Friday, January 27, 2012

Avert Your Eyes

Over at The Atlantic Megan Mcardle lays waste to the already-vanquished corpse of Ron Paul on the "racist newsletter(s)" issue. She refers to the startling and damning evidence unveiled by WaPo this morning - former associates have claimed that Paul had at least some direct role in his newsletters...sometimes. As to direct involvement in signing off specifically on the pieces in question, it remains not as clear. This prompted tones of finality on the subject for Mcardle and others who, from my point of view, are either being too cute by half or naive on the matter. My understanding of his newsletters was that, like many people with newsletters, it was in his name for administrative reasons, with only occasional oversight and contribution from him. So, unless your belief is that Ron Paul is saying he's never had anything to do with what's published in his newsletter or that he's saying he's been the chief editor for all the pieces, then I'm not sure how the WaPo "revelations" move the chess pieces.

After reading the piece, you're back at where you started. He had some level of direct interaction, but for the most part it was left to his associates. So now there are two floating claims - one that is true and one that is questionable but unlikely. The latter being that Paul himself is a racist - which, in this context, would hinge on if he had direct involvement with the articles in question. He denies it. We know who officially wrote it (read: Not Paul). And there is little, if anything, he's said over his career that should (operative word) lead anyone to believe he's a racist. The other claim, that he had a subordinate working for his newsletter that was allowed to write an article with racists tinges, is obviously true. Meghan Mcardle picks up on this claim, as it is the least contentious, and contends that this makes Paul unfit to be a leader (surprise, surprise). She says this alone should disqualify him.

Let's think about this for a moment. Let's look at some of what the other Republican candidates are bringing to the table:

- Threats of re-intervention into Iraq
- Escalation of hostilities with Iran
- Escalation of hostilities with Pakistan
- Escalation of hostilities with China
- Barriers to trade with China
- Barriers to trade with Mexico
- Economic sanctions against Iran
- Escalation of War on Terror
- Escalation of War on Drugs
- Promises to Run Government "Like a Business"
- No Serious Re-Working or Repeal of the ACA
- A Buffering of Executive Power(s)
- A Constitutional Amendment on Marriage
- Financial Subsidization of the Move to Militarize the Police
- Continued Stimulus and Bailouts
- Continued Policy of Assassinations and Detainment (even of American Citizens)
- Increased Military Spending
- No Serious Attempt to Reform Broken Social Service Programs
- Continued Grant and Protection of IP

Alright, now let's think back to what it was that simply disqualifies Ron Paul in the presidential race according to Mcardle:

- Someone who Worked for Him 30 Years Ago Wrote a Couple of Racist Statements

I have no way to get into Mcardle's head and figure out how and why her priorities for presidential candidates fall the way they do. All I know is that, even if she disagrees formally with the remaining candidates, she doesn't feel any of what I laid out above would disqualify them for her consideration...but that having a former association with someone who wrote something trivially disparaging some years ago is enough to completely throw you out of the running altogether. Her assessment comes down to, "Good leaders with atrocious policies are fit for office. A leader with an administrative mis-step and excellent policies is not."

Mcardle implicitly asks us to avert our eyes when it comes to what a president might ACTUALLY DO, and instead posit our complete understanding of their political merit in the most questionable (albeit ethereal) association they may have had with some other person in their life. Yes, Reverend Wright, America's chickens are certainly coming home to roost. I'm not sure exactly what pseudo-libertarians and conservatives think they're doing by putting Dr. Paul on the proverbial cross, but I think it's a seriously flawed political calculation on their part...and one that will cause them what would otherwise be an electoral victory this time around.


  1. If it weren't for the stakes involved, I would just crack a beer, make some popcorn, and settle in to enjoy watching this lot try to shout down their own consciences.

  2. I'm usually not the type of person to stick my neck out there and make predictions on this kind of stuff I've had a feeling where some of this might be heading. Paul would gain some statistical traction within the Republican party (and I think he has), he will not receive the nomination (I think that's pretty clear too), he will not receive the outreached hand for the VP either (we'll see). I retain that he might be offered some kind of administrative seat...but even that's doubtful to me. The upshot of all of this - and this is where I'm sticking my neck out - I think the loss of would-be crossover vote (from independents and Democrats), as well as the refusal of support for Romney by more libertarian-leaning members of the Republican Party, will start to unveil a growing schism in the numbers regarding a Romney/Obama matchup. At that point, I expect some fracturing within the "right" that we haven't seen in quite a long time. I see at least 4-6 years of increased success on the federal level for left-leaning candidates. If it's as bad as I think it's going to be, I'm even willing to entertain the idea that self-avowed non-leftists will have two complete presidential election cycles in the wilderness from 2012 forward.