How Ron Paul Assimilated the GOP

December 24th, 2011 at 9:08 am | 83 Comments |

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With Ron Paul for the moment topping polls in Iowa the Republican Party is moving into full freakout mode. Unfortunately the GOP panic over Paul is about a decade too late and entirely misdirected. Despite the brief surge, sick Paul has no more chance of winning the Republican nomination than you do (excluding you, sick Mitt). Paul isn’t likely to be the nominee, but that should not offer Republicans any comfort.

The Presidency isn’t the only prize in politics. In the measures that really matter Ron Paul is probably already the winner of this year’s race. By patiently accumulating power he has built a political block that will influence policy regardless of who wins the White House in 2012.

By any conventional yardstick Paul is a failed politician. Sure, he served twelve terms in the House, but that achievement leaves him trailing such towering figures as Dante Fascell (19 terms), Ralph Regula (18 terms) and dozens of other people you’ve never heard of. His legislative agenda is an almost universal failure. Every one of his campaigns for higher office has ended in defeat. Superficially, Paul has lost every battle he’s fought and yet he is probably the most successful political figure of our generation.

Paul has done what John McCain, in the wake of his failed 2000 nominating campaign, declined to do – transform himself into the focus of a wider political movement. Each of Paul’s failed campaigns has been a tool to refine his organization, gain new precinct chairs and convention delegates, and eat away at the old Reaganite policy establishment issue by issue, plank by plank.

Despite his reputation for uncompromising politics, Paul has steadily polished his appeal over the years. He has distanced himself from the hard-edged racism of his ‘80’s-era Confederate Libertarianism, though he has remained understandably popular among the extreme racist fringe. He has tempered his stances to shape a modern Neo-Confederate movement more acceptable to the critical block of religious fundamentalists.

This emerging coalition, best seen in the success of his son Rand, has become the intellectual heart of the Tea Party Movement. While John McCain played the game by its conventional rules, molding himself into the shape of a candidate who could win an election, Paul has instead molded himself into a candidate who can determine policy. McCain saw himself tied in knots by the demands of “winning” in 2008, badly limiting his appeal. His loss after years of carefully calculated pandering has left him neutralized as a political force. Paul disregarded conventional definitions of victory and built a movement that could extend well beyond his own political career.

Paul’s success matters because no matter who wins in 2012 they will find their policy options tightly constrained by the movement he has helped to construct. A potential Republican President will find himself in a particular bind. Just look at what’s happened to John Boehner. And coming in Paul’s wake is Rand Paul, a far more telegenic character who has mastered the Neo-Confederate synergy of Ante-Bellum Dixie economics and old-tyme religion. The organization Ron Paul has built could reach a tipping point under Rand’s influence.

For rationalist Republicans struggling to regain some relevance in the party Ron Paul’s success is particularly instructive. Instead of engaging in the contortions that created John McCain’s 2008 “success” in the nominating campaign, we might be better off repeating the apparent failure of 2000, following such failures with carefully grassroots coalition-building. The White House is a hollow prize for anyone who can’t influence the base.

Politics is not about winning elections, it is about wielding power. Paul offers some valuable lessons in politics that rationalists could put to use.

Recent Posts by Chris Ladd

83 Comments so far ↓

  • dante

    I know you guys want to get the coronation of Romney over and done with, but we *do* have to go through with the nominating process… And I have to say, numbers and polls aren’t looking that good for Romney these days so I wouldn’t get the t-shirts made up quite yet. Romney’s *ONE* strength is his supposed electibility. That’s it. He’s been reduced to campaigning on the sole notion that he’s the only one who can beat Obama… Well, the latest CNN poll has Romney doing *similarly badly* as Ron Paul when facing Obama; they both lose 45 to 52%.

    If Romney doesn’t have his electibility, what does he have? A good haircut? Wishy-washy positions?

    I welcome a Ron Paul nomination. I welcome it because it will a) allow Obama to tack to the left on foreign policy and military issues since Ron Paul is further left than he is, and b) it will allow the country to have a SERIOUS DEBATE on the size and level of government. Ron Paul has said he wants to eliminate the FDA, the FAA, the SEC, etc. He’s called SS and Medicare unconstitutional. He’s against FEMA and the Americans with Disabilities act. He is the ULTIMATE Tea Partier (or rather, who the Tea Party would be if they had convictions instead of being blatant hypocrites).

    So let’s have that discussion. Let’s have that fight once and for all. If Americans want to get rid of SS and Medicare, let’s have a vote on it. Same with the rest of the government “intrusion” into our lives.

    And all you have to do is nominate Ron Paul to have that discussion.

    • OldMojo


    • Emma

      Here’s the problem. Paul will not be permitted into the tent of serious debate and discussion because to do so would be to legitimize the baggage he brings with him — namely, his history of virulent anti-black, anti-gay, and anti-semitic statements and innuendos. I know, he’s disavowed all that (“I didn’t write it”, “I didn’t say it”, “I didn’t sign it and I don’t know who did”, or “you’re taking it all out of context”), but not convincingly to the gatekeepers of our national discourse.

      For what it’s worth, I believe he did write, say, and sign that stuff. Such views were common in Texas until recently (and still persist in many quarters). As a politician, he capitalized on it — it was the norm in his day and in his community of KKK enthusiasts. However, in the eyes of many of our gatekeepers, including Frum, what distinguishes Paul is the acrid scent of pent-up evil.

      • anonoped

        For what it’s worth you may believe something but in reality you’re not too bright.

        Ron Paul was a publisher not a writer.
        To hold Ron Paul responsible for what was published would also require the publishers of CNN to hold Gloria Borger accountable for her yellow journalist attack of Ron Paul. (here’s a hint, she’s a manager and she’ll probably get a bonus)

        Here’s where your idiocy shines.

        “as a politician, he capitalized on it — it was the norm in his day”

        Ron Paul was not in office and Political Correctness had not been invented or progressed to the point is now. Additionally, please let me find you doing something normal on Facebook so I can wield it in front of your employer or PTA board 20 years from now and then watch you get fired or lose social stature.

        It’s a fun game the whole world can play. Everyone else can join in…

      • Geprodis

        I honestly think Paul is telling the truth about the newsletters. I don’t think he has a big ego like most politicians; I think he’s a true believer. I think he believes in his message very strongly – a message which has never included ant-gay, Jewish, or black statements.

        This “scent of pent-up evil” you mention is your own delusion.

        I get a sense of evil from the Patriot Act. The very name is Orwellian. I think you need a fresh perspective Emma.

      • dante

        It’s not that hard. You’re looking *way* too far into this, when the attacks are already written and staring you in the face. In this political climate, if you can’t describe the attack in 10 words or less, you’ve lost your audience. Trying to convince the American public that “20 years ago someone other than Ron Paul wrote racist articles for Ron Paul’s newsletter that Ron Paul may or may not have read and has since disavowed means that Ron Paul is racist.”

        34 words isn’t going to work.

        “Ron Paul thinks Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional”.

        9 words. Easily backed up by clips from earlier this year where Ron Paul states that very fact.

        “Ron Paul wants to get rid of the FDA.”

        Again, 9 words. It’s simple attacks, not long and complicated ones. Trying to pin the “racism” label on Rand Paul didn’t work. Trying to pin it on Ron Paul won’t work either.

      • Peter Halferding


        4 years ago, these Newsletters turned up, but before Jamie Kirchik wrote about them in The New Republic, there was already rumour on the Internet about Newsletters that would be his weak spot.

        This hasn’t stopped him.

        What is surprising is the fact that regular rumours indicate that Lew Rockwell and/or Murray Rothbard wrote a lot of that material. This was because they discovered in 1988 that they got the most (campaign) donations from the circles of survivalists, militia etc. from them sending out political requests to mailinglists run by Holocaust deniers.

        It is this lapse of judgement that really did split them apart from the Beltway Libertarians, whom the people around Rockwell despise, and that is now hitting them.

        It is called Blowback and Ron Paul is extremely fond on using that term Blowback when he discusses foreign policy.

        A proper question to Ron Paul hence would be, how he deals with this particular Blowback, because as a US President he might expect a lot of blowback to occur sowed by his predecessors, and dealing with “Blowback” is a key capability a US President should have.

        Up to now Ron Paul thinks that ignoring it instead of responding with a vengeance is the most effective route to follow his own “blowback from the past”.

        We will see if that happens to be successful.

    • Emma

      anonoped: You state Paul was the publisher of his newsletter, not the writer. Exactly what is your evidence for this? You also imply that Paul never read his own newsletters; otherwise, he would have put a stop to them since they said things in his name which he did not believe. What is your evidence for this? Ditto for the fundraising letters on his Congressional stationery that carried his signature.

      • Secessionist

        Where is the evidence Paul didn’t write or read them at the time? You mean other than Paul himself says he didn’t? Other than he says he didn’t AND the fact Paul has made no other public statements across his entire career that reflect the views in those newsletters? Strange, no, if Paul is such an avowed racist.

        There is plenty of credible evidence that Paul didn’t write the newsletters (he says he didn’t write them; he has no public history of lies, reversals, flip-flopping or inconsistencies which makes the denial credible; and no one has been able to point to any other statements by Paul that are consistent with the views in the newsletters).

        You also offered no evidence whatsoever that Paul has a history of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay statements or innuendo. Where are the statements from Paul’s own mouth? Again, there aren’t any.

        If the newsletters are your evidence, well then it needs to be said again that the statements at issue are 1) over 20 years old, 2) were not written by Paul, 3) have been disavowed by Paul, 4) have been taken out of context by dishonest people with an agenda to make them seem worse than they are, and 5) in full context weren’t even racist under most definitions of racism. You can call them racist if you want to, but it’s nothing but subjective opinion.

        Paul is already in the national conversation. Why do you think so many people are attacking him? The people who support Paul don’t give a crap about 20 year old statements that don’t reflect the man’s views. What people care about is that Paul won’t start a war with Iran, and Romney and Obama will. Obama has already approved a covert war on Iran, and that war is underway.

    • Geprodis


  • freedomfighter

    This article is hilarious. FIrst Ladd writes by all accounts Paul has already won in the sense of power. Then he wants us to believe he is now a failed politician, pointing to his failure to accomplish anything in Congress. Well, that says something about Congress and the corrupt system, not Paul. And the exact reason why Paul would make a great President.

    This is the problem when you don’t have a sense of principals. They’re all over the place.

    We get it. The establishment does NOT want Paul for President. You cannot make it more obvious, but even if he isn’t, times are changing very quickly and the main stream media is dying and losing control over the minds of the people. That is a great thing.

    • Graychin

      Good column, Mr. Ladd.

      FF, I think that you miss the point.

      Paul is an “unsuccessful” politician in that he hasn’t passed any legislation. There can be no debate about that. In Congress he’s been just an odd note from the back bench.

      But nevertheless Paul has been remarkably successful as a movement-builder. I first became aware of organized libertarianism way back in 1980. (I even voted for the L.P.’s presidential candidate in 1980 as a protest vote, although I can’t remember the candidate’s name now.) But in all that time Ron Paul is the only person who has been able to spread the libertarian gospel beyond a tiny (and very wacky) fringe. Today Paul’s followers and their anti-government cousins who call themselves the Tea Party are on their way to completely co-opting the Republican Party. They still struggle with the Theocrats and the Country Club set for dominance of the party, but in my view the libertarians are winning the argument. The Theocrats are in decline, best seen in the nation’s increasing tolerance for the Theocrats’ bête noire of gay marriage. The Country Club set is now identified with Wall Street, in opposition to the “99%” movement. Their decline is shown by the inability of Mitt Romney to poll above 25% – anywhere, except perhaps in New Hampshire.

      You might say that John McCain has been a “successful politician.” But what is his legacy? How does it measure up to Ron Paul’s legacy?

      This morning Intrade gives Paul a 7.8% chance of winning the Republican nomination. I think that’s generous, because I suspect that his enthusiastic followers are bidding him up beyond his actual value. It ain’t gonna happen. But Paul’s movement will remain.

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  • bdtex

    This article is actually 2 articles. Here’s the part I liked about the John McCain article:

    “McCain saw himself tied in knots by the demands of “winning” in 2008, badly limiting his appeal. His loss after years of carefully calculated pandering has left him neutralized as a political force.”

    He reminds me of the 2 old guys sitting up it in the balcony heckling the other characters on The Muppets.

  • armstp

    If he wants to further increase his power, he should run as a third party candidate, which I would not rule out. He will clearly gain more respect if he did. The party elders will then have to take him seriously.

    I would also add the Paul has enriched himself with his politics. How much of his donations does he pocket?

    • anonoped


      Please wake up.

      The timelines to run third party have past. The ONE PARTY (a.k.a. Republican & Democrat) have incrementally passed rules and laws preventing ‘others’ (Read 3rd Party) from being able to run for office.

      If you wanted Ron Paul or Donald Trump to be president then you should have submitted their names and paid a crap load of money to each states registration office last year sometime.

      It’s nice you’re somewhat semi-curious about politics but the first rule you need to know is “The ‘fix’ is in”.

      • Bagok

        How condescending Anon. Armstp was being facetious. But please, continue to lecture on the obvious.

  • jg bennet

    Ron Paul is a product of a Richard Nixon dirty deed called the southern strategy.

    The Southern Strategy was a Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters (generally lumped under the concept of states rights).

    It was first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon in the late 1960s. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party….. The GOP apologized for it a few years ago.

    Ron Paul and many other republicans are actually neo-confederates, that is why the whole big government is the enemy, states rights, free trade crap took over the GOP and morphed it into basically the southern democrat party.

    The RINO’s are the Ron Paul’s & 80% of the party. Paul is a classical liberal/confederate thinking southern democrat not a Republican.

    The GOP was assimilated by the South after the success of the southern strategy transforming the party beliefs into the classical liberalism of the South..

    No way you say?

    The most representative defenders of classical liberal tradition were southerners such as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, who perceived the Republicans as the party of big government, conspiring to take away local authority, individual freedom (especially property rights), and the proper Constitutional authority of the states. The Confederate revolution was, in large part, a classical liberal one, an inconvenient truth for the thesis presented here.

    In his book What They Fought For, 1861-1865, historian James McPherson reported on his reading of more than 25,000 letters and more than 100 diaries of soldiers who fought on both sides of the War for Southern Independence and concluded that Confederate soldiers (very few of whom owned slaves) “fought for liberty and independence from what they regarded as a tyrannical government.”……..

    These sound like Ron Paul stump speeches

    The letters and diaries of many Confederate soldiers “bristled with the rhetoric of liberty and self government,” writes McPherson, and spoke of a fear of being “subjugated” and “enslaved” by a tyrannical federal government. Sound familiar?

    Many Confederate soldiers thought of the war as “the Second war for American Independence.” A Texas cavalryman told his sister in a letter that just as earlier Americans had “rebelled against King George to establish Liberty and freedom in this western world . . . so we dissolved our alliance with this oppressive foe and are now enlisted in The Holy Cause of Liberty and Independence again.”

    Another theme in these letters was that many Confederates believed that they were fighting to defend their property and families from a hostile invading army. “We are fighting for matters real and tangible . . . our property and our homes,” wrote a Texas private in 1864.

    Check out Ron Paul’s former chief of staff Lew Rockwell’s website

    • Graychin

      “The GOP apologized for it (the Southern Strategy) a few years ago.”

      They did? Really? It appears to be alive and well, apology or not.

      Willie Horton has morphed into the flap over the Black Panthers.

      • Jack E. Lope

        RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman did apologize for The Southern Strategy, in July 2005. (A search engine can find you many articles about it on the intertoobs.)

        But, as you point out, the apology was given too late – the views had already been assimilated in the the base, and the power had transitioned to those with Dixie yearnings.

    • Geprodis

      jg bennet – your post was rambling and wrong.

      Ron Paul is the leader of the libertarian wing of the Republican party.

      When the Republican party moves too far to the center he flirts with leaving the party and joining the libertarian party…but he would much rather convert the Republican Party.

      That’s it.
      The Neo-Confederate label is a distorted view of Ron Paul.

      • jg bennet

        Ok then if I am distorting can you help clear up my distortion? Explain this…….

        1. Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.

        2. Libertarianism has been used in modern times as a substitute of neo-classical liberalism.

        3. The most representative defenders of the classical liberal tradition were southerners such as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, who perceived the Republicans as the party of big government, conspiring to take away local authority, individual freedom (especially property rights), and the proper Constitutional authority of the states.”

        4. Lord Acton, the great classical liberal, viewed Southern secession as an attempt to preserve a constitutional liberty. Following the Confederacy’s defeat, he wrote to Robert E. Lee: “I saw in States’ Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will…. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization.”

        5. Ron Paul lectures at the Classical Liberal Mises Institute & his former Chief Founded the institute.

        Now, click on the link below to Paul’s favorite think tank where he sells his books & lectures (the Mises) READ THE LOGO and explain my distortion on Paul’s confederate tag.

      • Peter Halferding

        What is called Libertarianism in the USA, because the Democrats have run with the epithet Liberal, is called Conservative Liberalism or Anarcho Liberalism in Europe.

        In Europe there are Conservative Liberals, Social Liberals, Anarcho-liberals and Left-Liberals. The Anarcho-liberals are often, even to their own surprise, viewed as lefties.

        Ron Paul’s flavor of Libertarianism is a mix of Conservative-Liberal and Anarcho-Liberal views.

  • ScottyTReid

    I guess if people keep saying Romney is the nominee is enough that it might actually happen. One group the writer leaves out is Blacks and Hispanics and others who have been a target of the Drug War and the unfairness of the justice system. Ron Paul is the only candidate, Dem or Rep who has spoken clearly on these issues. Ron Paul polls the highest among minorities, a key demographic of President Obama. I will continue to talk about Ron Paul and tell minorities to register as Republicans to vote for Paul in the primaries. IF the GOP was ever serious about attracting minorities to the party then they should have taken a cue from Ron Paul on policy issues. Simply electing a Black man as the head of the RNC was not enough, especially Black men like Steele and thank God that Herman Cain is out of the race, we were tired of his minstrel show.

  • Secessionist

    Ron Paul is a better man than Mitt Romney, David Frum or any person Republican or Democrat who supported the Iraq War will ever be.

    Let’s keep it straight.

    Ron Paul opposed the Iraq War. David Frum supported it.

    David Frum’s neocon, Israel First, dual loyalist buddies inside the government and the media also supported it.

    The GOP candidates David Frum admires most supported it.

    In addition to the trillions in treasure, the net effect was:

    - 4,404 American dead

    - 31,827 American wounded (most of them horrible wounds)

    The dead and wounded were also disproportionately drawn from America’s poor, working class and middle-class citizens — a fact seldom mentioned — but who cares, right?; it was just a bunch of sp*cs, n*ggers, and White trash after all.

    How many people in David Frum or Mitt Romney’s social class bled out in Iraq?

    Meanwhile, the Iraqi civilian casualties have been estimated at 103,000 at the low end to over a 1,000,000 at the high end.

    Although repeated use of the “racist,” “fringe,” and “neo-confederate” buzzwords will shut down a lot of peoples’ higher brain functions, you will never convince rational people who stop for a second to think it over that decades old newsletters and unorthodox views on the Civil War make the good-country doctor Ron Paul worse than those monsters.

    FWIW, the “racist” newsletter dustup is also a lot of BS.

    Most of the quotes being bandied about were taken out of context to make them seem much worse than they were when read in context.

    Justin Raimondo explains here why the neocons hate Ron Paul.

    It’s no mystery, really: Ron Paul is, in many ways, the exact opposite of the Beltway fake-“libertarians.” He’s a populist: they suck up to power, he challenges the powers-that-be; they go along to get along – he has never gone along with the conventional wisdom as defined by the arbiters of political correctness, Left and Right. And most of all, he’s an avowed enemy of the neoconservatives, whom he constantly names as the main danger to peace and liberty – while the Beltway’s tame “libertarians” are in bed with them, often literally as well as figuratively.

    • jg bennet

      Elliot Ackerman is a rich kid that bled in the wars, is the executive director of Americans Elect & hoping to change the status quo in our politics.

      His father is billionaire Peter Ackerman who is the founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict……..

      Elliot Ackerman’s combat story

      Insurgents had a relatively free run of Fallujah the six months preceding November 2004. With little or no Coalition presence in the city, they had turned the urban landscape into a warren – like maze of fortified positions, booby traps, and sniper positions. The terrain could not have been more demanding for the Marines called in to clear the city. First, however, they had to establish a foothold, a task that fell in part to then-2nd Lt. Ackerman and his platoon. On November 10th, he and his men entered the city in what became a six-day struggle to open operational lines.

      Insurgents attacked from numerous directions as Ackerman’s Marines pushed into the city. Twice in the early moments of the shooting, Ackerman braved enemy fire to pull injured Marines to safety – and then organized their evacuation. But in the midst of the battle, the vehicle sent to recover the injured could not find their position. Ackerman charged from his cover into the open, dodged what his citation calls a “gauntlet of deadly enemy fire,” and directed the vehicle to the Marines.

      Later, as Ackerman and his team were clearing a building, he noticed that his Marines were exposed on a rooftop. After ordering them down, he took their place and began marking targets for tanks as insurgents fired at him from all directions. Despite suffering shrapnel wounds, Ackerman continued to direct the attack, and coordinated four medical evacuations. “There is only one alternative,” Lt. Ackerman said later. “It is to do it or not do it.”

      For his leadership and actions, Ackerman was awarded the Silver Star on Jan. 12, 2007.

  • valkayec

    Following the TNR link Noah provided, I read the article and was suitably disgusted by the newsletters. Then I moved on to other stories at TNR about the newsletters which sickened me even more – I need a shower now to wash the slime off me from just reading portions of the newsletters – which led me to an article in reason magazine, written in ’08 by Julian Sanchez & David Weigel about the newsletters and who wrote them. ( It appears that Lew Rockwell was the principle author, although he denies it. Yet, several other libertarians who ran in the same circles with Rockwell acknowledged it was an open secret than Rockwell was the chief author. Following that line, I looked up Rockwell’s bio (founder of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute – in Alabama!) on Wikipedia and got another sour, sickly taste of this ugly, strange conglomeration of neo-confederate radicalism and racism, christian evangelism and anti-semitism, bastardized libertarianism, and conspiracy-theory philosophy.

    By contrast, the libertarians at Cato and the Austrian School are models of humane sainthood and sound reasoning.

    Nevertheless, Paul should not be exempted from from blame for the contents. They were written under his name, and it was his personal responsibility to approve or disapprove of the contents. To deny so, denies the concept of personal responsibility. Moreover, as the reason article clearly states, the more radical, racist, and outrageous the article became, the more money they raised for Paul to continue his political career. It’s no wonder the Tea Party and Religious Right hold the radical views they do, if the works of Rockwell and company were the kind of literature they were reading and absorbing.

    I also read the the wikipedia site on Paul legislative history. It shows a marked tendency toward conspiracy theory – for example, that the nation is under threat of take over by the UN and a distinct desire to return to a pre-Constitution union. The kind of one Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Mason, an others wrote to each other about, saying the Articles of Confederation and their current Congress was just not working and, thus, advocating a stronger central government with a single coinage and the authority to tax.

    No one can sensibly separate – or subtract – a person’s past views from his present views. Those views are part of the whole. No one can reasonably ignore his wild imaginings and neo-confederalist policy promotion just because he’s anti-war and anti-war on drugs. He’s a whole person with radical views that have perverted the national conversation. Better, you should promote conservative Ron Johnson who is also anti war, anti-war on drugs, but does not promote neo-confederalist, conspiracy-theory radicalism. Or even Jon Huntsman.

    Again, Paul’s ideology, put into practice as much of the Tea Party and Religious Right appear to want, would destroy the nation, turning it into a worse copy of the Eurozone.

    • FoolForum

      You act is if “the right” were great consumers of his newsletters back then, when his positions were exactly the same as they are now. He was even MORE fringe when those letters were published, they didn’t even have the internet, so I highly doubt he had very much if any influence outside of Galveston politics. You make it seem as if he was circulating, even worse, writing, all the crackpot literature of the day.

      • valkayec

        Not quite. He had a very large mailing list…and made over a million dollars on those newsletters.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      I’m not going to argue with you on the moral wretchedness of the Paul/Rockwell newsletters (I don’t see how any well adjusted person could), but I’m puzzled by your remark that the CATO institute is humane and reasonable only in comparison to a racist crank like Lew Rockwell. I’ve read a few of David Boaz’s books. I have profound disagreements with many of the arguments expressed within them, and especially with their prefab reliance on ideology at the expense of pragmatism, but they are at all events thoughtful as well as highly readable. “Libertarianism: A Primer” is a pleasant and instructive read, and I would recommend it to anyone curious about libertarian thought.

      • valkayec

        I was speaking solely about libertarianism as a philosophy between the camps. I judge Cato to be more aligned with the Austrian school than I do the Ron Paul camp. I also accept that the Austrian school is the quintessential arbiter of libertarianism.

        In case I failed to make myself clear, I meant that Cato, as an example of real libertarianism, seemed far more humane in its libertarian philosophy than Paul’s newsletters presented him or his thinking. Mind you, I’m not a libertarian, but I’ve had several discussions with Austrian school libertarian followers, most particularly of Friedrich Hayek. As a result, I have a fairly good idea of Hayek’s ideas on politics and commerce and their intersection in public life.

        I simply don’t find Paul’s philosophy comes anywhere near the standard set by Hayek or the Austrian school while Cato does come closer in most respects. For example, I cannot imagine anyone who follows Hayek saying the things in Paul’s newsletters. Nor can I imagine Cato blessing similar thoughts. Which is why I say Cato seems far more humane than what was written in Paul’s newsletters.

        Did I clarify myself any better? I hope so.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      For a moment you had me all excited, thinking that I had somehow overlooked the fact that Ron Johnson opposed drug prohibition, foreign interventionism, etc. So I tried verifying, came up totally empty, and then realized you meant to refer to GARY Johnson, but had accidentally morphed his name with Ron Paul’s. Alas!

      It’s kind of weird how when you morph Ron Paul and Gary Johnson you come up with a Catholic fanatic whose one major ‘achievement’ in public life is that he unseated a senator who has done way more for the cause of limited government than any teabagger ever will.

      • valkayec

        Oops. Sorry, my mistake. Thank you for correcting me.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          Still a huge shame that teabagger Ron Johnson isn’t more like the bad assed Gary Johnson!

        • valkayec

          Yeah, I’m not a libertarian – it’s a bit too idealistic for my nature – but Gary Johnson has a lot going for him regarding conservative political philosophy. And if you’ve libertarian leanings, he’s a much better choice with much better ideas and not so much cracker barrel baggage.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      I just read for the first time the Paul Newsletter article that laments David Duke’s loss in the 1991 LA gubernatorial election. I strongly suspect this was the work entirely of Lew Rockwell. David Duke’s political beliefs– which amount more or less to rightwing populism– are diametrically opposed to libertarianism, and as such probably anathema to even a semi-libertarian like Ron Paul, though they no doubt would have strong appeal to the Neo-Confederate Rockwell.

      • valkayec

        I suspect that in part is why the general consensus is that Rockwell did the writing. Nevertheless, his doing so should not let Paul off the hook. He had the responsibility to make sure that anything going out under his name, as if he wrote it, conformed to his own philosophy. Moreover, since Rockwell was Paul’s chief of staff and head of Paul’s campaigns, he would know exactly what Paul thought so writing anything under Paul’s name that did not conform to what Paul thought would appear to be a violation of his duty to reflect Paul accurately.

        Did you read the reason magazine article I referenced? If not, please do so. It adds a lot to story.

    • Geprodis

      The newsletters keep being brought up by people unable to successfully attack Paul’s domestic and foreign policy.

      Ron Paul is giving speeches and talking to the press whenever he can, and he never even hints at being anti-Jewish or anti-black.

  • jg bennet

    A sign the South won

    The Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) is a political event held in the Southern United States before each presidential election. The event is attended by Republican Party activists, elected officials, and candidates for office.

    ****It was formerly known as the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.*****

    They dropped the Southern this year for the first time & look who is leading in the polls, a neoconfederate.

    Assimilation complete.

    I would love to see an article on Frum about the success of the southern strategy and how it transformed the GOP.

  • Secessionist

    I read through some of the newsletter PDFs. I saw a lot of blunt truth and some unkind stereotyping. However, many (not all) of Ron Paul’s critics love peddling unkind stereotypes about Southerners, conservative Whites in general and evangelical Christians of all races. The unkind stereotyping in the Ron Paul newsletters was no better and no worse than than anti-conservative stereotypes that appear on this Web site ever day. Again, in context, there is nothing racist in those materials — just blunt truth and the harsh stereotyping that for good or ill appears often in political writings.


    Not that the newsletters matter very much since Ron Paul has disavowed those positions. The goal, of course, in bringing up 20 year old materials that Paul has repudiated is to steer people away from discussing the substance of Paul’s views today (anti-war, anti-war on drugs, cut defense spending, no war on Iran, etc).

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      You seriously don’t consider it racist to say that the LA rioters only let-up in their mayhem so they could cash their welfare checks? Or to speculate that had their checks not arrived that they would have done away with the welfare state entirely and taken the system of free-enterprise to whole new levels through their re-intensified looting?

      Only a southern cracker or one of his cousins in the western or midwestern hinterlands could believe in all seriousness that the vile propaganda alluded to above is not racist.

      • Secessionist

        The word racist is imprecise and overused. The word is used to describe everyone from Nazis to people who oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.

        The word racist is in fact so comically overused that a lot of people make fun of it.

        I like this guy’s take:

      • anonoped

        So you attribute RonPaul to actually writing this statement? In the reality of him being the publisher has nothing to do with it?

        Let’s look up Ron Paul’s lifetime actions:

        Votes for MLK holiday.
        Rejects medicare/medicaid payments from the government and provides free medical care to Blacks and Hispanics for free for forty years.

        Yea, super racist. Although I’m not sure your definition matches mine.

        • Secessionist

          …[Ron Paul] provides free medical care to Blacks and Hispanics for free for forty years.

          Citation? I have never heard Paul mention it. If it’s true, that Ron Paul gave away his professional time and talent to Blacks and Hispanics for free for 40 years, then it just puts the people smearing Paul with these newsletters a little deeper into the sewer in my book.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          I wasn’t attributing the statement to anyone, although if you want to press me on the matter I’d wager that Rockwell wrote it. I was merely objecting to Secessionist’s dismissal of these newsletters as inoffensive.

    • valkayec

      I feel awfully sorry for you if you don’t see the nasty racism and anti-semitism contained in those newsletters. I lived in the South (Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky) for a lot of years both as a kid and as a young wife to a Vietnam vet and mother. I saw the harm racism does. Even bright, shining kids of color who might have grown into doctors or scientists were discouraged and told they could never succeed so why bother to try; just accept that the systems demands that you’ll always be a second class citizen at best.

      My Dad was pretty racist as a result of his upbringing in Missouri during the 20s and 30s, but had I been old enough I would have marched with Dr. King because I believed then as I do now that the color of one’s skin has nothing at all to do with the content of one’s character or the degree of one’s native intellect. In this case of nature vs nurture, it’s definitely nurture that allows people of all colors to succeed.

      The author of Paul’s newsletters, with his tacit agreement, obviously do not believe as I do and pushed a David Dukes, KKK, neo-nazi ideology. And the more outrageous their statements, the more money they brought in. That’s awfully sad, especially in a day and age when genetics and DNA research have shown unequivocally that all races began in Africa, and that skin color along with various other traits (eye color, hair color, nose shape, etc) are the result of evolutionary natural selection in order for homo sapiens to deal with environmental conditions, i.e. light and heat. The self identifying Jew Jesus, himself, looked more like a Saudi Arabian of today than an Anglo Saxon; yet, his words and ideas changed the world.

      If you look at race from a purely scientific viewpoint or even the view of Jesus, it’s nothing but a human construct based solely on economic and false status-seeking aggrandizement.

      If you look at Jews from a Medieval/Renaissance point of view – Shakespeare’s “pound of flesh demanded” – then all you see is greed. Nevermind that Jews voluntarily donated most of the money required to buy Richard the Lionhearted’s freedom, and nevermind that Jewish precepts require giving away once every seven years as much of one’s fortune as accumulated during a set period of time.

      All of these things make a mockery of Paul’s newsletters…and not only a mockery but an ideology that should and must be rejected by every thinking, rational, God-fearing human being alive.

      And what about his newsletters promoting the idea of secession? As told in those newsletters, it’s something that seriously should be considered if the federal government continues to exert pre-eminent authority over the states as noted in the Constitution. Yet, 150 years after the Civil War, Paul’s newsletter are arguing once again that the federal government has no authority over the states – even though Madison et al argued the federal government would – and should – on laws that affected the entire nation or in relations with other nations or on interstate commerce or in common coinage to protect commerce and the nation’s credit abroad or on various other national standards that served and protected the nation and her people. Paul’s newsletters attempt to shred all that Madison, Jefferson, Mason, Washington, and so many others, from Maine to Georgia, worked so hard to achieve and so many more lost their lives and fortunes to keep in the latter 19th Century.

      Paul allowed those newsletters to go under his name. Would you do the same, even if someone else were writing some of them, if the views expressed did not conform to your beliefs? Would you then state, “Gee, not my fault; I didn’t know what was in them even though they had my name on them”? That’s a plain, old fashioned cop-out. A massive failure of personal responsibility. The buck stops at the boss’ desk. At least it did when I ran a multi-person department. I had the ultimate responsibility for everything my subordinates did, right or wrong. If they screwed up, I was the one responsible; I bore the ultimate responsibility because they worked for me. Sorry, but Paul does not deserve or get a “get out jail free” card from me.

      Those newsletters are slimy and sleezy and filled with conspiracy theories as well as divisive propaganda in order to divide America. They pander to the least educated who seek some – or any – status symbol to affirm they’re not on the bottom rung of the ladder or affirm their centuries held belief in their own superiority; pander to a wide range of conspiracy theorists who see a government take over around every corner or worse a fascist government, from Eisenhower onward, in the making; or con susceptible people into buying his newsletters and donating heavily to his campaigns for is own benefit.

      No thanks. I’ll support Jon Huntsman before I support Ron Paul and his quasi-libertarian, neo-confederate, Ayn Rand, John Bircher and KKK approving, racist destruction of the greatest and growing democracy since man stepped down out of the trees in Africa.

      To use another term, “hell no, I won’t go” that route!

  • Secessionist

    Again, the point of this bullcrap about newsletters, the civil war, fringe positions, etc. is to kick up dust to cover the neocon’s real concerns.

    Ron Paul is anti-war.

    Ron Paul will not launch a war on Iran.

    Ron Paul favors cutting the defense budget.

    And since all three of those things are not Israel’s interest even though they are in America’s interests, the neocons hate him.

    The neocons favor huge levels of American defense spending and an interventionist American foreign policy because those things benefit Israel.

    Don’t believe me?

    How about hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth?

    Here is the father of American neoconservatism himself, Irving Kristol, writing in 1973 in a publication from the American Jewish Congress.

    Senator McGovern is very sincere when he says that he will try to cut the military budget by 30%. And this is to drive a knife in the heart of Israel… Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States…American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.

    And here is Norman Podhoretz, the other father of American neoconservatism, in 1979 writing about American foreign policy:

    There was, to be sure, one thing that many of even the most passionately committed American Zionists were reluctant to do, and that was to face up to the fact that continued American support for Israel depended upon continued American involvement in international affairs– from which it followed that an American withdrawal into the kind of isolationist mood that prevailed most recently between the two world wars, and that now looked as though it might soon prevail again, represented a direct threat to the security of Israel.

    • valkayec

      What about everything else he or his newsletters promote? Should they not be considered too? Better you should vote for Huntsman or Johnson than one who would destroy our nation.

      • Secessionist

        I think people are losing sight of the big picture. Every candidate has flaws; the issue is whether the flaws matter given the candidate’s other strengths.

        So, what’s worse? Publishing those newsletters or supporting a needless Iraq war that cost over 100,000 human lives and by one credible estimate over 1,000,000??

        Ron Paul definitely won’t launch another war on Iran. I don’t know about you, but that is my single highest priority in a presidential candidate. Gary Johnson — I don’t know much about him — but he isn’t on the national radar right now whereas Paul is.

        Any other GOP candidate will launch a war at the first opportunity. We know that. Barack Obama, unfortunately, probably will too. Obama has already signed off on a covert war on Iran even though Iran hasn’t done anything. It’s sad.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          If more people would take the time to learn about Gary Johnson perhaps he would be on “the national radar.”

          Perhaps he’ll be on “the national radar” a few months from now after he’s had time to establish his presence as a third party candidate. I hope so.

        • valkayec

          Then start a movement to support Huntsman. He’s not into the whole neo-con, hawkish warmongering, and wants to bring our troops home as well as reduce our troops abroad. Moreover, he doesn’t hold the utterly crazy ideas that Paul does. At the very least, he’s a sensible, sane man who understands the world and global competition who won’t shred the government over some neo-confederate ideology that causes the country to lose completely it’s competitive edge and world standing. Paul, however, if given the chance, would send the country right back to 1750.

  • anonoped

    If this websites denizens are trying to paint Ron Paul as a neo-confederate please note, he was born and raised and has an education from a state ABOVE THE MASON DIXON LINE.

    Ya’ll are a bunch of retards sometimes.

    • valkayec

      Epic Fail.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      I wasn’t trying to paint Ron Paul as a Neo-Confederate.

      I wasn’t trying to paint Lew Rockwell as a Neo-Confederate, either. Such an effort would be gratuitous, seeing how he plainly is one.

  • mannie

    These Paul people seem to think you can unilaterally simplify a highly complex word. I think they would be in for a huge suprise the day they took office.

  • bamboozer

    Of all the people to let into thier “big tent” the Republicans have chosen Ron Paul and Grover Norquist. They may well wield power but it is a force of destruction and not infrequently hatred. It also ties the party into positions that strongly resemble being nailed to the cross.

  • jg bennet

    The Chairman of the RNC Lee Atwater said of the neo-confederate republican strategy……

    Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist, reported a 1981 interview with Lee Atwater, published in Southern Politics in the 1990s by Alexander P. Lamis, in which Lee Atwater discussed politics in the South:

    You start out in 1954 by saying, “Ni**er, ni**er, ni**er.” By 1968 you can’t say “ni**er”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff.

    You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

    And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Ni**er, ni**er”.

    Herbert wrote in the same column, “The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.’s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks…..

    Move forward a few decades and you have Ron Paul, a neoconfederate, leading the republican nomination.

    All part of the plan to use racism to win the white house.

    You republicans did this racist thing and need to acknowledge the fact!!

  • PW43

    The object of the exercise is to choose the president in 2012. Instead of worrying about things written decades ago, look at today’s options. Any choice, including Obama, other than Paul guarantees war with Iran and the continued corrupt economic policies. Paul’s economic positions may be extreme, however the status quo is no longer acceptable. Stealing from the average taxpayer to give to the rich should no longer be tolerated. Yet this is what every politician(except Paul) and economist is planning to continue. We’ve given these economic experts carte blanche for 30 years and look how they’ve screwed everything up. Yet they’re going to now magically fix it all? It’s time to think outside the box. Ron Paul is the only candidate giving voters that choice. If his economic policies fail then at least we might have a honest President who recognizes the failure and changes course. We know exactly what we’re getting from Obama and the other republican wackos – if the policy fails repeat it again and again. If invading Iraq was a disaster then let’s start a war with Iran!

    As for Paul’s racism, such accusations are speculative and, even if true, will be countered by the political correctness which rules American society today. In Canada we just gave a majority government to a man who is an enemy of universal health care. Yet we still have our health care system and will for years to come. You’re electing Ron Paul for President, not dictator. And he has a great deal more respect for the constitution than his rivals, who are all backed by people who would love a dictatorship.

    • valkayec

      Yes, we are picking a President which is why the candidates and what they write and think is crucial in determining who is most fit for the job. Paul’s stated platform is more than hard money, ending the fed, ending the numerous wars and semi-isolationism.

      Here are other policies he advocates:
      - Allowing states and companies to issue currency bonds to provide competition in money. Of course, that proposal is unconstitutional, but it gives you an idea of his thinking.

      - Eliminate all income, estate, and gift taxes as well as eliminating payroll taxes. So, how does he plan to fund even his limited government? Corporate taxes? Excise taxes? Sales taxes? Any and all of those taxes have some inherent problems.

      - Eliminate most all departments from the federal government, leaving presumably only Defense and State. Of course, he’d have to get Senate approval to do so, but he could refuse to name anyone to head those departments which would make them ineffective.

      - Eliminate most if not all regulations governing business activities, including financial, environmental and pharmaceuticals to name a few. These too would have to be approved by Congress, but his admin. could just avoid investigating and pursuing cases.

      - Phase out all income security programs to let the states decide if they want to provide these services. I’m sure that would work really well for seniors moving upon retirement from one state to another.

      - Permit, apparently, states to override any federal law with which they disagreed. That would provoke a constitutional crisis, I’m sure.

      There’s a whole lot more, but it’s enough to say his platform sounds very much like the US under the Articles of Confederation which we know from reading history was a complete disaster.

      • Geprodis

        Valkayek -Ron Paul, even with your distorted version of his political agenda, looks great next to Romney and Gingrich. Paul looks MUCH better than those 2. I like Gary Johnson’s policies…but he has even less charisma than Ron Paul! Huntsman is the status quo candidate, just like Romney, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.

        Ron Paul as President would not be a dictator..checks and balances…but he would cut spending and that is what the nation needs, not the status quo.

    • Geprodis


  • Secessionist

    A question for the Ron Paul haters.

    It’s well known that the War on Drugs, favored by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, disproportionately targets Black males. Many Black males are in prison (unfairly IMO) over drug offenses.

    Ron Paul wants to end the War on Drugs.

    Please explain how this position is consistent with being a racist since an end of the War on Drugs would 1) likely lead to drop in Black incarcerations and 2) reduce or end the scourge of drug violence in low income Black communities.

    This ought to be fun.

    • Jack E. Lope

      Please explain how the term “racist” can be applied only to persons whose every act is overtly racist. If the pedophile associates with children with whom he has never had sexual contact, has he proven that he is not a pederast?

      You are welcome to let us know that you find the racism – overt, covert, or performed-for-hire by his minions – inconsequential, but do not expect the rest of us to have the same priorities.

      You are also welcome to set up whichever goalposts suit your needs – but we can just take our ball and go home.

    • valkayec

      Dave Weigel over at Slate begins to answer your question regarding racism.

      Personally, I don’t think legalizing drugs is the most serious issue the nation faces; but, yes, it’s crazy to lock drug addicts up for years in prisons. Rehab works much better for hard drug users than prisons, and marijuana can probably be regulated to keep kids away from it. I’ve been seeing some signs in several states moving in the direction of non-incarceration for drug users, so maybe there’s hope.

    • Clayman

      ^+1 Secessionist for your posts.

      “I think people are losing sight of the big picture. Every candidate has flaws; the issue is whether the flaws matter given the candidate’s other strengths.”

      I would add that the Hippocratic oath he took 40 years ago still drives his thinking. I would consider voting for him in the General Election, and would definitely not vote for any of the remaining others in the GOP field.

  • Hunter1

    Obviously, some of the folks on this site are deeply committed to Ron Paul. They believe he is a genuine anti-war candidate, which they feel sets him apart from all the others. They also believe he is libertarian constitutionalist and, therefore, less likely to play fast and loose with our liberties.

    Others on this site don’t buy a word Paul says (Frum included). To them, Paul is a bigot — a particularly nasty bigot — and represents the lowest form of sludge in the Republican coalition. Just as scary to them is the suspicion that what attracts Paul’s considerable following is his racism and not his policy positions (e.g., returning to the gold standard) which strike them as just simple-minded lunacy.

    What is clear to me from reading these posts and related materials is that one side will never persuade the other. Nor do I get the impression that either side is truly interested in engaging the other in careful, measured discussion.

  • Rob_654

    Nothing like seeing a guy like Paul who decry’s the Federal Government and Spending and yet does everything he can to remain on the payroll of the American taxpayer.

    • Geprodis

      Rob_654 – Ron Paul is trying to save the American taxpayer money, also, he has a medical degree from Duke University and can easily support himself in the private sector.

      • Jack E. Lope

        I don’t know how you define “easily support himself”, but there’s a lot more money in publishing fear newsletters – so he could more-easily support himself by returning to that career. Then again, his time spent in office and running for President has been more lucrative than his medical practice. I suspect that his medical skills are a bit rusty, and that it would be quite a struggle to get back to practicing medicine.

        Dr. Paul is not board certified in OB/GYN, and he’s 76 years old. No hospital or medical group would hire him – so he would just have to open/expand a single-person private practice. (Does he have a practice any more? Texas Board of Medical Examiners does not have an address for one.) OB/GYNs tend to work in groups, due to the uncontrollable schedule. It is one of the top medical specialties in hours worked per week, averaging over 60 hours for those who are part of a group or hospital.

        According to Texas Board of Medical Examiners, he (or someone signing his name on his behalf, I suppose) claims to have been in active practice for 29 years…of the 47 years since he got his license to practice in Texas.

        • Geprodis

          given that Dr. Paul is against social security, I assume he has some savings.

        • Jack E. Lope

          So that brings to mind two issues:

          1. Why your emphasis on his MD? Since this leads right into “…and can easily support himself in the private sector”, it appears you think it would be easy to return to practice for money. Or is there just a need for authoritarian followers to emphasize the superiority of those whose authority they follow?

          2. As long as he is a political figure (elected or otherwise), I expect he will forgo the relatively small old-age benefit of SS. Turning it down should help his much more lucrative fundraising activities. Yes, he has forgone some perks – as trumpeted from the mountaintops by his minions – but he still porks up budgets for earmarks in his district, contrary to his heartfelt desire to save the American Taxpayer money. (He then votes against those budgets…knowing they will end up passing with his pork earmarks intact.)

        • Geprodis

          My point is (which you would have gathered if you were not completely bias) is that Ron Paul is not living lavish and he looks great compared to nearly all other politicians. Jack E. Lope…you are just bias against Ron Paul, and want to beat to death non-issues.

        • Jack E. Lope

          But you said, “Ron Paul is trying to save the American taxpayer money”, which is not fully backed by his actions. However, unlike most who show a pro-Paul bias, I do not see you stating that he Ron Paul consistent about anything…he’s a Politician.

  • nitrat

    Just curious…how do Paul’s number compare to Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, or any other third partier?

  • nitrat

    Libertarianism = judicial Originalism = really juvenile thought processes, allowing for an inordinate amount of intellectual masturbation which should have been outgrown by about age 35, on the far edge.

    • Geprodis

      Libertarianism is juvenile eh Nitrat? Please tell us your mature political philosophy.