More on Ron Paul

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

His campaign has issued a more strongly worded statement. That’s a start.

Meanwhile, longtime libertarian activists are speculating who wrote most of the offending passages.

This passage suggests Paul was naive and foolishly opportunistic, but not hateful.

As a writer and editor working in the libertarian movement at the time of these “Ron Paul” newsletters, I have vague recollection of “common knowledge”: it was known who wrote these newsletters, and why. It was money for Ron. It was money for the writers. And it was a way of keeping Ron’s name in the minds of right wingers with money . . . future donors.

It was designed to be entertaining writing. Provocative. It flirted with racism, like Mencken’s did, and Mencken was indeed the model. But these writings went further than Mencken usually did (for publication) along the lines of annoying the racially sensitive; and they sometimes did veer into outright racism.

I was embarrassed by the implied racial hatred, for the general level of hate regardlesss of race . . . and in part because the writing was so obviously not Ron’s, and so obviously the product of the actual writers, with whom I had tangential relations — is my editor’s* writer my writer?


Most of us “old-time” libertarians have known about this sad period of Ron Paul’s career from the get-go. We know that it was a lapse on his part. But we who opposed it (and not all of us did) put much of the blame on the writers involved, not on Paul, who was, after all, juggling family, medicine, politics, and continued study of actual economics. That Paul didn’t realize what he was doing to his own moral stance is amazing. His style is one of earnest moralizing. That fits his character. The ugliness of this career move speaks a sad story.

It also says the harshest thing about Ron Paul as presidential timber: he let himself be so easily used and influenced.

Make of that what you will. I find it plausible. It doesn’t excuse Paul, any more than the GOP can be excused for winking and nodding at racists for political gain throughout the 1980s. But it does at least fill the gap between the hateful invective in those newsletters and Paul’s more mild-mannered temperament. Sounds like a bunch of young paleo-libs were rather enjoying the opportunity to do churn out crappy imitations of Mencken prose while taking advantage of Paul’s name and the absence of responsibility that comes with an anonymous byline.

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25 Responses to “More on Ron Paul”

  1. #1 |  Benjamin | 

    To even classify what was written as “crappy imitations of Mencken prose” is an affront to anything Mencken has ever written.

  2. #2 |  Adam W. | 

    Lew Rockwell, huh. It’s possible. When the Rockwellians are right they’re right, but when they’re wrong…

  3. #3 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    No offense, but given past history I wouldn’t trust Eric Dondero as a reliable source on the inner workings of the Ron Paul campaign.

    Maybe he’s right for a change, but I’d like to see another source to confirm that.

  4. #4 |  B | 

    I don’t know…Dondero outing Rockwell really only supports the campaign’s position that this stuff was the work of ghost writers.

    To my mind, it’s only suspect if Dondero has a beef with Rockwell even bigger than the one he has with Paul.

  5. #5 |  B | 

    That said, I also would like to see another source. Ideally Rockwell.

  6. #6 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    >To my mind, it’s only suspect if Dondero has a beef with Rockwell
    >even bigger than the one he has with Paul.

    Or if Dondero himself was the writer. His firing was never really explained, and it would also explain the start of the bad blood between him and Paul.

  7. #7 |  tarran | 

    There is no way that Eric Dondero wrote those pieces; they were too sophisticated. Eric Dondero’s conception of political philosophy consists of identifying whose on his team, whose not on his team and then a series of hyperbolic blistering ad-hominem’s at his perceived opponents.

    I would love to run Eric’s writing through one of those prose complexity algorithms. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was writing at or below a 9th grade level. Those articles were written at closer to a 12th grade level. So no, it wasn’t Eric who penned those articles.

    I think that Eric and Paul disagreed strongly on the War on Some Terror, and each was glad to be rid of the other.

    My money is still on Gary North. Incidentally, I strongly urge everyone to email Gary North, Lew Rockwell, and any other people whom you think would know who penned those articles, and ask politely for them to relay a message on your behalf to the the authors, requesting that the authors do the right thing and come forward and explain how much editorial control Ron Paul had.

    If the authors want Ron Paul’s candidacy to continue and not implode, they need to do the right thing and rescue Ron Paul from the bind he’s in. otherwise while preserving their reputations they will put back the cause of freedom another half generation easily.

  8. #8 |  Jonathan Goff | 

    Weird. I used to read Gary and Lew quite often back in the day (I still lean fairly paleo these days, just not as much as when I was younger and more impressionable–I’ve mellowed out with age). I didn’t remember reading anything racist written by either of them. But I guess I did remember Lew being a little bit apt to open up the vitriol hose from time to time…I dunno. If it was a close friend like Lew or Gary, I could see Ron not wanting to ruin their names by outing them. I mean, I may have missed it, but I haven’t heard either of them say anything anywhere near as bad as the stuff in those TNR clippings. If one of them did have a hand in that stuff in the past, they may very well have grown up and mellowed out, and maybe Ron doesn’t want to see them crucified for stupid stuff they said anonymously 14 years ago. Still doesn’t reflect well on RP either way, but its at least plausible.


  9. #9 |  Sydney Carton | 

    WTF kind of explanation is this? Instead of exonerating the libertarian movement, this kind of explanation seems to make it sound even worse! This sort of thing was common knowledge at the time? That this sort of writing would be a revenue stream, instead of the discarded rants of a lunatic, is un-freaking-believable. And people knew it was a revenue stream??? And it was all such an open secret??

    You guys have some serious baggage. You couldn’t pay me to be called a libertarian.

  10. #10 |  Benjamin | 

    You guys? Hah. I wonder what morally perfect party you affiliate with.

  11. #11 |  Dale Boley | 

    Ron Paul is the only candidate that advocates a presidency(and federal government) too weak to act on kooky ideas.

  12. #12 |  Bradley J. Fikes | 

    I’m afraid Sydney Carton is right — libertarians who try to make excuses for the stuff published under Ron Paul’s name are only hurting themselves. I for one used to defend Paul. But there is too much stuff out there. And the Lew Rockwell Order of the Adorers of the Southern Confederacy has spent years putting a benign face on a pernicious chapter in our history.

    To accept the premise that Paul was just benignly ignorant of the stuff with his name on it implies a level of naivete unacceptable in a presidential candidate.

    Paul’s press release quotes him as saying: “For over a decade, I have
    publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention
    to what went out under my name.”

    What’s the evidence that Paul has done so?

  13. #13 |  MCLA | 

    Wendy McElroy claims she knows the ghost writer on a first name basis, but she isn’t naming names:

  14. #14 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    “You guys have some serious baggage.”

    LMAO Not NEARLY as much as either of the 2 major parties. We just have a few carry ons…you guys have filled up the cargo hold and STILL have to leave some bags behind due to lack of space…

  15. #15 |  Bronwyn | 

    Zappa’s figured it out! The 2 major parties spend all our money on excess baggage fees.

    We could get some serious mileage out of this metaphor.

  16. #16 |  Sydney Carton | 

    I see. So the defense to decades of delusional rants that were an “open secret” and were used to raise money from libertarians is to deflect, avoid, and obscure the problem.

    If it were just the derranged writings of Ron Paul, then you could sacrifice him at the altar of your precious ideology, saying that it’s his fault and his own responsibility. Instead of that, however, you have numerous ghost writers who everyone in the libertarian movement seems to know about, not only writing the most vile garbage imaginable, but using those rants to raise money from the readers! That makes it a far bigger problem than just one man.

  17. #17 |  Bill | 

    “‘You guys have some serious baggage’?”

    Ron Paul is running as a Republican, and has been elected and re-elected as a Republican, never as Libertarian, so if you are a Republican rather than a Libertarian (meaning the party, not simply an adherent to libertarianism), then his bagggage is your baggage. Republicans and Democrats already have plenty of ugliness in their past, so seen in that light it’s not much of a big deal.

    I did go and read the first PDF file on the web site, the one from around the time of the LA riots. While I did find it ugly, I think it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t sound like Ron Paul’s “voice”, and also that the overall message of the article doesn’t so much espouse the racist idea that blacks are inferior and dangerous, but that the welfare system is harming blacks by teaching them a sense of entitlement. The tone is offensive, maybe inflammatory, though, and it’s very easy to pull out chunks of it and use them as damning quotes.

  18. #18 |  Graham | 

    As some have said, this is old news. And no, he’s not a racist, and yes, this does reveal a troubling lack of oversight and managerial skills in a Presidential candidate.

    But you know what? It doesn’t matter. This campaign was never (for me) about actually winning the Presidency, which as Radley said was never going to happen. It’s about getting people to talk about liberty, and I have no problem continuing to support Dr. Paul’s campaign as long as he does that. His actual executive competence has never been a concern for me.

  19. #19 |  Chris Grieb | 

    Could it have been Samuel Francis?

  20. #20 |  jsabotta | 

    it’s about getting people to talk about liberty, and I have no problem continuing to support Dr. Paul’s campaign as long as he does that.

    Well, now it’s also talking about vile racialism, and for that you can thank – apparantly – the Confederacy-suckers at Lew

  21. #21 |  Jim Henley | 

    Could it have been Samuel Francis?

    It reads like stuff one saw in the 90s on the LRC site and in the front pages of Chronicles. In particular, Chronicles writers made a big, big deal about the King plagiarism scandals – except for John Shelton Reed, who kept some perspective and declared that everyone owed King a debt for his part in ending segregation. There was a slightly more downmarket variation of the same stuff that Borders used to sell – a true newsletter, saddle-stapled on manila paper. Sobran’s? Something else?

  22. #22 |  goldhorder | 

    Bomb, burn, rape, pillage all over the middle east…advocate more it…and you are “presidential material”. Somebody you know writes something offensive a couple decades ago and you don’t condem it…and ohhhh how evil you are. You have no bussiness being elected!!! Whatever. You people are stupid

  23. #23 |  Randolph Bourne | 

    Dondero is nutty and malicious regarding Paul but he seems to actually be telling truth about the newsletter. No way Paul would let the newsletter go out for years with Dondero or another junior aide as the editor. The editor had to be someone as close to Paul as Lew Rockwell.

    Overall, the articles don’t show a real racist inclination but a cynical attempt to pander to racists and bigots in order to get their money into the coffers of the newsletter. The rhetoric is unconvincing and over-the-top, although perhaps indicative of the authors’ prejudice. Seems more like it was based on mass-mailing analysis — like they noticed that 35% of subscribers were from white nationalist mailing lists, and then calculated how much racist language they needed to toss in each month. My guess is that most of the money went to the editor.

  24. #24 |  WMB | 

    I’ve heard for years that Rockwell was the main writer with Paul contributing. But does the ghost-writer issue exonerate Paul? How could it? He still paid for the writing and had it published under his name. His best excuse is that he was so inept a publisher that he never read his own publication, didn’t write for it, and doesn’t want to know who did write it. He claims he can’t remember who wrote for him. He’s basically saying he is totally inept at management — hardly a qualification for president. But if he was paying people to produce this stuff and he sent it out under his name he is responsible no matter who wrote it. The nature of ghost-writing is that the man who publishes it and pays for it takes credit for it as if he had done it himself. You can’t later disown it because you had it ghost-written for you.

    The racist garbage sounds like Lew. The antigay hate sounds like Gary North. The Isreali-conspiracy stuff sounds like Paul.

  25. #25 |  Multipurpose Spray | 

    Why are journalists, bloggers, and blog commenters wondering who wrote the Ron Paul newsletters, as if that is a speculative mystery?

    Ron Paul knows who wrote his newsletters. If he needs to jog his memory as to who wrote each issue, he can check to see who he was paying to write for him at the time.

    Stop speculating. If Ron Paul does not want to be associated with the content of his newsletters, then let Ron Paul tell us who wrote them.

    (Why he didn’t denounce them, fire them, or sue them at the time is another legitimate question, but let’s keep that separate.)