Rep. Ron Paul’s chief defense against criticism over what he himself concedes is objectionable material in his newsletters is that he didn’t know the content was being published. This has always been a hard claim for me believe – at the very least, presuming Paul was letting content be published to his newsletters that he didn’t know about, it shows a rather astounding level of poor judgment – but it becomes harder when videos emerge of Ron Paul touting these newsletters as he prepares for re-election in the mid-1990’s.
First there was a video last week of Paul promoting his newsletters, while recalling specific content from them, now here’s video of Paul endorsing his Survial Report newsletter, which contained most of the controversial content, and citing it as evidence of his qualification to be elected to return to Congress.
It strains belief that Paul didn’t know what was being written in these newsletters. It’s also unbelievable that a man who has made a career on his transparency and consistency would try to sell the public on such blatant mistruths like the idea that he wasn’t aware of the content. Or that he didn’t know who wrote it.
I’d have a lot easier time dismissing this if Paul weren’t so clearly lying about the provenance of the newsletters.
Of course, on the flip side, the New York Times wants Paul to answer for the fact that racists support his campaign:
Mr. Paul’s surprising surge in polls is creating excitement within a part of his political base that has been behind him for decades but overshadowed by his newer fans on college campuses and in some liberal precincts who are taken with his antiwar, anti-drug-laws messages.
The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.
But he did not disavow their support. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.
I think that’s a logical position for Paul to have. He can’t control who supports him. If the endorsement of a white supremacist group were, on its own, enough to undo Paul the endorsement of Barack Obama by the Communist Party USA should have been enough to undo him.
That being said, Paul’s disavowal of these groups happens in the context of his having accepted a $500 contribution from Stormfront leader Don Black during the 2008 presidential cycle and then refusing to return it once it was disclosed. Paul claims that he was standing on principle, that he’d gladly take the money of racists and use it for non-racist causes, but this stuff adds up. The newsletters. The flirtations with conspiracy mongers.
Politics, for better or worse, is about perception. And Paul has got to understand how these things make him perceived.