James Kirchick of the New Republic has done a great job of debunking Ron Paul by tracking down archived copies of Paul's newsletter and by closely examining Paul's ideological roots and associations. This piece is a must read for anyone interested, as I am, in making sure that extremism doesn't sneak into the political mainstream within a Trojan horse.
from The New Republic: Angry White Man:
If you are a critic of the Bush administration, chances are that, at some point over the past six months, Ron Paul has said something that appealed to you. Paul describes himself as a libertarian, but, since his presidential campaign took off earlier this year, the Republican congressman has attracted donations and plaudits from across the ideological spectrum. Antiwar conservatives, disaffected centrists, even young liberal activists have all flocked to Paul, hailing him as a throwback to an earlier age, when politicians were less mealy-mouthed and American government was more modest in its ambitions, both at home and abroad. In The New York Times Magazine, conservative writer Christopher Caldwell gushed that Paul is a "formidable stander on constitutional principle," while The Nation praised "his full-throated rejection of the imperial project in Iraq." Former TNR editor Andrew Sullivan endorsed Paul for the GOP nomination, and ABC's Jake Tapper described the candidate as "the one true straight-talker in this race." Even The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper of the elite bankers whom Paul detests, recently advised other Republican presidential contenders not to "dismiss the passion he's tapped."
Most voters had never heard of Paul before he launched his quixotic bid for the Republican nomination. But the Texan has been active in politics for decades. And, long before he was the darling of antiwar activists on the left and right, Paul was in the newsletter business. In the age before blogs, newsletters occupied a prominent place in right-wing political discourse. With the pages of mainstream political magazines typically off-limits to their views (National Review editor William F. Buckley having famously denounced the John Birch Society), hardline conservatives resorted to putting out their own, less glossy publications. These were often paranoid and rambling--dominated by talk of international banking conspiracies, the Trilateral Commission's plans for world government, and warnings about coming Armageddon--but some of them had wide and devoted audiences. And a few of the most prominent bore the name of Ron Paul.
Paul's newsletters have carried different titles over the years--Ron Paul's Freedom Report, Ron Paul Political Report, The Ron Paul Survival Report--but they generally seem to have been published on a monthly basis since at least 1978. (Paul, an OB-GYN and former U.S. Air Force surgeon, was first elected to Congress in 1976.) During some periods, the newsletters were published by the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, a nonprofit Paul founded in 1976; at other times, they were published by Ron Paul & Associates, a now-defunct entity in which Paul owned a minority stake, according to his campaign spokesman. The Freedom Report claimed to have over 100,000 readers in 1984. At one point, Ron Paul & Associates also put out a monthly publication called The Ron Paul Investment Letter.
The Freedom Report's online archives only go back to 1999, but I was curious to see older editions of Paul's newsletters, in part because of a controversy dating to 1996, when Charles "Lefty" Morris, a Democrat running against Paul for a House seat, released excerpts stating that "opinion polls consistently show only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions," that "if you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be," and that black representative Barbara Jordan is "the archetypical half-educated victimologist" whose "race and sex protect her from criticism." At the time, Paul's campaign said that Morris had quoted the newsletter out of context. Later, in 2001, Paul would claim that someone else had written the controversial passages. (Few of the newsletters contain actual bylines.) Caldwell, writing in the Times Magazine last year, said he found Paul's explanation believable, "since the style diverges widely from his own."
Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first person, implying that Paul was the author.
But, whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles (except for one special edition of a newsletter that contained the byline of another writer) seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing--but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.
read the rest...