Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ron Paul Conundrum

I have trouble getting my head around Ron Paul.  The big boy bloggers seem to have the same problem.

Andrew Sullivan endorses Paul for the Republican nomination because Paul is relatively strong on civil liberties and doesn't seem to be a politician for hire.
And I see in Paul none of the resentment that burns in Gingrich or the fakeness that defines Romney or the fascistic strains in Perry's buffoonery. He has yet to show the Obama-derangement of his peers, even though he differs with him. He has now gone through two primary elections without compromising an inch of his character or his philosophy. This kind of rigidity has its flaws, but, in the context of the Newt Romney blur, it is refreshing. He would never take $1.8 million from Freddie Mac. He would never disown Reagan, as Romney once did. He would never speak of lynching Bernanke, as Perry threatened. When he answers a question, you can see that he is genuinely listening to it and responding - rather than searching, Bachmann-like, for the one-liner to rouse the base. He is, in other words, a decent fellow, and that's an adjective I don't use lightly. We need more decency among Republicans.
On the other hand, Jon Chait asserts,
Ron Paul is not a kindly old libertarian who just wants everybody to be free. He’s a really creepy bigot.

Around four years ago, James Kirchick reported a lengthy story delving into Paul’s worldview. As Kirchick writes, Paul comes out of an intellectual tradition called “paleolibertarianism,” which is a version of libertarianism heavily tinged with far-right cultural views. The gist is that Paul is tied in deep and extensive ways to neo-Confederates, and somewhat less tightly to the right-wing militia movement. His newsletter, which he wrote and edited for years, was a constant organ of vile racism and homophobia. This is not just picking out a phrase here and there. Fear and hatred of blacks and gays, along with a somewhat less pronounced paranoia about Jewish dual loyalty, are fundamental elements of his thinking. The most comparable figure to Paul is Pat Buchanan, the main differences being that Paul emphasizes economic issues more, and has more dogmatically pro-market views.
Tod Kelly damns with faint praise.
And for all the talk of him being a crackpot, in my mind he in not nearly as bats**t crazy as Gingrich or Bachmann.
In short, the big boy blog community seems to indicate that a man who has published or, at the very least, has lent his name to racist, homophobic publications and who wishes to return the country to the gold standard has more character, is better on civil liberties, and has a range of policy ideas that are sounder than those of every other Republican candidate in the race.  It is indeed a curse to live in interesting times.

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