It took a while to get through to their server but I was finally able to read Jamie Kirchick's review of the various newsletters sponsored by Ron Paul in the 1980s and 1990s. They are a repellent series of tracts, full of truly appalling bigotry. They certainly seem to have no echoes in his current campaign, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously (Dave Weigel saw the story coming months ago.) At best, Paul was negligent in having these things published under his name - although Kirchick has not been able to find a single by-lined piece of hate actually attributed to Ron Paul himself. In fact there are almost no by-lines in any of them. I should also say that many of the quotes really don't sound anything like Paul. Here's one passage:
In 1990, one newsletter mentioned a reporter from a gay magazine "who certainly had an axe to grind, and that's not easy with a limp wrist." In an item titled, "The Pink House?" the author of a newsletter--again, presumably Paul--complained about President George H.W. Bush's decision to sign a hate crimes bill and invite "the heads of homosexual lobbying groups to the White House for the ceremony," adding, "I miss the closet."
Do these sound like Ron Paul to you? 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.
Paul's spokesman, Jesse Benton, responds:
Paul had granted "various levels of approval" to what appeared in his publications--ranging from "no approval" to instances where he "actually wrote it himself." After I read Benton some of the more offensive passages, he said, "A lot of [the newsletters] he did not see. Most of the incendiary stuff, no." He added that he was surprised to hear about the insults hurled at Martin Luther King, because "Ron thinks Martin Luther King is a hero."
I don't know enough about the arrangements behind these pamphlets to tell if this is a plausible defense or not. But there is a simple way to address this: Paul needs to say not only that he did not pen these excrescences, he needs to explain how his name was on them and disown them completely. I've supported Paul for what I believe are honorable reasons: his brave resistance to the enforced uniformity of opinion on the Iraq war, his defense of limited constitutional government, his libertarianism, his sincerity. If there is some other agenda lurking beneath all this, we deserve to know. It's up to Ron Paul now to clearly explain and disown these ugly, vile, despicable tracts from the past.