The only reason these comments are difficult to pin directly on Paul is that almost all of the newsletters' poisonous essays were written without a by-line. But many were written in the first-person which implies that either Ron Paul was writing a lot of these himself, (which is nightmare scenario #1 for the Paul campaign), or the people who ran the newsletters intended for the reader to make that inference. This from Kirchik's article:
"When [Kerchik] asked Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign spokesman, about the newsletters, he said that, over the years, 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.""
If we take Benton and Paul at their word here, which is not easy to do after reading this article, then we must ask why Paul never asked that his name be taken off of the newsletters, or why he did not distance himself from those who ran and operated the newsletters. He's had since 1976 to disavow any association with the content of those newsletters and, as far as I know, he hasn't yet done this.
The reason I take this seriously is not just because "The New Republic" is a nationally-recognized and serious-minded publication, but because the worldview espoused in these newsletters (and click here to see a quick and dirty run-down of the worst of the written statements) seems like a more extreme version of the worldview he's espoused during this campaign. For example, he said a couple Sundays ago on "Meet the Press" that the Civil War should never have been fought. His justification seemed to be disgust, 150-years after the fact, over the number of lives lost. He asserted that the federal government could have purchased all those slaves and freed them rather than go to war over them. But this heretofore undiscovered association with the vitriol in these Ron Paul-titled newsletters puts Paul's thinking on the Civil War into a different and far less appealing light.
Yes, the article is damning, but I'm still open to an equally illuminating story detailing how Ron Paul's racist and homophobic (among other things) associates used and abused Ron Paul's name for their own agenda without the knowledge or approval of Ron Paul. I've always kind of liked Ron Paul, just as a guy if not so much as a candidate, and I would much prefer him to be slightly doddering enough to let people take advantage of him like this than the kind of guy who'd put out this sort of thing and actually believe it.
UPDATE: Ron Paul responds to the charges.
"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.So the slightly doddering Ron Paul is the truth, or at least what Paul's copping to. I do appreciate the sentiment with which he writes the second paragraph, but I have to say that this response is not terribly reassuring to me. Though Ron Paul-backer Andrew Sullivan (who reacts negatively to the New Republic story here) says that some of the quotes don't sound anything like Paul (the homophobic comments he cites as examples), and it's true they don't match up at all with the Ron Paul we've been hearing during this campaign. But at some point, to clear the air, I'd like to know which articles Ron Paul did write over the 30 years his newsletters have been going.
In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person's character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‘I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.'
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 publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”
I hope to hear a more thorough answer to the charges from the Ron Paul campaign.