Some Ron Paul supporters act as if the newsletter controversy is the only real obstacle to him being taken seriously as a Republican contender. A few have even argued, in the comment section here and other places, that the content in the newsletters doesn’t match anything Paul has otherwise ever said or done.
On the last argument, these supporters have a point. The worst of the bigotry in the newsletters – i.e., mocking black people as lazy criminals and defending Holocaust deniers – goes well beyond anything Paul has said publicly, at least that we are aware of.
I want to thank Peter Wehner for his gracious remarks about my response to his pieces about climate change and the responsibility of conservatives to take a constructive approach to the issue. There is, as he said, much we agree upon, and I continue to be impressed by Peter’s seriousness of purpose and his desire to conduct this discussion on a high plane where hysteria and neo-religious rhetoric about global warming are out of place.
However, I also want to briefly respond to two of his points.
The Washington Post has an article today about the umpteenth instance of failed talks with the Taliban, with the U.S. apparently offering to release Taliban detainees from Guantanamo in return for a (worthless) promise from the Taliban to renounce international terrorism. The deal was scuttled, according to the Post, by (legitimate) objections from Hamid Karzai, but it is not clear if the administration could have carried out its end anyway because of domestic opposition to releasing more hardened terrorists from Gitmo.
What was really fascinating to me in this article was a section from the middle:
Reason Magazine’s Nick Gillespie attempted yesterday to confront the dirty little secret about Ron Paul. The libertarian hero may be leading in some Iowa polls, but as the story about the racist newsletters that were published under his name in the 1980s and 90s catches fire, his more respectable backers need to face up to their candidate’s past. To his credit, Gillespie admits that it’s not a “smear” to bring up the issue of the Texas congressman’s connections to hate literature as well as to 9/11 truthers, the John Birch Society and conspiracy mongers like Alex Jones. Gillespie even owns up to the fact that Paul has had as many different answers to the question of his connections to hate as Herman Cain did about allegations of sexual harassment.
But rather than fess up to the fact that their presidential standard-bearer has been a magnet for crackpot racists who regard the United States government as the enemy, Gillespie tried to argue that this ought not to “invalidate” his candidacy because a) Paul is a nice guy; and b) the hate he promoted and the lunatics in his camp are not as bad as the system he’s trying to destroy. Like a good Marxist, all Gillespie can do is to claim that the end justifies the means. But as anyone who listens to him discuss foreign policy, far from being tangential to Paul’s crusade, his hate connections are integral to his appeal on the margins of society.
With the New York Times and Washington Post both examining the existence of a “new” Newt Gingrich–the Post concentrates on Nice Newt and the Times on Grandfather Newt–it’s worth remembering that the emergence of a more reflective Gingrich is not all that recent.
Though Gingrich didn’t run in 2008, he was back in the spotlight and part of the conversation again. As far back as December 2007, New Newt was already here. Gingrich was asked to participate in Foreign Policy magazine’s symposium on what the next president should do about foreign affairs once he settled in, and Gingrich’s answer was, “Listen”:
Yesterday, a barrage of at least 15 bombs were set off in Baghdad, which according to press reports rocked almost every major neighborhood in the Iraqi capital. Dozens of people were killed. We’re seeing a dramatic resurgence of sectarian and ethnic divisions. And the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, issued a warrant for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni leader who has since fled to the autonomous northern Kurdish region. (Maliki has ordered the Kurds to “hand over” Hashemi or face “problems.”) This is precisely why U.S. commanders recommended we maintain a residual American force of 15,000 to 18,000, in order to keep violence down, ethnic divisions in check, and Maliki in line. But President Obama thought he knew better, and now we have no U.S. presence in Iraq to speak of.
Until now, Iraq had made impressive strides since the civil war that almost consumed it in 2006. But it has been a fragile affair. Iraq, and especially the Sunnis and Kurds, needed an American presence to continue to help bind up the wounds of the war. It was perfectly predictable that if America withdrew its troops, trouble would follow. And now trouble has come, only a week after the president declared Iraq to be “sovereign, self-reliant, and democratic.”
The payroll deal is is being billed as a House Republican defeat, and from a political optics standpoint it is. But the deal, which was passed by unanimous consent, actually isn’t bad for Republicans, especially considering some of the new language that was inserted:
The deal entails a new bill with language protecting small businesses from a measure in the Senate bill that creates temporary new caps on the wages that are subject to payroll tax relief, a Republican aide said. Sen. Harry Reid accepted the House Republicans’ proposal late this afternoon.
The bill will be passed by unanimous consent, which would not require all the members to return for a vote.
Following the pattern set by some major American cities, which have tried to reduce the supply of firearms by offering to buy guns brought in by the public, the United States is attempting to purchase missiles circulating in Libya. One of the downsides of the fall of the Qaddafi regime was that his huge collection of military toys is now on the open market since militia members and other Libyans gathered it up in the aftermath of the civil war that brought the dictator’s rule to an end. According to the New York Times, the Obama administration’s plan is as follows:
The United States would provide money and technical support to Libya’s government, which would purchase the missiles, and either lock them up in government arsenals or destroy them.
According to the Times, programs like this have worked before in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the $40 million the administration has allocated to deal with the problem should do the trick. But the State Department, like the Times reporting of the story, seems to have forgotten that some of the most dangerous weapons in Qaddafi’s arsenal are not laying around in basements in Tripoli waiting to be turned in for U.S. cash. They’ve already been exported to Gaza.
Gov. Chris Christie’s term will be up in January 2014, which would mean he’d have to cut out early from his current position to run for VP. He was also the first to argue that he doesn’t have a personality suited for the second-in-command position.
But I guess if he could reconsider a presidential run back in September, there’s no reason why he can’t also reconsider a vice presidential bid:
A new Gallup poll shows that throughout 2011, an average of 17 percent of Americans said they were satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is the second-lowest annual average in the more than 30-year history of the question (after the 15 percent from 2008). During the year, satisfaction ranged from lows of 11 percent in August and September to a high of 26 percent in May. And nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) currently mention some economic issue as the most important problem facing the country.
As a point of comparison, satisfaction has averaged as high as 60 percent in 1986, 1998, and 2000.
The question of what to do about anti-Israelist professors who use their position to propagandize against the Jewish state is one that has perpetually bedeviled campus Israel advocacy efforts. An article published yesterday in the UK-based Jewish Chronicle points to a strategy for handling the problem that may work.
While short on some details, the article explains how Smadar Bakovic, an Israeli postgraduate student at Warwick University, successfully had the grade on her dissertation marked higher after complaining about the anti-Israelism of her supervisor, one Nicola Pratt, an associate professor in “international politics of the Middle East.” Pratt is an outspoken proponent of boycotts and other unpleasantness against the Jewish state, whose extraordinarily strong record on women’s rights and equality clearly is no reason for warm feelings from an intellectual whose work focuses on “feminist international relations theory.” As a result, Bakovic requested from the beginning of her studies to be reassigned to a different supervisor, a request that was denied. Her final paper was nevertheless marked up 11 points by two other professors from the grade it had been given by Pratt, with the university acknowledging only that “we should have done more to allow Ms. Bakovic to change her supervisor at the very beginning” but, in a feat of exemplary doublethink, standing behind Pratt’s mark.
I’ve always been of the opinion that the idea there is such a thing as a Republican “establishment” is something of a myth. The GOP hasn’t really had anything approximating a ruling elite since conservatives nominated Barry Goldwater and booed Nelson Rockefeller off the stage at the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. The idea that Wall Street honchos or intellectuals running national magazines have any power over Republican voters and the party apparatus is based on a misunderstanding of how contemporary American politics works. The only thing that approximates an establishment is the family who produced two U.S. presidents during the course of a 20-year period encompassing the end of the last century and the beginning of the current one: the Bushes.
So the announcement yesterday that the elder George Bush is endorsing Mitt Romney comes as close as anything can to verifying one of the media’s favorite clichés about the Republican establishment’s role in the 2012 race. Given this mythical establishment’s lack of actual power and the resentment that the mere idea of its existence can conjure up among the party’s grass roots, it is doubtful the 41st president’s seal of approval will help Romney all that much. But what the Bush statement does do is make it clear exactly whom the GOP’s royal family doesn’t like: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.