Ron Paul’s incendiary past

    Ron Paul pulled off his mic yesterday and walked out of a CNN interview. He had been displeased with the questions, and had indicated that he would not respond any further. Memo to Paul: If you want to be considered a serious candidate, you’d better man up and answer. Because the questions about one sensitive topic will keep coming.This particular topic indeed ranks high on the sensitivity meter. Perhaps you’ve heard about it; if not, that’s probably because Paul, as a fringe player, has rarely warranted serious scrutiny. But now that Iowa caucus-goers are threatening to anoint him as the latest Republican flavor of the month, the pitiless glare has arrived. And rightly so. Because any candidate who served as publisher of a racist and anti-Semitic newsletter deserves to be more closely scrutinized.The new fans who think Paul is groovy may want to familiar themselves with this item on his resume. During the ’80s and ’90s, he was listed as publisher of (and he garnered revenue from) a series of newsletters bearing his name. The title changed, but the name renamed the same – Ron Paul Political Report, Ron Paul Survival Report, Ron Paul Investment Letter, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report.With particular thanks to reporter James Kirchick, who has been virtually alone in outing these newsletters (in a 2008 New Republic magazine article, and in a current Weekly Standard magazine article), the most noxious passages are now in circulation. Paul has offered a variety of defenses (he wrote some, he didn’t write any, he knew about them, he didn’t know about them), but for the moment let’s just sample the oeuvre:Martin Luther King Day is “our annual Hate Whitey Day.”Martin Luther King “seduced underage girls and boys.””95 percent of the black males (in Washington) are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.””Order was only restored (after the ’92 L.A. riots) when it came time for blacks to pick up their welfare checks.””Gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14” are injecting white women with possibly HIV-infected syringes on the streets of New York.Black teenage males, after they rob you, are “unbelievably fleet of foot.” People suffering from AIDS should be banned from restaurants.Anti-government militias are “one of the most encouraging developments in America.”The ’93 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center may have been “a setup by the Israeli Mossad.”Jews have too much worldwide influence, because of the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to work for the Mossad.”In terms of judging Ron Paul in 2012, is it relevant to bring up material written two decades ago? You bet. Just imagine what the firestorm would have been, in 2008, if those incendiaries had appeared in a newsletter entitled Barack Obama’s Political Report.  Paul has been asked about his newsletters from time to time over the years, and he has spun his responses every which way. In 1996, the Texas congressman told the Dallas Morning News that he had personally written some passages, but that critics were taking them out of context. He confessed authoring the line about how 95 percent of Washington blacks are supposedly criminals, and said he had gotten the statistic from a think tank, The National Center on Incarceration and Alternatives. But when the newspaper in Austin tried to confirm the figure, it discovered that no such think tank existed.In 2001, Paul told the magazine Texas Monthly that he had not written any of the content, insisting that “those words weren’t really written by me, it wasn’t my language at all. Other people help me with my newsletter…”In 2008, after The New Republic ran Kirchick’s initial piece, he said that the offensive passages “are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full time, a newsletter  was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”This past Tuesday, in the wake of the Weekly Standard piece, Paul reiterated, “I didn’t write them, and it’s not my sentiment.” Yesterday, before he pulled the plug on his CNN interview, he said, “I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written…I didn’t write them, didn’t read them at the time, and I disavow them.” But when he was specifically asked whether he had looked at the material to determine whether his views were being accurately represented, he replied, “Not all the time. Well, on occasion, yes.”Whatever. Let’s cut to the chase: At no time did Paul ever take the initiative and call a halt to that kind of material. The material continued to appear under his name. And he continued to reap the financial rewards. The publishing company, Ron Paul & Associates, reportedly generated roughly $1 million worth of income in 1993 alone. Whether he personally wrote any of the material is not the issue; pun intended, the buck stops with him.Paul abruptly exited his CNN interview yesterday because, in his words, he was tired of being “pestered” about the newsletters. He huffed at host Gloria Borger, “When are you going to wear yourself out?” He told her that the material was incendiary “only because of people like you.”How much easier it was to live on the fringe, where few bothered to pay attention. But this kind of scrutiny is de rigueur in the big leagues. Paul has yet to be asked about the newsletters in any of the Republicans debates, but here’s hoping that his good fortune will change on Jan. 7, when the candidates reconvene. ——- I briefly referenced those newsletters in my Thursday newspaper column, which focused largely on the unrepresentative absurdity of the Iowa caucuses, where Paul may be poised for a major showing based on his ability to rack up a statewide tally no bigger than the capacity of Citizens Bank Park.——-Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

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