TNR claims one article “had kind words” for Klan nutball David Duke. Upon actually reading it, however, one finds no “kind words” for Duke (though the short article is somewhat obnoxious). Rather, the article -- written immediately after Duke’s shocking 44 percent showing in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary -- examines Duke’s strategy of building a populist movement against high taxes, big government, and welfare, as a possible model for other candidates without Duke’s nasty background and racist views. Tellingly, TNR fails to quote a later newsletter at their site that denounces Duke as “an adherent of the violent philosophy of the KKK” and wonders why the media spends so much time attacking the politically impotent Duke and tiny bands of skinheads instead of going after the likes of Oliver North “who has done much more damage to America than a few scattered fascists.” TNR, in full smear mode, ignores such nuances.
To point out such misrepresentations and exaggerations -- and there is much more -- is not mere nitpicking, nor is it an attempt to excuse the genuinely vile stuff that TNR has uncovered. It is important because TNR pads the article with such material to back up its claim that the newsletters show “decades worth of obsession with conspiracies ... and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays.” However, all the nasty, damning quotes TNR gives -- the legitimate meat of their article -- appeared sporadically over a narrow, specific time-period: about fifteen issues from very late 1989 to 1993 -- about three years, not “decades.” (Comments sympathetic to the militia movement, none bigoted, appear in a couple of 1994 and 1995 issues.)
And this, as we shall see, fits in well with Paul’s claim that he did not write the newsletters or oversee their content.
The Ugly Core
There remains that core of writings -- again, in about fifteen issues, from very late 1989 to 1993 as best I can tell -- that are truly repellant in tone and substance.
It is important to put even this trash in some context. They are mostly short pieces and do not seem to be the focus of the newsletters (with the exception of one ugly "Special Issue on Racial Terrorism"), and even the worst do not make anything remotely like white supremacist arguments, or call for repressive government action against minorities.
But they are loathsome. They engage in nasty baiting and stereotyping of blacks and gays. They are unquestionably ugly and bigoted, deliberately crafted to pander to racists, homophobes and nuts. This core of writings is utterly indefensible.
People are right to be alarmed when confronted with them, as they should be about any similar statements from a presidential candidate’s past. No candidate who uttered or believed such things would be worthy of support.
I believe Paul when he says he did not write them, and that he is angry, hurt, and embarrassed that they have been attributed to him. Let me explain why.
Alien to Paul
The controversy over these newsletters is not new. They first surfaced as an issue in Paul’s 1996 congressional race. In 2001, Sam Gwynne, executive editor of the prominent progressive magazine Texas Monthly, noted in a lengthy profile of Paul: “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.”
Similarly, in early 2007, New York Times Magazine writer Christopher Caldwell wrote that Paul had disowned the comments "quite believably, since the style diverges widely from his own..."
Former TNR editor Andrew Sullivan, who had endorsed Paul prior to the TNR article, calls the material “ugly, vile, despicable tracts,” but notes: “I've listened to him speak a great deal these past few months and either he has had a personality transplant or he didn't write this.”
They are correct. The offensive newsletter articles are indeed wildly, ludicrously, grotesquely out of synch with Paul's lifetime writing style, voting record, public statements, and personal conduct. They are, to those who are familiar with him and his record, very clearly not his own. Few if any in the mainstream media believe he actually wrote them.
Even the TNR article doesn’t seriously argue they are his words. According to Berin M. Szoka of Gays and Lesbians for Ron Paul, a few weeks before the TNR hit piece was published, the author, Jamie Kirchick, emailed Szoka: “I don’t think Ron Paul is a homophobe; I’m just cynical and enjoy getting supporters of political candidates riled up.”
The obvious question, then: If, as Paul claims, he did not write them, how did they appear in a newsletter with his name on it?