I vaguely recall reading this Texas Monthly profile of Ron Paul. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember this part:
Then [political adversary] Morris’ subalterns dug up something even more damaging to Paul: copies of a 1992 newsletter he had published that contained racially tinted remarks.
They caused a minor sensation. In one issue of the Ron Paul Survival Report, which he had published since 1985, he called former U.S. representative Barbara Jordan a “fraud” and a “half-educated victimologist.” In another issue, he cited reports that 85 percent of all black men in Washington, D.C., are arrested at some point: “Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the ‘criminal justice system,’ I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.” And under the headline “Terrorist Update,” he wrote: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be.”
In spite of calls from Gary Bledsoe, the president of the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, and other civil rights leaders for an apology for such obvious racial typecasting, Paul stood his ground. He said only that his remarks about Barbara Jordan related to her stands on affirmative action and that his written comments about blacks were in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.” He denied any racist intent. What made the statements in the publication even more puzzling was that, in four terms as a U. S. congressman and one presidential race, Paul had never uttered anything remotely like this.
When I ask him why, he pauses for a moment, then says, “I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me. It wasn’t my language at all. Other people help me with my newsletter as I travel around. I think the one on Barbara Jordan was the saddest thing, because Barbara and I served together and actually she was a delightful lady.” Paul says that item ended up there because “we wanted to do something on affirmative action, and it ended up in the newsletter and became personalized. I never personalize anything.”
His reasons for keeping this a secret are harder to understand: “They were never my words, but I had some moral responsibility for them . . . I actually really wanted to try to explain that it doesn’t come from me directly, but they [campaign aides] said that’s too confusing. ‘It appeared in your letter and your name was on that letter and therefore you have to live with it.'” It is a measure of his stubbornness, determination, and ultimately his contrarian nature that, until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret. It seems, in retrospect, that it would have been far, far easier to have told the truth at the time.
The article confirms that Paul very foolishly allowed his name to be used on articles he didn’t and wouldn’t write, then through some warped sense of loyalty to the author(s) and undue deference to his advisors opted to try and defend them rather than take immediate responsibility for his mistake. And even though this should have destroyed his campaign, he won a seat in Congress. Having escaped unscathed once before, it’s perhaps understandable why he thinks it’s not a big deal this time around.
But it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. His failure to see that has not only alienated him from many of his supporters, but tarnished the image of libertarian ideas for people who have been exposed to them for the first time through Paul’s presidential run. We’re all paying now for his unwillingness to repudiate these statements the first time they were used against him. Simply issuing a press release that they are “old news” and declaring that they do not represent his beliefs isn’t going to make them go away; the flippancy with which he’s treating their reappearance shows that his sensitivity to these matters hasn’t much improved since 1996.
In fact, if the Texas Monthly writer is correct that his interview is the first in which Paul publicly denied writing these abhorrent passages, then Paul’s statement yesterday that “for over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name” is not true. He seems to be implying that he has taken responsibility since his campaign to return to Congress, or at least since 1998. The profile was published in late 2001.
[Via Virginia Postrel, whose thoughts on the matter are posted here and here.]
Update 1/10: As always, read Jim Henley too.
Update 1/11: Jim points out that Paul had ample opportunity to denounce the statements in 1996 and clearly didn’t. Combined with his thoroughly unconvincing appearance on CNN last night and his continued close association with the probable author of the articles, I no longer think there’s anyway to deny Paul’s culpability in their publication.