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Political Animal

Who Is This Man?

The Ron Paul of the GOP debates is the kindly Texas grandfatherly looking fellow who has it the easiest in every debate

Before the next few Republican primaries dispose of Ron Paul, it’s probably a good idea to do it ourselves first, so it’s probably a good time to take a few last, good whacks.

Who the fuck is this guy?

The Ron Paul of the GOP debates is the kindly Texas grandfatherly looking fellow who has it the easiest in every debate, quips The New York Times’ Trip Gabriel on Twitter. “The answer to every question is, ‘Get the government out of it.’” He’s the anti-war, anti-PATRIOT Act guy whose answers on civil liberties have even gotten more than a few liberals to throw their hats in his general direction.

Paul has yet to release his tax returns, and he jokes that he’d be “embarrassed” to put up his income compared to the platinum-plated juggernaut that is Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich, the hundred-thousand-dollar “historian.” Given that Romney’s money has seen more countries than probably you or I have in the last four years, Paul may have a point.

The humongous, shit-spewing pachyderm in the room, however, is Paul’s years of racist, homophobic, anti-women’s rights newsletters. Paul’s newsletters have said that the Founding Fathers probably wouldn’t favor research into curing AIDS and that insurance companies should have the right to refuse to cover AIDS patients. Paul’s book, originally written in 1987 and reissued in 2007, says if women are sexually harassed in the workplace, they should just quit and find another job. Equal work for equal pay? Fuggedabout it—in Paul’s world, if an airline doesn’t want to hire ugly women as stewardesses (one can only presume that in a Ron Paul world, they’re all female and they’re all “stewardesses,” not “flight attendants”), where does the government get off telling it it can’t?

Back in 1993, Paul’s newsletters were ginning up racial animosity* by claiming they had “laid bare the coming race war in our big cities” and how the new anti-counterfeiting changes to the money were part of a conspiracy to impose martial law. Looking back on some of this stuff, you have to wonder if the people in Paul’s newsletter offices were smoking the wacky weed before or after they rewatched that old VHS copy of Red Dawn for the 63rd time. Wolverines, motherfuckers!

Paul’s defense to all these charges reminds me of what the Washington, D.C., police used to jokingly call “The Tyrone Defense” back when I was a street radio reporter in the crack cocaine days of the late 1980s: “It wasn’t me, man—it was some other dude, looked just like me!” Paul says he didn’t write all of that stuff, and anyway, as he said on an Iowa radio program back in December before the primary, “These were sentences that were put in, eight or 10 sentences. It wasn’t a reflection of my views at all.”

According to talkingpointsmemo.com, Paul told a caller on Jan Mickelson’s show on WHO-AM that the offensive parts were “probably 10 sentences out of 10,000 pages.” Riiiiiiight.

Except for the fact that this is all—what’s the word? Oh, right—bullshit. The fact remains that a simple fact of publishing negates all of that.

RON PAUL’S NAME IS AT THE TOP OF THE NEWSLETTER.

You own it, dude. If you wanted someone else to do something and you get credit for it, you should have been the shorter, older, whiter, non-dreadlocked member of Milli Vanilli. But if you write something and your name’s at the top, like it or not, that’s your albatross, baby. Even though we know it was Ted Sorensen who put all those pretty words in JFK’s mouth, it’s still Kennedy who gets them inscribed on his tomb, capisce?

That’s what’s so funny about wingnuts who were saying back in 2008 that “we don’t know anything about Barack Obama.” They could do like anybody else did: walk into Barnes and Noble and shell out $26 for a copy of Dreams From My Father and read it. The man got rich from writing a fuckin’ book. That’s how he made his $1.7 mil in 2010.

So all that stuff in those newsletters, in that book: Paul can’t back away from it now. This, as much as anything else, is the reason why Paul will always be a third-rate actor in American presidential politics. If anything, his following is more a cult than a movement. They believe all the good stuff and none of the bad, no matter how recently it came out of his mouth or in print with his name splashed across the top.

And if you can deny shit you’ve said retroactively, remember this: There has never been this much swearing in a Political Animal column. If it comes back to me years from now, I shall say it was written by Mr. Wrong.

* Correction: The initial version of this column mistakenly stated that Paul's newsletters made particular controversial racial statements before Rodney King's beating at the hands of Los Angeles police, which took place in 1991.

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