More responses to Ron Paul’s surge

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Ron Paul
Ron Paul

A Ron Paul morning wrapup. As Paul surges, the media are trying to get their heads around the phenomenon, figure out who he is. On NBC Nightly News last night, Chuck Todd likened Ron Paul’s youth army (chronicled in the NYT yesterday) to Gene McCarthy’s Clean-for-Gene antiwar army of 1968.

Meantime, Robert Siegel on NPR did a piece highlighting Ron Paul’s antiwar positions and asked reporter Don Gonyea about the belief (expressed by neoconservative David Brooks on NPR) that these views would hurt Paul in Iowa:

SIEGEL: Don, a lot of people thought that Ron Paul’s ideas about defense would hurt him in the Republican nominating contest, but he’s been front and center with them and it seems to be working.

Gonyea said these views have helped Paul stand out. Siegel then asked about Paul’s racist newsletters and “his opposition to the U.S. relationship with Israel.” Gonyea said this hasn’t come up at town hall meetings.

Alternet went after Paul’s relationship with a minister who favors the death penalty for gays here:

The campaign issued a press release lauding [endorsement by Nebraska evangelical pastor Phillip] Kayser and trumpeting his endorsement, citing “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” Then came word of Kayser’s “Christian belief” in applying the death penalty for gay male sex, and the Paulites got busy scrubbing their press release from the campaign Web site…

Hard-core Christian Reconstructionists like Kayser and Phillips (who is also a founder of the modern religious right and a close ally of Ron Paul) aren’t easy to come by, despite the profound but often undetected influence of Reconstructionist thought on right-wing evangelical churches. One area of difference between Reconstructionists and more garden-variety evangelicals is toward Israel and the vision of the end-times. The more common position among evangelicals is premillennialist, meaning that Israel must be constituted as a nation before Jesus will return to rule the righteous. As we reported last August, Reconstructionists adhere to the view expressed by Ron Paul at a “Pastor’s Forum” at Chuck Baldwin’s Pensacola, Fla., church — that Christians are the new “chosen people,” and the righteous must rule for 1,000 years before Jesus will return.

Andrew Sullivan has my view of the matter, that Paul represents a strong grassroots antiwar feeling, and that people like David Brooks are seeking to delude us on this score. And he explains the youth attraction to Paul as not being xenophobic.

So most Americans seem to disagree with the Beltway that Ron Paul is somehow an impermissible candidate for president. Why am I not surprised?

Meanwhile, Ron Paul has grasped the Iran question more aggressively as the voting nears. He is the only candidate who has taken military force off the table with respect to Iran’s nuclear program. Obama is still threatening, with poor Leon Panetta being dragged back and forth in public by the Greater Israel lobby. Paul, in other words, is the only candidate we can be sure will not take us into a third war with a Muslim country in a decade. And he seems to believe this is a strength. No wonder Washington is still scratching its collective head.

The mindset that the world is our plaything remains entrenched. Only Paul has moved beyond that. If you ask me, that’s the core of his appeal to the young.

I do wonder if any of those young people are ethnic minorities…

Leon Hadar of The American Conservative worked for Ron Paul last time round and wrote a month back that libertarians and antiwar left have to join forces.

libertarians can only do foreign policy by working with other groups on the left and the right, including the members of the somewhat dormant realist wing of the Republican Party, traditional conservatives, and progressive Naderites. This is their only hope to counter the influence of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists.

In Haaretz today Hadar swears that Ron Paul likes Jews– Haaretz, which yesterday extracted pro-Israel statements from Paul, including the idea that Israel should be free to attack Iran. While at American Conservative today Hadar writes:

Paul’s strong opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq and to President George Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” in the Middle East, as well as his refusal to support an American military campaign against Iran, reflects his commitment to these libertarian non-interventionist principles. He believes that Iran — with or without nukes — does not pose a direct threat to U.S. interests, and that nuclear Israel has the capabilities to contain a nuclear Iran.

There is nothing “anti-Israeli” in Paul’s resistance to providing aid to Israel. He has been a long-time opponent of providing American economic aid to all foreign countries, which, he believes, amounts to wasting U.S. tax-payer money on sustaining policies that do not necessarily align with American interests and values.Instead, he would encourage the promotion of trade and investment ties with Israel and other countries.

Hence, that Paul regards Israel as “our close friend” is not inconsistent with his opposition to providing aid to Israel or resisting a war with Iran. Paul has stressed that when it comes to pursuing its own national interests vis-a-vis Iran or the Palestinians, Washington should not “dictate how Israel runs her affairs,” Paul stressed.

Like me, antiwar leftwinger Robert Scheer at truthdig has embraced a lot of the Paul agenda in a post titled, Marginalizing Ron Paul:

[Opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964], along with the decade-old racist comments in the newsletters Paul published, is certainly worthy of criticism. But not as an alternative to seriously engaging the substance of Paul’s current campaign—his devastating critique of crony capitalism and his equally trenchant challenge to imperial wars and the assault on our civil liberties that they engender.

Paul is being denigrated as a presidential contender even though on the vital issues of the economy, war and peace, and civil liberties, he has made the most sense of the Republican candidates. And by what standard of logic is it “claptrap” for Paul to attempt to hold the Fed accountable for its destructive policies? That’s the giveaway reference to the raw nerve that his favorable prospects in the Iowa caucuses have exposed. Too much anti-Wall Street populism in the heartland can be a truly scary thing to the intellectual parasites residing in the belly of the beast that controls American capitalism.

It is hypocritical that Paul is now depicted as the archenemy of non-white minorities when it was his nemesis, the Federal Reserve, that enabled the banking swindle that wiped out 53 percent of the median wealth of African-Americans and 66 percent for Latinos, according to the Pew Research Center.

Back to the critics. In 2003, Ron Paul expressed concern about the alleged war on Christmas. Digby offers this criticism of Paul’s “antebellum” states’ rights views here.

And Bruce Wolman offers the following analysis:
What is the hierarchy of values/principles that drive Paul’s politics? 
On the top of the heap for Ron Paul is “states rights” and “private property rights”. We all know the history of those two marching songs. While Paul’s anti-war stances and liberalism can attract adherents, if he were to become President those positions wouldn’t necessarily have the consequences many supporters might think. Let’s say Paul becomes President and does reduce US militarism, foreign interventionism, eliminate Federal drug laws, etc. His States Rights position would allow states to pick up the slack in all of these areas. From my reading of Paul, the Federal Government would stop supporting Israel, but he would have not hinder New York and California cutting their own deals with the Israelis if the states so chose. Nor would he have any problem with Israel handling the Palestinians, Iranians and its Arab neighbor problems anyway it saw fit. The US government would simply not intervene. While US military aid would end, US defense corporations could sell their wares abroad without government control or intervention. While the Federal Government would restrict its own violations of civil liberties, the states would be able to run their own affairs and corporations would be without regulation or interference of their fundamental right to use their property and capital as they saw fit, including spending on political involvement.
 
One of the reasons Christian extremists are attracted to Paul despite his libertarian positions is that they believe his states rights priority would allow them to regulate private behavior on the state level. Paul in fact does argue that there is no federal right to privacy. As a result, many of Paul’s libertarian positions are simply not relevant to the Presidency or the Federal Government as he conceives those institutions. In fact I would argue that if Paul was running for Governor of Iowa as opposed to President of the USA, he would attract a smaller following. His message of resonance is getting the Feds out of one’s life.

Update: Earlier version of this post ascribed last quote to Digby. Nope. From Bruce Wolman, who tipped me to Digby. Apologies.

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