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.