January 9, 2008

Volokh on Ron Paul

And I think, a good point:
In other words, Paul's campaign wants to depict its candidate as a naïve, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his behalf. This portrayal might be more believable if extremist views had cropped up in the newsletters only sporadically--or if the newsletters had just been published for a short time. But it is difficult to imagine how Paul could allow material consistently saturated in racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy-mongering to be printed under his name for so long if he did not share these views. In that respect, whether or not Paul personally wrote the most offensive passages is almost beside the point. If he disagreed with what was being written under his name, you would think that at some point--over the course of decades--he would have done something about it.

8 comments:

Bitebark said...

There're really only two choices to this. 1) Ron Paul is inept or 2) Ron Paul is lying. He's inept if he allowed a series of fringe groups to publish a couple decades-worth of racist, homophobic newsletters with his name on the masthead, without exercising control over the content.

And he's lying if he's lying.

Either way, it tells you just what kind of president Ron Paul would be. The lying kind, or the inept kind. And that's not really much of a change from the status quo, now, is it?

steves said...

At this point, I think it shows he is inept to some degree. The article references other extremist views, but doesn't say what they are, except to lump them into: racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and 'conspiricy-mongering.' The article doesn't give any actual examples.

The fact that the New Republic author did what he did just to stir things up and doesn't even believe he is a racist matters to me. The fact that this happened more than 10 years ago matters to me. The fact that Ron Paul will not get the nomination matters, since it makes this discussion mostly moot. I still have a hard time seeing why this is so important. There is a great post from the discussion over on the VC:

"HOW TO COMMIT CHARACTER ASSASINATION
(long title: How to drum up false charges of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, or homophobia to perclude an individual from forwarding their message and make them irrelevant in the eyes of the mainstream political establishment)

1. Send out researchers to comb over every recorded written record or verbal utterace that can be found about the target. The older the statement the better. Researchers should also target statements made during turbulent times or specific events. For instance, statements made during school integration, race based riots, the Matthew Shephard case, and similar events are good examples.

2. Read for any phrase or sentence that could be construed as being even remotely mildly offensive and that relates to sex, race, religion, and sexual orientation and set aside.

3. Select and publish said qoutes in an out of context manner and include outside commentary that suggests motivation for making the statement were hatred and bigotry.

For example, the qoute "David Duke's candidacy shook the Republican establishment" frame the statement to appear as not just be an observation about Duke's candidacy, but is also somehow an endorsement of that candidacy.

4. Quickly after publication, begin to change the public dialogue away from analyzing the actual qoutes and begin to generalize them. Turn the specific qoutes into more generalized statements. You must successfully do this in order to turn what, in context and reviewed in the timeframe in whcih they were made, appear to be statements of blatant bigotry. This way three qoutes discussing race and crime in the inner city become simply "(Person X) thinks all black people in a city are criminals."

5. After successfully conversting specific statements into generalized, distorted general summations begin to use these in the media until it catches on and no one publishes the actual, specific statements.

6. Begin attacking anyone defending the target. Use charged terms such as "racist", "apologist", "denier", and "bigot" to describe those people. Ask them, "why are you defending a bigot/racist?" Attempt to make the person defend themself and not the target.

7. Now to seal the deal, begin to pronounce the statements as "indefensible" and begin to publicly brand the target as a bigot, racist, homophobe which then makes him and everything he stands for irrelevant.

8. Now urge supporters to disassociate themselves with the target and publish public condemnations. Keep in mind that very few people will want to even remotely seem like they are publicly supporting someone who is being called a racist or bigot.

9. Call for the target to apologize and explain thier statements. This gives the target only a few choices. They cannot continue to defend their statements since public dialouge has been converted from discussion about the material to discussion about HOW racist is the material. It is now widely assumed that the material was in fact racist/bigoted.

The target can attempt to continue a defense, but this will become ackward shortly.

The target will then either after to make the decision to apologize and explain or ignore these calls. If he ignores the calls to apologize he seems like nothing more then an unapologetic bigot. "He did apologize - that means he must agree with all that racist trash he said," most people will say in response.

If the target does apologize, it will solidify and make the public believe that these statements were indeed racist and at one point the target may be racist.

With any of these results the character of the target will be sufficiently reduced and his legitimacy will be severely harmed.

Repeat as necessary."

Streak said...

I am not sure what the ten years ago part has to do with it. Nor, I might add, does the fact that Paul will not get the nomination make this discussion moot.

I think, Steve, you are absolutely correct that much of this has been misconstrued, and I also agree that we should be very concerned about the process of vetting this information and these candidates.

But perhaps the question is not why this has been done to Ron Paul but why that kind of scrutiny was not applied to Bush or other candidates. It seems to me that a person's take on race and our racial history is very relevant to his/her qualifications for the office. We spend a lot of time, as I think BB pointed out, talking about John Edwards hair and Hillary's cleavage, and not enough about actual issues.

steves said...

Talking about Edwards' hair and Hillary's cleaveage is asinine. The question of whether Paul is a racist is valid. If the answer is no, or the evidence is weak, then move on. The fact that it happened in 1992 is relevant. What has he been like since then? As someone pointed out in the Volokh blog, Hugo Black was a strong defender of civil rights, but was a member of the KKK in the 1920's.

Bitebark said...

I think you're right Steve. The racism, as my old friend Jack McCoy might say, goes to credibility. And because these rumors have persisted in different forms and different places throughout his campaign, they're difficult to dismiss. Is the point moot? Yes, largely. He's not gonna get the nom, so this isn't derailing any unstoppable train.

And that's one of the reasons I don't buy this as character assassination. Another is, the article itself dropped in a liberal rag, the day of the NH primary, which, if it's a hit piece, is baffling. The Dems have no motive to bash RP; he's not going to steal precious votes from them in a year when everyone and their dog are going D. It's an embarrassment of riches out there for Democratic candidates, and the stray contrarians who dip their toesies into the RP pool aren't particularly missed anyway.

Likewise, if it were good oppo, why not give the innuendo a couple of days to simmer in the media stew, rather than post it when everyone's already gone to the polls. Chris Matthews never got time to flog this thing, and believe me, he would have. The primary was on and all of his attention was elsewhere.

Point being, timing and placement are everything, and by those criteria, this piece fails as Swiftboating. But it does fit perfectly into that nagging narrative that RP's been fighting/ignoring for much of this race. And I think that's why, taken together with RP's nonsensical disavowal, I can lend it credence.

steves said...

I am still not sure, but as you say, the point is moot. I hope this opens the door to other candidates that challenge both of the political parties. In the long run, that is beneficial to us. I can't say that a Clinton v. Huckabee election would be what this country needs.

SHARKA BROWNE. said...

You can't control what others say in your name. It's their opinion not his. Ron Paul is a good man. Anyone of fair intent can see that.

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