Before examining the offensive material in the Ron Paul newsletters cited by TNR, it should be pointed out that the TNR article wildly over-reaches in its all-out attempt to condemn Paul. TNR uses some genuinely ugly material in the newsletters as a launching pad for a wider set of unjust and unsupported smears. The article was an obvious hit piece, published on the day of the New Hampshire primaries, when Paul’s hopes for a breakthrough vote were high, and without time for Paul to undo the damage. It is puffed up and padded with innuendo, exaggerations, and unsupported claims.
The TNR article is thick with McCarthyite guilt-by-association smears. For example, TNR breathlessly notes that Paul has appeared on the Alex Jones radio show and given interviews to the John Birch Society. But this, of course, hardly indicates Paul shares their beliefs (many of which, incidentally, are quite unremarkable). TNR supplies no damning quotes from these, or any other, interviews -- because, quite simply, there aren’t any damning quotes. Paul’s message of peace, tolerance and liberty is the same, whatever the venue.
Similarly, the fact that a few tin-pot would-be fuehrers have announced they support Paul says no more about Paul than the Communist Party USA’s quasi-endorsement of John Kerry in 2004, or the Klan’s endorsement of Ronald Reagan in 1980, said about those candidates.
While I strongly believe that Paul did not write the newsletter material quoted in the TNR article, for reasons I will discuss below, it should nonetheless be noted that a good bit of what TNR holds up as oh-my-God!-shocking actually is... not. For example, criticism of Israeli policies, or concern about the influence of the Israeli lobby upon U.S. foreign policy, is not anti-Semitic. Nor is opposition to foreign aid to Israel, especially in the context of Paul’s opposition to all foreign aid.
Similarly, criticism of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Yale’s sordid Skull and Bones society is surely not outside the bounds of respectable discourse. And concern about an "industrial-banking-political elite" is hardly sinister; jeez, what intelligent non-Establishment political observer doesn’t worry about some variant or other of this? Isn’t that essentially what Eisenhower was warning about in his famous “military-industrial complex” speech?
And when did it become “paranoia” to oppose the Federal Reserve System and to support a gold standard instead of easily-inflated paper currency?
In the same way, it is just laughable for TNR to criticize a 1986 newsletter for describing conservatives Jeanne Kirkpatrick and George Will as “two of our enemies” and noting they had joined the Trilateral Commission. They were, in fact, inducted into that august organization, joining a gaggle of other suspicious characters; and no doubt both of them are viewed as enemies even by some of TNR’s staunchest readers.
Similarly, attacking The New Republic for failing to defend the free speech rights of Holocaust revisionists (as one 1989 newsletter did) is not, of course, an endorsement of the revisionists’ views; it is the proper stance of First Amendment absolutists like Paul.
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.