That’s Reason senior editor Brian Doherty’s diagnosis of the Ron Paul campaign in the wake of The New Republic’s hit piece today. I must admit, that was my initial reaction after I read the article about Ron Paul’s old newsletters, especially after I saw the source documents.
(If you haven’t read the article or heard about it yet, move along. Nothing to see here. And especially don’t open the links above.)
As it stands, I think it still could have led to a mortal wound, if Ron Paul’s campaign gained more momentum. Unfortunately, after a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, that’s unlikely. I was predicting a third-place finish today, and hoping the momentum would carry him to second in Nevada in 10 days. But jeez, if we can’t finish ahead of Ghouliani and Huckleberry in the Live Free or Die State, I can’t help thinking it’s over.
For the record, I don’t for a second believe Ron Paul has a racist bone in his body. He categorically repudiates the content of the newsletters. But at best, the scandal shows stupendously poor judgment on Dr. Paul’s part. How do you let a newsletter go out in your name–a politician’s most valuable asset–without being aware of the content?
As a long-time libertarian activist, I entirely undestand that our movement has more than its fair share of nutjobs. The “mainstream” political movements and parties have their nutters too, almost certainly more than we do in abolute terms, but our numbers are so small to begin with that ours are more vocal and visible. When you’re working with a really tiny talent pool, you sometimes can’t be too choosy about your allies. But that’s all the more reason to exercise due diligence when it’s your name that’s on the line.
As I mentioned Friday, I spent the weekend in New Hampshire canvassing for Ron Paul. I’ve done a lot more volunteering for him here in the city, and I’ve donated hundreds of dollars to his campaign at a time when my family budget is a bit tight. I would never have done that for a bigot. The silver lining to the poor showing in the New Hampshire primary is that this story will likely die within 24 hours, and I won’t have to spend the next few months doing damage control among my non-libertarian friends and relatives.