The ugly truth about Ron Paul
One of the good things about the craziness that has been, and remains, the race to be the Republican nominee for president is the fact that with each new surging anti-Romney, and with each new "frontrunner," the media have finally been required to do their jobs and look into what these leading Republicans, and indeed much of their party, are actually all about.
For example, while many of us knew full well (and had known for a long time) that Michele Bachmann was insane, her high-profile opposition to the HPV vaccine, wrapped up in her usual conspiracy-theorizing, pushed her insanity further into public view. Similarly, her (and her "cure 'em" husband's) anti-gay views revealed her to be an unabashed bigot. And because she was, for a time, the hottest Republican candidate going, the media could not help but do some probing.
The same has been true of the others, and we're seeing this now with Ron Paul, who has long been seen as a principled libertarian who speaks truth to power in the GOP (and who even has his admirers on the left) but who, while certainly a sort of libertarian, has throughout his long political career held and advanced despicable views and revealed himself to be an ugly racist. Put on the spot, Paul has responded with denials and general "no comment"s. But again, and to their credit, the media are doing what they ought to be doing and digging a little deeper than usual (in this case encouraged and cheered on by Republicans appalled with Paul and fearful of the damage he's doing to their party). And more and more ugliness is coming out:
Texas Rep. Ron Paul has distanced himself from a series of controversial newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s that bore his name and included inflammatory and racially charged language.
As the newsletters burst into view, first during his 2008 presidential bid and again in recent weeks after he climbed to the front of the Republican race in Iowa, Paul has blamed the writings on ghostwriters. He said he was not aware of the "bad stuff," as he described it.
But one of Paul's own books, published solely under his name, contains several passages that could be problematic as he attempts to push his libertarian message into the political mainstream.
In his 1987 manifesto "Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution after 200-Plus Years," Paul wrote that AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle, questioned the rights of minorities and argued that people who are sexually harassed at work should quit their jobs.
The slim, 157-page volume was published ahead of Paul's 1988 Libertarian Party presidential bid and touches on many of the themes he continues to hammer on the stump.
Returning again and again to the of concept of "liberty," he hails the virtues of the gold standard, attacks the Federal Reserve and defends the rights of gun-owners.
But the book, re-issued in 2007 during Paul's last presidential bid with a cover photograph of an ominous SWAT Team, has so far escaped scrutiny amid the latest furor over his newsletters.
Well, now that he's doing so well in Iowa, with a strong showing expected, that scrutiny is happening. Now. And not a moment too soon.
What's interesting is that Romney has, for the most part, escaped such scrutiny. Sure, his opponents have brought up his various inconsistencies and tried to focus (the media's and Republican voters') attention on Romneycare, but no one has been able to stay on top long enough to keep up a sustained attack -- in part because the pro-Romney Republican elites have been knocking them off one by one. And so we've basically spent most of our time tracking the dramatic rises and falls of these anti-Romneys while Romney himself has been able to skate by largely untarnished.