James Kirchick–contentions blogger and assistant editor at The New Republic –has a lengthy exposé of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul up at TNR. It delves into Paul’s history as a publisher of newsletters–anti-black, anti-gay, anti-Israel newsletters, to be precise. The picture it paints of Paul is not a pretty one: he comes off either as a hate-filled demagogue or as an “absentee overseer” (in Kirchick’s phrase) who allowed his staff and associates to publish their work under his name. One especially hilarious disavowal by Paul campaign spokesman Jesse Benton:
After I read Benton some of the more offensive passages, he said, “A lot of [the newsletters] he did not see. Most of the incendiary stuff, no.”
And there’s one passage that’s weirdly prescient. It calls to mind much of today’s fringe ranting and conspiracy-theorizing:
The rhetoric when it came to Jews was little better. The newsletters display an obsession with Israel; no other country is mentioned more often in the editions I saw, or with more vitriol. A 1987 issue of Paul’s Investment Letter called Israel “an aggressive, national socialist state,” and a 1990 newsletter discussed the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise.” Of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newsletter said, “Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.”
Plus ça change, I guess.