Did I Give Paul a Pass?


Virginia Postrel has some critical words for reason's coverage of Ron Paul:

I do fault my friends at Reason, who… scornful of the earnestness that takes politics seriously, apparently didn't do their homework before embracing Paul as the latest indicator of libertarian cachet. For starters, they might have asked my old boss Bob Poole about Ron Paul; I remember a board member complaining about Paul's newsletters back in the early '90s. Besides, people as cosmopolitan as Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch should be able to detect something awry in Paul's populist appeals… I suspect they did but decided it was more useful to spin things their way than to take Paul's record and ideas seriously.

I can only speak for myself here, and I knew about the newsletters, and wrote that I did, way back in May 2007. Older, more experienced libertarians were telling me that they would be a problem for Paul. I asked Paul back then about the letters and have asked him (and the campaign) since then about support from Don Black. I wasn't ignorant of these problems and I wasn't covering them up. As Paul's campaign grew this stuff just lost importance to me. Paul disassociates himself from the newsletters (although not from all the people who wrote them) and the people running his campaign have no connection to that older, nastier iteration of his career. The campaign was growing so much larger and more interesting than the conspiratorial Paul circle of the late 80s and mid-90s.

In any case, the Paul pile-on is starting to get ridiculous. You can blame Paul and the ghostwriters for some of this, for keeping what was in the newsletters so quiet, but simply because so many of them are now out I'm seeing "damning" quotes that pad the lists without making Paul look out of line. The excitable Dan Koffler compiles some that wouldn't sound out of place, frankly, in a conservative blog or in National Review. For example:

Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country.

This is something Herman Cain says once or twice every hour.

The Earth Summit is the creepiest meeting of politicos since the first gathering of Bolsheviks. Officially known as the UN Conference for Environment and Development, it will be held in Brazil in June; bad guys from all over the globe will attend.

Silly, but sounds like something John Bolton would say.

I agree with Virginia's first response to the controversy: Libertarians have known for a while about Paul's more right-wing flashes. I was expecting a controversy like this to arise if Paul stayed in the race and made waves.