Is Ron Paul a Bigot?

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 6:37 PM EST

James Kirchick has the Paulites in a fuss. The onetime Marty Peretz assistant (and, some say, political doppelganger) is now a newly-minted TNR assistant editor, and his latest effort is a revealing investigation into Ron Paul's past.

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The basic story, according to Kirchick, is that a bunch of un-bylined newsletters published under Paul's name (e.g., "The Ron Paul Political Report") since the late 70s are filled with homophobic, racist, antisemitic, and otherwise distasteful invective; paranoia; conspiracy theorizing; and personal attacks.

(Mother Jones' own Josh Harkinson wrote a feature of Dr. Paul that we published online in December. Read it here.)

Dr. Paul, to his credit, quickly issued a response accepting "moral responsibility" for the newsletters but denying he wrote them:

The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts....

...This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publically taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.

So Paul denies actually writing the newsletters. "A lot of [the newsletters] he did not see," a spokesman told Kirchick. "Most of the incendiary stuff, no." That seems awfully convenient, and the argument that there are no bylines and the quotes don't "sound like" Paul sounds like wishful thinking. After all, the newsletters have names like "Paul's Freedom Report," "Ron Paul Political Report," and "The Ron Paul Survival Report," and a lot of them are written in the first person, which, as Kirchick points out, implies authorship. Kirchick's best point is that, whatever the source, the publications "seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him--and reflected his views."

I'm not sure what to think. It is of course quite possible that the newsletters were, in fact, being published without Dr. Paul's knowledge or oversight. But even that less-horrifying scenario is enough to makes me seriously question Dr. Paul's judgment. Combined with the stories about Ron Paul's connections to neo-nazis, it makes for a pretty scary narrative. Anyway, Kirchick was on MSNBC yesterday to make his case to Tucker Carlson that the Paul campaign's denials don't hold water:

Were you convinced?

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