Fatally Wounded?

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.

7 comments for “Fatally Wounded?

  1. Gary Treistman
    January 21, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Reason was shocked?

    Then why did Reason put out a similar knock him down piece, as bad if not worse than the New Republic article?

    Were they also shocked by their own article?

    Where is the disconnect here?

  2. January 21, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Go figure…he did come in second place in NV.

  3. January 10, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    That it is just making headlines now shows the disconnect between the MSM and the broadband world . This has been hashed over for months on the web .

    But Bob, this is being hashed out now almost exclusively on the web, as far as I know, and thank goodness for that. Have you followed all the commentary at Reason.com? All the editors there claim to be shocked — shocked! — by these revelations (despite the fact that Dave Weigel did a story about one of the newsletter items back in July). Personally, I knew about that one item in the one newsletter, but had thought it was an aberration. I didn’t realize that similar crap had made its way into the newsletters over a period of several years.

    My wife Dawn is usually a good barometer of how libertarian “scandals” will be perceived by regular folks. She thinks it’s much ado about nothing. “Everybody has something in their past that embarrasses them. That just makes him human.”

    And frankly, while some of it was way out of bounds, the author of the TNR piece also included a lot of stuff that frankly didn’t seem all that outrageous.

  4. January 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Ron Paul : “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 think he explains the situation well . That it is just making headlines now shows the disconnect between the MSM and the broadband world . This has been hashed over for months on the web .

    The comment I saw that being libertarian and racist is an oxymoron is well put . Listen to anything Paul says and it’s all about judging individuals rather than groups . Certainly his colored YouTube supporters know these old newsletter quotes are totally not his character .

  5. January 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Of course I saw it. :-) I thought it was great, certainly a much better venue than if he had been “included” in the Fox debate only to get ignored by the moderators. For an example of that, watch the Fox debate from South Carolina tonight, where Paul will be included.

  6. drewo
    January 9, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    This is the first time I’ve heard about this, and I’ve been spending much of my work day cruising the major new sites for Paul coverage.

    I think his Leno appearance on Monday night did a lot to up his cred. You saw it, didn’t you?

  7. January 9, 2008 at 1:07 am

    This is all truly upsetting. I was fairly sure given that he was polling at 8-9% in NH he had to be getting at few points higher when adding in independents. If we are to assume that the polls were right than… Paul won’t be getting anymore than 7% in the next few primaries. He hardly shows up here in NJ.

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