Libertarians and Ron Paul

David Bernstein got the blogosphere roiling with this post:

Ron Paul is a tempting protest vote, and I did support him in 1988 when he ran as a Libertarian, but he strikes me as running less of a "libertarian" campaign than a pacifist, populist campaign that does have some appeal to young and idealistic libertarians, but has too much appeal to the old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives. There seems to be a right-wing version of the Popular Front mentality among many Paul supporters: just like it was okay for Social Democrats to ally with Stalinists for "Progressive" ends in the old days, it's okay to ally with 9/11 and various other conspiracy theorists, southern secessionists, Nazis and fascists, anti-Semites and racists, against the common enemy of the modern "welfare-warfare" state. Count me out!

The guilt-by-association thing seems unfair to me. Matt Barganier agrees. Ditto the Rockwell brigade. But this post might prove Bernstein's point:

Note that southern secessionists are lumped in with the rest of the laundry list. So support of a political tactic of disunion and decentralization has also become a thought crime?

One libertarian has Bernstein's back, but David can defend himself:

Paul certainly has the potential to be the best thing that has happened to libertarianism as a political movement in a long time. He also has the potential to be the worst thing, if, as he gets more public exposure libertarianism gets associated in the public mind with 9/11 truther, southern irredentists, "white nationalists," and so forth.

It would be pretty easy for Paul to distance himself from some of the kooks who will always gravitate to a non-interventionist, small government candidacy. I don't know why he hasn't. But I also think that the Iraq war and the massive spending and anti-federalist impulses of the current GOP make Paul's candidacy important - as a corrective to abuse and a reminder of some core conservative principles.