Monday, December 26, 2011

Disavowing Extremists But Accepting Their Support; Paul Continues Campaigning

Ron Paul is emblematic of what's wrong with politicians. He's on the record as espousing extremist views through a series of newsletters written in his name, with his name on the letterhead, and touted by Paul for years on end, but now that he's come in for far more scrutiny in the 2012 campaign season than he did in 2008 when these newsletters came to light, he's disavowed those newsletters and claims he didn't write them or know about them.

It's preposterous to think he didn't know the contents of these newsletters, but even granting him that, he still accepts support from the very kinds of people who espouse those kinds of conspiracies and extremist thoughts.
Don Black, director of the white nationalist Web site Stormfront, said in an interview that several dozen of his members were volunteering for Mr. Paul’s presidential campaign, and a site forum titled “Why is Ron Paul such a favorite here?” has no fewer than 24 pages of comments. “I understand he wins many fans because his monetary policy would hurt Jews,” read one.

Far-right groups like the Militia of Montana say they are rooting for Mr. Paul as a stalwart against government tyranny.

Mr. Paul’s surprising surge in polls is creating excitement within a part of his political base that has been behind him for decades but overshadowed by his newer fans on college campuses and in some liberal precincts who are taken with his antiwar, anti-drug-laws messages.

The white supremacists, survivalists and anti-Zionists who have rallied behind his candidacy have not exactly been warmly welcomed. “I wouldn’t be happy with that,” Mr. Paul said in an interview Friday when asked about getting help from volunteers with anti-Jewish or antiblack views.

But he did not disavow their support. “If they want to endorse me, they’re endorsing what I do or say — it has nothing to do with endorsing what they say,” said Mr. Paul, who is now running strong in Iowa for the Republican nomination.

The libertarian movement in American politics has long had two overlapping but distinct strains. One, backed to some degree by wealthy interests, is focused largely on economic freedom and dedicated to reducing taxes and regulation through smaller government. The other is more focused on personal liberty and constraints on government built into the Constitution, which at its extreme has helped fuel militant antigovernment sentiment.

Mr. Paul has operated at the nexus of the two, often espousing positions at odds with most of the Republican Party but assembling a diverse and loyal following attracted by his adherence to libertarian principles.

Mr. Paul’s calls for the end of the Federal Reserve system, a cessation of aid to Israel and all other nations and an overall diminishment of government power have natural appeal among far-right, niche political groups. Aides say that much of the support is unsolicited and that it is unfair to overlook the larger number of mainstream voters now backing him.

But a look at the trajectory of Mr. Paul’s career shows that he and his closest political allies either wittingly or unwittingly courted disaffected white voters with extreme views as they sought to forge a movement from the nether region of American politics, where the far right and the far left sometimes converge.
Paul's positions hew closely to those of extremists that want to push a gold standard, eliminate the Federal Reserve, and eliminate any and all kind of support for the State of Israel. Throwing all those positions together has brought together extremists of all stripes, including white supremacists, neo Nazis, and other kooks, and he has no problem continuing to garner support from the likes of Don Black with Stormfront.

Stormfront is a white supremacist group run by Black
, who not only is a former Klansman, but was among the first to recognize the importance of the Internet in spreading his messages of hate and vitriol.

Instead of distancing himself completely from the likes of Black and his followers, Paul is riding a thin line between accepting their support and volunteer efforts and claiming that he doesn't stand or support those positions.

That just is insufficient. He must purge his group of these hate groups and their supporters, but doing so would essentially eviscerate his own limited campaigning operations since it would expose just how closely bound he is to the extremists.

Then again, his flailing and failing campaign will implode in coming weeks, and will be little more than a footnote in the campaign when all is said and done.

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