Politics

National Review Accuses Ron Paul of "vile conspiracy theories about September 11" While Deeming Only Romney, Huntsman, and Santorum Acceptable Nominees

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Will soon need to airbrush some gray

The Romney nod is no surprise, but it's always illustrative to see who conservatism's flagship deems worthy of the term. Excerpt:

Governor Huntsman has a solid record, notwithstanding his sometimes glib foreign-policy pronouncements; his main weakness is his apparent inability, so far, to forge a connection with conservative voters outside Utah. Governor Romney won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters' skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition. Senator Santorum was an effective legislator. He deserves credit for highlighting, more than any other candidate, the need for public policies that topple barriers to middle-class aspirations. Weighing against him is a lack of executive experience.

Much of the editorial is devoted to making the case against Newt Gingrich. Of Ron Paul we get just this: "Representative Paul's recent re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11 are a reminder that the excesses of the movement he leads are actually its essence."

Which "conspiracy theories," precisely, are the "essence" of the Ron Paul movement? The editorial does not say, though it would seem to be in reference to this story from last week:

"Think of what happened after 9/11, the minute before there was any assessment, there was glee in the administration because now we can invade Iraq, and so the war drums beat," Paul said Thursday night before a packed room of more than 1,000 students and supporters. "That's exactly what they're doing now with Iran."

Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer responded to the "glee" charge by tweeting, "The man is nuts."

Accusing administration officials of having experienced something akin to Christopher Hitchens' "feeling of exhilaration" post-9/11 may be both off-puttingly omniscient (if unsourced) and more than a bit rude (invoking as it does the image of a squeal for joy as the first tower collapses), but the only way you can convert it into a "vile conspiracy theor[y] about September 11," I think, is if you take it to mean that Paul is peddling some Bush-knew elixir here, which he clearly is not. As Conor Friedersdorf points out:

The implication is that Rep. Paul is a 9/11 truther -- you'd think, reading that one sentence, that Paul stated or implied the U.S. government either orchestrated or had foreknowledge of the attacks. In fact, Rep. Paul responded to the September 11 attacks by voting to authorize an actual war against its perpetrators; and as anyone who is even passingly familiar with his worldview knows, his controversial opinion is that Islamist terrorists attack the United States partly because they are furious about the quasi-imperial role America plays in their countries. The blow-back theory is itself controversial, but it is obviously different from 9/11 Trutherism.

Reason on Ron Paul here. NR link via the Twitter feed of Mornin' Joe Scarborough.