James Kirchick of the New Republic - home of the odious Jason Zengerle - offers "Angry White Man/The bigoted past of Ron Paul", an attempt by the Beltway establishment to sink his candidacy by revealing excerpts from his old newsletters. Apparently much or all of it was ghostwritten, and the campaign tries to portray him as a (per Kirchick) "naive, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his behalf". To a good extent that doesn't wash, and many of the quotes provided are indeed very questionable in and of themselves. (The Ron Paul campaign responds to the TNR piece here. See also the response from Thomas DiLorenzo (not Lew Rockwell as previously stated), in which he implies he might sue Kirchik for libel; the article implies that DiLorenzo is a neo-Confederate due to a conference he spoke at, when the conference actually dealt with the pre-Civil War northern secessionist movement.)
However, other quotes from the TNR piece beg for context, and others are craftily spun in order to make Paul look as bad as possible. Consider this:
That same year , citing a Christian-right fringe publication, an item suggested that "the AIDS patient" should not be allowed to eat in restaurants and that "AIDS can be transmitted by saliva," which is false.
There are at least three things wrong with that.
1. Per the Red Cross (link):
There are no known cases of saliva by itself spreading HIV... However, because there could be a risk of blood contact during prolonged open-mouth kissing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against doing this with a partner who has HIV.
So, outright calling it "false" isn't exactly honest, not that TNR has much familiarity with that concept.
2. In 1990, how many studies had been done on transmission via saliva? In 1990 - when the excerpt was written - was it still a very open question? [UPDATE: a search of the contemporaneous NYT and medical literature at pubmed.gov shows mixed results, with some saying it could be transmitted via saliva and some saying it's very unlikely; one HIV+ person was convicted of attempted murder after biting someone.]
3. Just because someone "cites" something doesn't mean that they agree with it.
Did Kirchick make a "mistake"? Or was he intentionally trying to deceive by confusing what we (mostly) know now with what was known in 1990?
Kirchick goes on:
The newsletters are chock-full of shopworn conspiracies, reflecting Paul's obsession with the "industrial-banking-political elite" and promoting his distrust of a federally regulated monetary system utilizing paper bills. They contain frequent and bristling references to the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations--organizations that conspiracy theorists have long accused of seeking world domination. In 1978, a newsletter blamed David Rockefeller, the Trilateral Commission, and "fascist-oriented, international banking and business interests" for the Panama Canal Treaty, which it called "one of the saddest events in the history of the United States."
I guess that reasonable people can disagree on whether the CFR and other Rockefeller-linked groups are just friendly social groups or whether they do attempt to run matters, but I suggest being very suspicious of hacks who try to claim the former. As for the Treaty, consider this:
...the White House in late 1977 directed the well-connected former chairman of the finance committee of the Democratic National Committee,
S. Lee Kling, to set up the "Committee of Americans for the Canal Treaties, Inc." (COACT). To anyone not aware of Kling's past or his mandate from the White House, COACT seemed like a grassroots, nonpartisan effort on behalf of the treaties... the list of COACT members included David Rockefeller (chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank)...
What's more, Paul's connections to extremism go beyond the newsletters. He has given extensive interviews to the magazine of the John Birch Society, and has frequently been a guest of Alex Jones, a radio host and perhaps the most famous conspiracy theorist in America.
Being interviewed by someone doesn't mean you agree with everything they say. And, while Alex Jones is a bit of a showman and does have some far-out-there ideas, others are not. And, unlike someone like Kirchick, he's willing to buck the establishment.
Note also this email he sent to a RP supporter a few weeks ago:
I don't think Ron Paul is a homophobe; I'm just cynical and enjoy getting supporters of political candidates riled up. If you were a Giuliani guy I'd have called him a fascist.
The recipient goes on to call Kirchick a "muckraker, a charlatan, and a hypocrite"; as for the part about "dishonoring" TNR with his presence, I'd say he fits right in.
UPDATE: John Gibson of Fox News did a radio interview with Kurchik here. It contains this absolutely incredible statement:
"When someone mentions the Trilaterial Commission in nefarious terms, you know that they're a little kooky... ...The Bilderbergers, that's a real out there conspiracy theory..."
Then, he pretended that Bohemian Grove was just a "men's social club in Northern California".
This guy is a complete establishment suck-up and apologist. While some of the theories about those groups are indeed out there, pretending they're just happy friendly social groups is something that no one who isn't just trying to suck-up should engage in. Also, he appears to be a fan of Rudy Giuliani; at the last link Rudy gives an award to David Rockefeller and mentions all the groups with which he's been associated, including the CFR and the Bilderbergers.
TNR has released some scanned copies of the newsletters here. I'm going to leave it to others to look through all of them but the first one in the "Conspiracies" section is from 1978 - well before some of RP's supporters were born - and it contains highlighted sections that apparently we're supposed to shocked at, such the fact that David Rockefeller is linked to politicians and the news media or that the true owners of the Panama Canal are not just the supposed owners. So? Another one in that section, a solicitation letter, is so over the top that I'm almost positive that Ron Paul himself didn't write it, and I don't think too many politician write their own solicitation letters.
UPDATE 2: This has got to be a joke. Little Green Footballs - added as a show of support to this site's "blogroll" after some incident a few years ago and just now removed - offers "Ron Paul's Personal Details in Racist Newsletter" (link). Apparently the fact that whoever wrote a paragraph knew that Ron Paul had grandchildren strongly implies that the author was Paul himself and not a surrogate.
UPDATE 3: Andrew Sullivan - someone who wouldn't last more than a week as a pundit if he allowed open comments - flees the ship for USS McCain:
After the awful news about Ron Paul's ugly, repellent past newsletters, I find myself rooting again for the man who was my second choice.
UPDATE 4: Via this guy in the comment at http://volokh.com/posts/1199830642.shtml#311903 consider this from their documents page:
A 1989 newsletter compares Salman Rushdie to Ernst Zundel, a Canadian Holocaust-denier.
The 1989 PDF (link) only "compares" their cases and points out liberal hypocrisy, calling out TNR by name (probably why they highlighted it; bolding added):
Would the New Republic, which has been sickenly pompous on Rushdie and in its hymns to secular humanism, defend things it would find heretical? The answer is no. This liberal magazine has past defended Canada's "anti-hate" law, which was used to fine and jail a Canadian author, Ernst Zundel, who questioned the historical reality of the Holocaust. Liberal newspapers like the Washington Post and the Boston Globe have also praised the Canadian law and this prosecution. I'll believe Establishment liberals are really committed to free speech when I see Norman Mailer and his cohorts wearing "I am Ernst Zundel" buttons and holding readings of his works. I personally am offended by writings advocating fascism, socialism, Communism, and other forms of special-interest big government. Many people understandably find Zundel's writings offensive. But his case is no different in principle from Rushdie's except that Zundel is poor and in jail, and Rushdie is rich and protected.
Politics · Tue, 01/08/2008 - 12:21 · Importance: 4