Ron Paul: Not So Much Denial Back in the 1990s (Plus: Newsletters 101)
New video plus a basic primer on Ron Paul's newsletter situation.
Now, I have already noted (here) that back in the 1996 campaign that Paul spoke as though he was the author of his newsletters, and Doug Mataconis has also provided a video clip from a C-SPAN interview from the mid-1990s wherein Paul clearly plugged the letters.
Now, Andrew Kacyznski (h/t: Weigel) has found an interview from 1995 in which Paul said "I also do an investment letter — it’s called the ‘Ron Paul Survival Report’ — which is a gold oriented newsletter. But it’s also expressing concern about surviving in this age of big government."
Let’s roll the tape:
All of this is worth continued coverage, because I still think a lot of reasonable people don’t grasp the overall story (and, of course, the Ronulans aren’t persuadable, but that’s another issue). And by “not grasp” I mean, have not seen all of the information in one comprehensive package. A lot of folks seem to envision the newsletters as something like the “Huffington Post” wherein there is a masthead with someone’s name on it, but where is it clear who wrote what. However, this is not the case, as the newsletters where all old-school, snail-mail documents presented as though they were written by Paul. Further,
1. For some number of years, there were a number of newsletters published under Ron Paul’s name (and, at least in some example I have seen, the letters are ended with a facsimile of his signature.
2. These newsletter contain, amongst other things, a great deal of “end of civilization as we know it” rhetoric alongside racists and homophobic rantings.
3. These items originally emerged as campaign issues in Paul 1996 campaign to return to congress. At the time, Paul did not disavow the letters, nor did he claim that they were ghost-written. Instead, the defense that emerged at the time were along the lines of the “taken out of context” defense.
4. In 2001, he told Texas Monthly: "I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me. It wasn’t my language at all. Other people help me with my newsletter as I travel around. I think the one on Barbara Jordan was the saddest thing, because Barbara and I served together and actually she was a delightful lady."
This admission, by the way, is hardly flattering because it suggests one or more of the following: a) Paul did not have much regard for the voters that he thought the concept of a ghost-writer was too complicated, b) was easily influenced by campaign staff, and/or c) thought that disavowing the newsletter would turn off some of his electoral support with the type of people who subscribed.
5. In 2008 he told Wolf Blitzer:
PAUL: It is. And of course it’s been rehashed for a long time and it’s coming up now for political reasons. But everybody in my district knows I didn’t write them. And I don’t speak like that
BLITZER: Congressman, there’s a lot of material there. Let me just try figure out, how did this stuff get in these Ron Paul newsletters? Who wrote it?
PAUL: I have no idea. Have you ever heard a publisher of a magazine not knowing every single thing? The editor is responsible for the daily activities. People came and gone. And there were people who were hired. I don’t know any of their names. I absolutely honestly do not know who wrote those things.
BTW, calling an 8-page newsletter a “magazine” is misleading, to put it mildly. It creates the illusion, that many appear to have accepted, that we are talking here about a different type of publication than was the case.
6. In 2011 he walked away from Gloria Borger, insisting that the story was settled. In that interview he said:
PAUL: […] I didn’t write them. I disavow them. That’s it.
BORGER: But you made money off of them?
PAUL: I was still practicing medicine. That was probably why I wasn’t a very good publisher, because I had to make a living.
BORGER: But there are reports that you made almost a million dollars off of them in — in 1993.
PAUL: No. Who — I’d like to share — see that money.
BORGER: So you read them, but you didn’t do anything about it at the time?
PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never — I’ve never read it. I came — I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written. And it’s been going on 20 years, that people have pestered me about this. And CNN does it every single time. So when…
If, by the way, Paul’s claims in #s 5 and 6 above are accurate, how do we explain the video linked above (or the one Doug provided or the contemporaneous newspaper account I noted above)? Is the 2001 admission to Texas Monthly sufficient? How and why would he allow content of any kind to go out under his name without reading it?
Ok, so what’s the problem?
Answer: Paul bears responsibility for their content because one of the following is the case: he wrote them, he wrote some of them, he wrote none of them but allowed them to be presented to his subscribers as though he did.
If he wrote the passages in question, there is little doubt that he would be unelectable.
If he did not write the passages in question, he has some serious explaining to do, as (at a minimum) it raises questions about his ability to function in a managerial position (e.g., POTUS). If Paul could not manage a relatively brief (8ish pages per issue as far as I can tell) publication with a small (thousands, I think) circulation rate, how in the world can he function as chief executive of the government of the largest and most powerful (economically and militarily) government in the world?
For those unwilling to dig through the various posts to find examples of the newsletters, let me share a few:
- In the October 1992 edition Paul (or someone writing as Paul) notes of the trend of “hiip-hop…urban youth who play unsuspecting Whites like pianos” (which seems to mean car-jacking. In that passage he suggest buying an unregistered gun, keeping in the car and then, if used, fleeing the scene and wiping down and disposing of the weapon. In short, this passage preys on fears of blacks (even in small towns like Lake Jackson, TX) and suggests that the only solution is a felony action. Keep in mind, too, the newsletters frequently spoke of a coming race war (for example—also here).
- The same addition (indeed, the same page) equates equal rights for homosexuals as “letting gays force their way onto other’ people’s property.”
- In April 1993, the newsletter suggested that Israeli intelligence might have been behind the 1993 WTC attack: "Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.”
- December 1990: MLK was a bisexual pedophile: “King, the FBI files show, was not only a world-class adulterer, he also seduced underage girls and boys” who also, according to the January 1991 edition, beat his partners: "St. Martin was a world-class philanderer who beat up his paramours (‘non-violence’ didn’t apply in all spheres, I guess)."
- January 1994: homosexual like getting AIDS: "They enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick. Put it all together, and you’ve got another wave of AIDS infections, that you, dear taxpayer, will be asked to pay for."
- Also, in the same passage, we see that gay men really only live for sex and therefore “these men don’t really see a reason to live past their fifties. They are not married, they have no children, and their lives are centered on new sexual partners. These conditions do not make one’s older years the happiest.”
- The “October 1990 edition of the Political Report ridicules black activists, led by Al Sharpton, for demonstrating at the Statue of Liberty in favor of renaming New York City after Martin Luther King. The newsletter suggests that “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,”and “Lazyopolis ” would be better alternatives—and says, “Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house.” (via TNR).
- Also via TNR: “The June 1990 issue of the Political Report says: “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”
- More linked here and here.
There’s a lot more at the links. At any rate, I am at a loss to see how any of this is defensible.
Really, the bottom line is this: absent an especially comprehensive and satisfactory explanation, the newsletters utterly disqualify Paul from the nomination, let alone the White House. Having spent a substantial amount of time researching, reading, writing, and arguing concerning this matter, I can reach no other conclusion.
My other posts on this matter (oldest first):
Ron Paul’s Newsletter Problem
- More on Paul and the Newsletters
A Bit More About the Ron Paul Newsletters
If You Need an Example of the Ron Paul Newsletter
More Examples of the Ron Paul Newsletters
Even More Ron Paul Newsletter Scans
Libertarian History and the Paul Newsletters
Note: This started as a brief post to highlight the video, but I decided that I needed a single post that had all the basics of the story in one place for future reference at a minimum.
The smear campaign can only backfire at this point. When the media starts by claiming that Ron Paul is unelectable because he loves Muslims but when that fails to deter support switches to claiming that Paul is unelectable because he is a racist it becomes obvious that something doesn’t add up.
Ron Paul is not a racist; he’s a nerd.
I don’t know how many racists want to pardon thousands African Americans who have been imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses; or how many racists want to stop bombing Arab and African nations, and to stop torturing the Arabs we capture. However, alone among the candidates (Republican or Democrat), Paul plans to do each of these things.
In this particular 1995 video, Paul is discussing his nerdy fascination with monetary policy, and how he wrote articles expressly about monetary policy. There are few more ethnographically neutral subjects than gold-backed currency and associated Federal monetary policy.
However, according to his critics, Paul set aside his Ob/Gyn practice to write and edit every article in the newsletter, arrange the typesetting and copying with the printer, address and carry the newsletters to the post office and manage newsletter subscriptions. Really, when did he have time to help berth those 4,000 babies?
If you have ever written and article and had it published, you buy several copies of the publication and you read and share your article. Do you read the rest of the publication cover to cover? Does an actor read script cover to cover, or skim to his speaking parts? No, most writers and actors are vain enough that they focus on their own writing only. That’s what Paul is doing in this video; talking about his own wonkish, nerdy monetary policy articles.
Also, why can’t I find any virulently racist remarks from Ron Paul in the decades of his speeches that have been captured on YouTube, or in the many books he has written and published under his name.
Is Ron Paul a monetary policy and Austrian economics nerd? Yes.
Is Ron Paul an ineffective newsletter publisher? Yes. He has said as much, and expressed that he is “morally responsible” for the newsletters which bore his name. Paul autosigned newsletters like Obama autosigns legislation; and just like Congress passes bills without knowing everything that’s in them, Paul clearly did the same with at least a few of the hundreds of newsletters.
Is Ron Paul a racist? The thousands of African American men who will be returning to their families, communities and churches in a Ron Paul administration might suggest that the answer is “No”.
It is entirely plausible Paul is devoted more to libertarianism than racism. It’s not as if the two are mutually exclusive, and if I was racist, I probably wouldn’t bring it up often either.
Ron Paul was a bad publisher. He was a great doctor, congressman, and author of books. I do believe that his defense is weak and he should just throw whomever wrote that stuff under the bus…but to assume that his publishing incompetence in any way discredits his other successes is sheer nonsense.
Oh, and let’s not prognosticate on what a candidate will or won’t do once in office. Campaign promises aren’t the sorts of things you’d invest money into.
Jay, I assume you’re a genuinely committed support of RP and want to see him do well and even get elected president. I respect your intent and your dedication. Having said that, your posting does more harm than good to RP’s cause.
If I knew there were newsletters with my name prominently displayed in the title, as a former congressman with ambitions to run again I would definitely want to know what’s in them. Not because I might disagree but because there would be a good chance of running into someone who’s a subscriber and might have questions. I can’t just stand there saying “Uhhhhhh….can I get back to you on that???”
Personally I’d like to know what the payment arrangements were. Did the authors license RP’s name and pay him a licensing fee? Did he get a cut based on number of subscriptions? Was it a regular salary? Maybe I’ve missed it but I don’t recall RP acknowledging that he did derive revenue out of these newsletters. This intrigues me.
The issue for me really isn’t whether RP is racist – I’m prepared to take his word for that and his actions do count for something in that regard. But that makes it all the more perplexing that he wasn’t more aggressive in denoucing the contents when this first came up a few years ago.
Seems like the only things Paul’s been successful at are separating rubes from their money and burying his head in the government trough for decades.
Two generations of Pauls grabbing millions from the government, and he’s some sort of libertarian hero?
Tell that to Goldman Sachs.
Tell that to Romney’s and Obama’s biggest donor, Goldman Sachs.
Please tell me you are as scrupulous in asking Obama and Romney about the money they receive from big banks.
Ron Paul’s newsletters did not cost the tax payers billions in these endless bail-outs.
Wait, never mind. You are not as scrupulous.
“I am at a loss to see how any of this is defensible.”
As some of the above comments indicate, it’s easy to defend Ron Paul when you’re really eager to fool yourself.
This one was the clincher:
Precisely none of that is going to happen. There will be no Ron Paul administration. If there was, he wouldn’t be able to a) end the drug war, or b) heal all the racial wounds in this country caused by it. It would be nice if he could….but he can’t.
Whether they know it or not, Ron Paul supporters are setting themselves up for disappointment. Unless, of course, you want to truck in this kind of nonsense. Just what we need….another Republican dynasty.
I find it odd that he claims people wrote this stuff without his knowledge. He says he disagrees with it. Yet, he will not say who wrote it. Protecting racists is one step removed from being one, but I wish it not there.
Let me put it another way. I sure would like to have the people who wrote this stuff interviewed. They should be able to tell us if Paul knew about it and whether he agreed.
@Herb: It is always striking that, usually, none of the Ronulans actually try to address the contents of a given post. The two most popular responses are either a) it’s a hit piece (or some variant) and/or b) the one you noted: “how could he be a racists if he wants to end the drug war?” (or some variant).
Even if we stipulate that such questions need to be answered, they explain nothing about Paul or the contents of this post. Bringing up Obama, Romney, or whomever is just avoidance.
@Steven L. Taylor: And C) The Ronulans who take for granted that Paul’s foreign policy approach equals peace. Not that it will lead to, with a lot of hard work and some luck, peace, or that it will create an environment where peace can be easily obtained, but that we elect Ron Paul, he closes the Pentagon, we bring all the troops home, and BAM….peace!
Again….not gonna happen.
Ron Paul’s words 1995: “I also do an investment letter — it’s called the ‘Ron Paul Survival Report’ — which is a gold oriented newsletter. But it’s also expressing concern about surviving in this age of big government,..”
Ron Pauls words 1995: “But along with that, I also put out a political type of business investment newsletter that sort of covered all these areas.”
Ron Paul’s words 2011: “I didn’t write them. didn’t read them at the time and I disavow them.”
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s words 1865: “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself you see.” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
@Jay: Handwaving is not a valid defense.
Ron Paul is not a racist. I am not interested in what happened in the ’90’s. I am interested in what is going on now.
Me, too: and right now Ron Paul is contradicting himself.
Make this pro-Ron Paul Denver Conspiracy Examiner article go viral! Spread it all over the internet and the social media networks! “Support the troops by supporting Ron Paul” http://www.examiner.com/conspiracy-in-denver/support-the-troops-by-supporting-ron-paul
So sorry to inform you, but Ron Paul is unelectable simply because he is Ron Paul…
At the very least, Paul is not at all careful about who he appoints to staff his organizations, or how to control his message.
Now scale those flaws up to Executive Office staffing, judicial nominations, embassy postings….
@Jay: “…pardon thousands African Americans who have been imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses…”
Pardon? (forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty) You’re kidding aren’t you.
Commutation. (lessening of a penalty without forgiveness for the crime; the beneficiary is still considered guilty of the offense.) Maybe this is what you are thinking of.
The President of the USA can only grant pardons or commutations to Federal prisoners.
No President can grant them to State prisoners.
Just another case of Libertarianism not being a ideology that can exist in the real world. At every exposure to Reality it fails. Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Doug Mataconis…all delusional.
“Ron Paul is not a racist. I am not interested in what happened in the ’90′s. I am interested in what is going on now.”
Should be pretty easy to prove. Have Paul release the names of the people writing this stuff. Let us hear from them whether or not he knew or agreed with them. If Paul is not racist, he has no need to hide these names.
@An Interested Party: At last! Someone has inadvertently stumbled onto reality. Any one who is concerned about the content of the newsletters already knows that Ron Paul is unelectable. Outside of the Ronulans themselves, the segment of the GOP (or the nation at large for that matter) that will support Paul when push comes to shove can probalby fit in a clown car with room to spare. Sadly, most of the people that I know who would consider supporting Ron Paul seem willing to ignore the countless things that they don’t like about him because “he was against Iraq from the beginning–that’s good enough for me” or some other one-note song.
I was a supporter of Ron Paul before this came up in 2008. After, I still chose to write him in as a protest vote. Now I’m wondering if that was the right thing to do. In any case, there is now no scenario under which Paul is someone who should run the country. He either has beliefs that are incompatible with a tolerant society, or he’s an incompetent/lazy administrator.
If he were willing to also disavow the awful beliefs of the 1980’s/1990’s Mises Institute, I’d be willing to reconsider. Unfortunately, many of the early Libertarians were more interested in tribal loyalty than in principles.
Houston, OTB base here, the Paulbots have landed.
Is Paul planning refunds for all the people he defrauded with his newsletters? Pretty sure they thought they were paying for his opinions and ideas.
So Ron starts naming people….then the press really goes ape-shit on them. Then they go back to Ron…and the front-and-center steak in this dog pound is racism. Nope. This is a no-win for him.
Big hit for Libertarians. Libertarians are cool -as long as they don’t go all doctrinaire on ya. I hate that when that happens.
Paul denies he knows who wrote the newsletters. I mean, come on Paul-guys – Really? He doesn’t know who wrote them? He just promoted them and talked about them and got money from them? You really accept that? Why should we listen to anything you have to say?
Back here in reality, with every passing day that Paul doesn’t point the finger at the staff members responsible, it seems more and more likely that he doesn’t want said staffers talking. And so we (at least, those of us who haven’t inhaled so much Paul-gas that we can’t think straight anymore) have to wonder what those staffers would be saying if Paul did finger them.
Refunds? Of course not.
The marketplace will solve this. The consumers of his newsletters will rationally shop around for another candidate, then use the power of their Ameros to purchase a better product.
To recap how we got here….from Bob Reich:
Ending with: “It’s also dangerous for America. We need two political parties solidly grounded in the realities of governing. Our democracy can’t work any other way. “
This former Ron Paul staffer is doing Ron Paul no favors.
Damning with faint praise lol
He doesn’t “want to” anything, other than destroy and privatize every single Federal agency. He’s fine with States pushing racist policy, if you don’t realize this, you’re a liar or an imbecile.
My position on Ron Paul is pretty much Steven Taylor’s position, except that I’m not willing to make a distinction between exploiting racism and being personally racist.
But I’m willing to offer a little sympathy for the devil. Yes, Ron Paul flattered racists and therefore furthered racism for his own personal and political gain. (Also homophobes etc.) But this of all the things about Ron Paul doesn’t stand out in the contemporary GOP. Consider all the Republican officials, e.g. Haley Barbour, who have played footsie with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens and the neo-confederate League of the South. Consider that not just anti-gay rhetoric but anti-gay policy proposals* are active parts of the Republican program. Consider that Paul’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is at best more colorful than that of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Consider “Kenyan Muslim Socialism.” Consider that you can, indeed must, propound explicitly anti-Muslim sentiments and policies+ as a serious Republican.
Paul’s exploitations of bigotry don’t make him “unfit” for leadership of the Republican Party. They are his chief qualification.
* Going well beyond “defense of marriage” laws to laws forbidding state and local governments, hospitals and corporations from granting any rights to domestic partners in gay couples outside marriage, even where partners in non-marital straight couples have such rights.
+ Including the wave of state and local ordnances restricting mosque construction in the wake of the Burlington Coat Factory Cultural Center in NYC.
@ Jim Henley
Good analysis. We could even take it a step further and conclude that exploiting racism is more revolting that holding racist beliefs. If one is a racist, their views on race may be hatful and wrong headed, but at least they are actual convictions and the ones that hold them are acting on a belief system they feel has validity.
To exploit racism, hate and the degradation of the human spirit, as so many Republicans have done, to further the pursuit of power and money, is perhaps even more repugnant.
Ron Paul’s newsletters did not cost the tax payers billions in these endless bail-outs.
That’s fabulous. But the newsletters in question did contain a great deal of racist, anti-gay, anti-Jewish bigotry (indeed, that’s the topic at hand). Just awful stuff. Unambiguously repugnant. Truly horrible. And all in Ron Paul’s name. Tap-dancing around that unfortunate fact will not make it go away.
In the wake of these racist/homophobic/anti-Jewish newsletters (finally) receiving some scrutiny and attention at the national level, one cannot help but wonder if Dr. Paul’s chances of winning the South Carolina Republican Primary are getting better.
@Rick Almeida: @anjin-san:
We could even take it a step further and conclude that exploiting racism is more revolting that holding racist beliefs.
And once you figure out it’s not just the racism, you will completely understand Ron Paul.
Quick, off the top of your head…. name that one fringe conspiracy belief crowd that he hasn’t pandered to to gain their support ?
That’s right, not being able to name one is the correct answer.
This is why the “these aren’t my views” non-denials are so funny. Do you think HE really believed that the govt was preparing concentration camps for citizens at any point during the many years he spent pandering to those fringe conspiracy theories in the media and on the circuit taking their money as the guy that represented their fears? Think he has a gold smelter in his house for quick withdrawals of money? That he actually wants to dismantle the Fed and IRS while stating repeatedly that he does for a few decades?
He’s a populist and a grifter. He only seems racist because he was pandering to racists that day. On the days he’s pandering to kooks, he looks like a kook. And every 4 years he looks at his bank balance and decides its time to raise tens of millions of dollars to almost run for president again.
BTW, big props to Sarah Palin for taking it one step further in the grifting stakes.
From a deliberately unelectable candidate who can still perpetually fund raise on positions that never have to be tested, to simply fund raising while never actually becoming a candidate.
It is amusing, isn’t it, that in all the furor over the vile racist crap in the newsletters, hardly anyone has pointed out the general nutty conspiracy theory stuff. Take out all the racist crap, and what’s left? A bunch of nonsense.
To exploit racism, hate and the degradation of the human spirit, as so many Republicans have done, to further the pursuit of power and money, is perhaps even more repugnant.
Rush Limbaugh would be the poster asshole here.
Not quote, but close, it seems. When it comes to the gold bug routine. he has apparently put his money where his mouth is:
More here: click.
This is, of course, not exactly comforting.
Point taken, however, about the conspiracy stuff.
How do you figure he grabbed millions from the government trough? Where is your basis for that? The circulation for this newsletter was in the thousands and unless each of those subscribers were paying hundreds of dollars for these newsletters and every cent of that money went to Ron Paul, extraordinarily unlikely, he would barely be scraping off a million dollars. And that money wouldn’t even be from the government, it would be from private individuals. If you’re referring to any other money-grabbing by Paul, please enlighten me.
Granted, he should have been aware of this, but he was also practicing medicine during this time since he didn’t fall into millions of dollars from his parents, unlike a number of other candidates, so his focus was not on campaigning or politics during a large portion of the circulation. Hardly anyone is claiming that Ron Paul’s a racist because his voting record over the past decades and his speeches/personal relationships are completely void of any evidence of racial, gender, or sexual discrimination, and therefore the crux of the argument is that he is not able to run a country due to his lack of oversight on the circulation and content of the newsletter.
I hardly see the oversight of a newsletter with a thousand person circulation, which nobody noticed for a decade, to be indicative of Paul’s inability to run a country. He found out about the newsletter and disavowed its content; what more do you want from the man? Do you want him to write a thesis about how he’s not racist and how the language in the newsletter is obviously written by a sophomoric ideologue or do you want to look at how a man has lived his life and consistently stood up for American values: free-markets, free-trade, personal autonomy, and a rational/sustainable foreign policy.
If this is the best that opponents can find against Paul, a newsletter reaching a thousand or so people from a decade ago, then I’ll continue to trust his consistent message from the past 30 years.
@Brandon: “The circulation for this newsletter was in the thousands and unless each of those subscribers were paying hundreds of dollars for these newsletters and every cent of that money went to Ron Paul, extraordinarily unlikely, he would barely be scraping off a million dollars.”
So you are conceding some of the newsletter money went to Ron Paul when it was published?
Remember we know he said in 1995 “I also do an investment letter” and “I also put out a political type of business investment newsletter…”
You then state “He found out about the newsletter and disavowed its content…”
He found out about the newsletter “which nobody noticed for a decade”.
Why am I confused that Ron Paul, in 2011, found out about and disavowed the newsletter that he says he “put out ” in 1995.
If this is the best that opponents can find against Paul, a horribly racist, anti-gay, anti-Jewish, rife with batshit crazy conspiracy theories newsletter reaching a thousand or so people from a decade ago, then I’ll continue to trust his consistent message from the past 30 years.
Just wanted to make sure we’re clear here.
But by all means, keep tap dancing. Perhaps that will make Dr. Paul’s repugnant racism, homophobia, anti-Jewish awfulness, and sundry looney paranoid theories magically disappear. Good luck!
Decades of Congressional salary and benefits.
If this is the best that opponents can find against Paul, a newsletter reaching a thousand or so people from a decade ago….
Shorter Brandon: Sure, Ron Paul’s newsletter contained all kinds of racist, homophobic, anti-Jewish, and downright crazy-ass conspiracy bullshit pandering to society’s worst tendencies, but only perhaps a thousand people purchased it, so that makes it OK. Plus it’s, like, ten years old!