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.
But keep in mind that the most inflammatory comments were written during a rare lull in Paul’s political career when he wasn’t in or running for public office, between 1990 and 1994. He had renounced his affiliation with the Republican Party, and beyond an advisory role for the controversial Pat Buchanan’s campaign, he wasn’t under the glare of the public spotlight. He was moving in circles that often engaged in bordlerline-racist rhetoric. And there are few speeches or outside columns that Paul wrote during this time period with which to compare his newsletter.
Even if you ignore the newsletters, it’s difficult to deny that Paul is a conspiracy theorist and an extremist who indulges bigots, crackpots and anti-Semites, based on statements he’s made much more recently. Many of his positions also put him at odds with the Republican electorate. Politico outlines just six of his stances that will haunt him this election cycle, if the newsletter controversy ever dies down:
The “disaster” of Ronald Reagan’s conservative agenda
“I think we can further thank Ronald Reagan for doing a good job [on furthering the Libertarian Party]. He certainly did a good job in 1980 pointing out the fallacies of the Democratic liberal agenda and he certainly did a good job on following up to show the disaster of the conservative agenda as well.” …
Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional
Fox News’s Chris Wallace: You talk a lot about the Constitution. You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional.
Ron Paul: Technically, they are. … There’s no authority [in the Constitution]. Article I, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution are you getting it from? The liberals are the ones who use this General Welfare Clause….
American drug laws are designed to fund rogue governments, CIA programs
“I think that might be the No. 1 reason for the drug laws … to raise the funds necessary for government to do illegal things, whether it’s some terrorist government someplace or whether it’s our own CIA to fund programs that they can’t get Congress to fund. I think it’s tragic and the sooner we get rid of the drug laws, the sooner this will end.” …
U.S. foreign policy “significantly contributed” to 9/11 attacks
“The flawed foreign policy of interventionism that we have followed for decades significantly contributed to the attacks. Warnings had been sounded by the more astute that our meddling in the affairs of others would come to no good.” …
Returning white supremacist donation is “pandering”
“I think it is pandering. I think it is playing the political correctness.” …
The Civil Rights Act “violated the Constitution”
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty, it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society.”
This list doesn’t even include his vehemently anti-Israel comments, his opposition to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, his close relationship with unhinged conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, and his wild claims that there’s a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government and institute a “New World Order.”
So Paul’s supporters are right, to an extent – other than the newsletters, there is no evidence that he’s ever praised David Duke or decried the “evil of forced integration.” But there is plenty of evidence that for years Paul has aligned himself with – and benefited greatly from – the same movement that has spawned much of the racism and anti-Semitism on the right. Looking at his record and hearing his recent controversial comments, the content in the newsletters isn’t as “out of character” as some have tried to argue.