Ron Paul’s Ghosts Still On the March

[Note: I’ve read and do appreciate the valedictory comments already filed after my last post, but God help me, I’ve written some more during the hiaitus after the daily post devoted to raising money to support the place. So bear with me a bit longer; you know you’d be disappointed if I didn’t get within shouting distance of Steve’s productivity!]

Now that we’re all being forced, at least for a bit, to take Ron Paul somewhat seriously as a presidential candidate, the Doctor is rapidly discovering the downside of a long career marching through the fever swamps of extremist politics.

I’m sure most readers have heard about the racist and homophobic comments in his newsletters, which his campaign is blaming on ghostwriters. Now it transpires that Paul had some pretty controversial stuff to say in a book he published over his own, un-shared byline back when he was about to run for president as a Libertarian (and then re-published in 2007 before his last presidential run), according to CNN’s Peter Hamby:

In his 1987 manifesto “Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution after 200-Plus Years,” Paul wrote that AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle, questioned the rights of minorities and argued that people who are sexually harassed at work should quit their jobs….

Paul’s campaign manager Jesse Benton defended the book and said the candidate “has been speaking out for decades that rights do not come from belonging to a group.”

“Rights come because we are all individuals, endowed by our creator, and Americans must look beyond race or creed and recognize that we all deserving of the same Liberty,” Benton told CNN in an email. “This truth is a tenant of natural law and the only way we will achieve a color blind and truly free society.”

The vigorous pushback from Paul’s campaign probably reflects the fact that an awful lot of Republican caucus and primary voters have zero problems with the views expressed in the book. Certainly the idea that anti-discrimination laws are a violation of “natural law” is the kind of thing you hear in Tea Party/Christian Right circles, where “natural law” is regularly equated with “divine law” to condemn anything the self-righteous oppose.

So the ongoing ghosts in Ron Paul’s record probably won’t much affect his immediate prospects–certainly no more and probably less than his recent remarks on Iran which his opponents are shouting about all over Iowa.

Paul’s real problem in the long run is that because the GOP has moved so rapidly in his direction on monetary policy and the ideal size of the federal government, he seems to think it will now move in his direction on everything. So no wonder he’s not too worried about his past, which he and his devoted minions thinks is their party’s and country’s future.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.