Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Split in the Paul Campaign?

Per David Weigel, Ron Paul last week approved a press release that would have acknowledged Lew Rockwell's role in the newsletters, but it was quashed by campaign manager Kent Snyder.

If true - and the campaign has issued a non-denial denial - then this is either a clever leak or a piece of news that restores some of my lost respect for Ron Paul. There is no information as to the exact content of the quashed release, but the fact that Paul himself approved it suggests that he personally understands the gravity of the situation a bit more than we so far know.

I have continued to think a lot about this issue, and I think there are a few things that can happen that would make me willing to get back on the Ron Paul bus or at least regain some of the good that his campaign had previously been doing for libertarians of all stripes, "cosmos" and "paleos" alike.

1. A statement from Ron Paul (preferably on camera, but a press release might be ok) that simply comes clean about the whole matter. At this point, we pretty much know the circumstances surrounding the newsletters thanks in part to Reason's excellent article yesterday. The press release should come clean about his involvement in the newsletters, and their purpose. It should further state that Paul welcomes support from any quarter in his campaign for freedom, but that the attempts made by some of his newsletters to appeal for support on extremely un-libertarian and racially incendiary grounds was, to say the least, stupid.


2. A statement from Rockwell acknowledging his own role in the newsletters, indicating that he was responsible for the content at issue here, that the racial content was extremely ill-conceived. If Paul was not in fact involved in the most racial newsletters, then Rockwell must make the circumstances of this lack of involvement clear.

I realize I have no right to either of these two things. However, if I am to vote for Ron Paul, I need some kind of specific evidence that shows either that Paul understands the gravity of the situation and how poorly it reflects on him personally and on libertarianism more generally OR that Paul in fact new nothing about the racial content in the newsletters. While the latter shows poor management ability, it does not undermine his value as a protest vote or as a symbol of libertarianism (in my view). What does undermine his value as a protest vote and as a symbol of libertarianism is that these newsletters, with their blatant racism, went out under his name and, it would seem, with his knowledge. It is one thing to accept racists under your tent; but it is quite another thing to actively recruit them by using blatantly racist and inherently un-libertarian terms.

***NOTE- the newsletters I am concerned with are exclusively the racially incendiary ones; the conspiracy theory stuff and the anti-Israel stuff are not inherently un-libertarian, even though I may disagree with them in substance.