states like Texas and California, now that Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman have dropped out?

  • Bee Tagger||

    We doin it live here?

  • CE||

    It's funny how balancing the budget and following the Constitution and restoring spending to pre-bailout levels can be considered so controversial.

    And how far "outside the mainstream" is he really, when 20-25 percent of Republican primary voters are picking him in a field with 7, er 6, er 4 candidates, and he's second in fourth quarter fundraising?

  • CE||

    Another War Street Journal neocon worries that Ron Paul might actually use the delegates he earns from Republican primary voters votes to actually influence the Republican platform (the horror!):

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....27100.html

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Mr. Paul is losing this nomination because of his isolationist views on foreign policy and presidential power.

    Another person who doesn't (or pretends not to) understand the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism.

    I'm not entirely sold on Paul's foreign policy views myself, but it's patently unfair to call him an isolationist, when he's one of the biggest free trade advocates there is.

  • Eitan||

    Ron Paul is not the biggest free trade advocate. Or at least, in the area of free trade he definitely makes the perfect the enemy of the good. He's voted against all free trade agreements since NAFTA. I understand his reasoning for it but I disagree with him on this.

  • Eitan||

    I forgot to mention that additionally, he is restrictionist on immigration policy as well. Another thing I wonder about is that he always says we should fund the federal government the way we did before the 20th century, when a major source of their funding was tariffs. Now, he opposes sanctions so that's good. But he does seem to have a quasi-nationalist concern about US sovereignty. I still support him despite these concerns (and others). I wonder what other libertarians think about it.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Fuck NAFTA. Real North American free trade doesn't need treaties. It flows from Vancouver. And Tijuana.

  • ||

    How convenient?! When quoting him, they left a an important part out... That figures!!!

  • Mormonopoly||

    Just stop the mormons, the goal of the mormons is to place the US economy under the control of the mormon church. That can only lead to terrible, terrible things.

  • ||

    Kinda makes you wonder who comes up with all that stuff. Wow.

    www.privacy-toolz.com

  • Satan||

    American Spectator gives Paul helpful advice? Excuse me, I must check on my kingdom.

  • flacid tuna||

    Which is why William Kristol, conservative thought leader and editor of The Weekly Standard, says Ron Paul should leave the Republican Party, and that the Republican Party should feel no worries about letting him go.

    Which was Reason's position pre-2012 prior to the Newsletters becoming a non-issue (except that instead of the GOP you wanted to boot Paul out of the libertarian "movement").

    CANCEL MY DAMN SUBSCRIPTION!!!

  • GILMORE||

    whoa, thats a big DRINK

    I'm sure he receives his issues addressed to "Flacid Tuna" as well.

  • WFB||

    Cancel your own goddamn subscripton.

  • Mr. FIFY||

  • 0x90||

    So perhaps, lucidity begins to take hold.

  • ||

    The more they try and hide him the bigger it 'll get. If Iran keeps it's cool we got this locked up by July. They don't think we are even trying to win. With proportional delegate primary / caucuses it's not going to be a short race.

  • IceTrey||

    You can't undermine the Constitution with unconstitutional laws. It takes people at the street level willing to enforce those laws that undermine the Constitution. It takes the brown shirts. Where will the boots to trample us down come from, but from among us? The Constitution is just a piece of parchment. It's up to patriots to make it live.

  • Louis Nardozi||

    That's right, throw away the Presidency rather than doing the following:

    a) GOP Leadership steps up and threatens to sue on behalf of Republicans for the media bias displayed against Paul, condemning it in the strongest possible terms,
    b) Give Ron Paul equal time at debates and let him sink or swim on his own positions.
    c) Get the media to stop using known bad information about Paul (isolationist)
    d) Get the media to stop asking questions they wouldn't ask any other candidate (third party run,electability)

    Because here's what going to happen: We will still write in Paul, every single supporter. But we're going to do something else, speaking as a Republican of 30 years. To show our displeasure with the GOP, we will vote against EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE, RIGHT DOWN TO DOG CATCHER.

    Make the Ron Paul Promise at http://RonPaulPromise.com

  • ||

    a) GOP Leadership steps up and threatens to sue on behalf of Republicans for the media bias displayed against Paul, condemning it in the strongest possible terms

    You mean the same GOP that colluded with that same media to exclude Gary Johnson from the debates? That GOP?

    We will still write in Paul, every single supporter.


    I will vote for him in the primary. But if he does not get the nomination I will vote for Gary Johnson. Because this is about liberty and not the man.

  • Noam||

    Isn't Ron Paul a nazi or something?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Are you a fucking troll or something?

  • poetry||

    i'll something your nazi!

  • ||

    Style point:

    Capitalizing "Party" as a standalone term has a definite Soviet/Commie ring to it.

    Dunno if that was intentional, Brian, but there it is.

  • ||

    "...embroiled in many controversies"

    So is Obama. And Romney. Gingrich. And Santorum.

    But only Paul gives me many good reasons to vote for him.

  • ||

    Finally, what good does filing this lawsuit do?

    It makes it perfectly clear that this was not a Ron Paul ad. And it acts as a deterrent against other false flag ops.

    I can't figure out any conceivable argument under which filing the lawsuit makes sense.

    Its an interesting defamation claim. If you accept the ads as essentially putting their odious opinions in Ron Paul's mouth, I think he's got a claim. Can he clear the "malice" bar? Maybe. Let's see who really put it up, and why, but I think he's got a shot at proving malice.

    Not only is it on questionable legal theories and contrary to his core statements on Constitutional support,

    Not under the defamation theory above.

    but it also simply calls more attention to the offensive video and brings the story back into the news cycle, after he's been trying to distance himself from it.

    It brings it back into the news cycle AS SOMETHING RON PAUL ABHORS. Which is not bad.

  • GILMORE||

    Those who confuse Buchanan's backward-looking culture war brigades with the current forward-looking small-government, sensible spending and foreign policy forces coalescing around Paul are, I think, misreading the future of their Party and American politics. Ignoring the candidate of your Party most favored by those under 40 (as Paul was in New Hampshire) can't be good for its long-term future

    I may not have ever been a huge Paul supporter (and in the context of brigades of fire-breathing Paulistas, who is, really?), but I think this is a pretty important point here, and well-explains a lot of the complaints about Paul by the standing old-guard, establishment, 'professional' republicans. The basic issue is that he's a one-man game-changer. They hate that. They play team sports and he's not a team. He does not follow the narrative that they've developed over the last 2 decades. He's basically burying the old guard's sales pitch about 'family values' and 'compassionate conservatism', religious-right/-meets big-business mindset, and replacing it with something far more relevant. They want to kill him off, pretend he is a kook, then steal his ideas and pretend they were endorsing these things all along. The reason people like Kristol, Frum, Gerson, et al go out of their way to shit on him so much is that he's basically slowly putting them out of their jobs. They are less relevant every day.

    I personally welcome the day that no one fucking cares what Bill Kristol has to say. His opinions and influence have done absolutely nothing positive for this country over the last 2 decades. The fact that the GOP is 30% of the electorate (or less) is very much the responsibility of these idiots.

  • JohnB||

    Can someone cleary tell us the point of this article?

  • PCuberalles||

    Regarding the statement on the AD lawsuit. You state it goes against Ron Paul's own platform but it does not. He believes in peoples 1st amendment rights and believes we have a right to say anything or do anything we want to as long as it doesn't hurt any one. This AD was intended to hurt at least one if not two people. It was certainly made to perpetuate the falsehood that Ron Paul is racist.

    Vote Ron Paul 2012

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