Wall Street Journal Joins Coverage of Paul Supporters

At the beginning of the week I had a post on how coverage of the behavior of Paul’s supporters was increasing, quoting from an article from Congressional Quarterly. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on this problem today:

Some blogs have booted Paul supporters for leaving incendiary comments. They have also been frozen out of Internet surveys and accused of electronic ballot stuffing; Dr. Paul rarely loses online straw polls even though he barely registers in national telephone polls. His supporters argue that they win online polls because there are more Paul supporters and they’re better organized.

Many of Dr. Paul’s supporters say they’re simply fighting a media and political establishment that won’t give him a fair shake. The big Nov. 5 “moneybomb” fund raiser was timed to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day and inspired by the 1980s comic-book series “V for Vendetta,” in which a vigilante in a Guy Fawkes mask wages war against a totalitarian British state.

The Paul campaign has also drawn support from antigovernment fringe groups and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Since mid-September, a large “Ron Paul for President” banner has flashed at the bottom of white-supremacist Internet forum Stormfront.org. “Really, we haven’t seen a candidate like Ron Paul in some time. The closest would have been Pat Buchanan” in 2000, says Don Black of West Palm Beach, Fla., the group’s founder and a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, who donated $500 to Mr. Paul’s campaign.

What harms Paul is not necessarily the actions and views of his supporters but that he does not appear to understand how poorly they reflect upon him. By ignoring these problems, they guarantee that Paul will remain a fringe candidate.

The Paul campaign has a hands-off approach when it comes to supporters’ activities and political backgrounds. While grateful for the money, aides insist they aren’t responsible for what supporters do online. “We don’t know who a lot of these people are,” says Jesse Benton, a campaign spokesman.

Mr. Benton declined to make Dr. Paul available to comment. “Sometimes, Ron Paul supporters get a little overpassionate and maybe a little more shrill than what some might like,” Mr. Benton says. “For the most part, our supporters are polite and mannerly.” He has his own conspiracy theory: Some other candidates’ supporters may be masquerading as Ron Paul supporters to hurt his campaign.

This only highlights that the Paul campaign is simply not ready for prime time. Any serious candidate would return a contribution from Don Black once it was reported by the media. The conspiratorial mind set seen by Paul and his supporters makes even people who might agree with Paul on many issues question whether he is rational enough to have the powers of the presidency.

Denial of the problem further harms their credibility. Some Paul supporters are no doubt “polite and mannerly” but most journalists and bloggers run into an incredible number who are not. The closest thing we have seen to this phenomenon was with some of the Dean supporters in 2003. In contrast to the Paul campaign Joe Trippi, as well as many of the responsible Dean supporters, made an effort to convince these people that their actions were harmful to their candidate.

I have heard the claim that these may be supporters of other candidates many times but this is hardly convincing. Supporters of other candidates would be far more likely to devote any efforts against the serious candidates as opposed to against a candidate such as Paul who has no chance of winning the nomination. To believe that they all got together to imitate Paul supporters makes no more sense than the conspiracy theories they spread about the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, Jews, and the Trilateral Commission.

The article does capture some of the reasons Paul supporters are looked down upon by many bloggers:

“Basically, it got to the point where someone could put up a post saying they were going to the bathroom, and a dozen Paultards would comment, ‘Vote for Ron Paul while you’re there,’ along with another dozen warnings of the Zionist conspiracy in the toilet,” says Erick Erickson, founder of popular conservative blog Redstate. A month ago, the site banned posts from some Paul supporters, branding them “MoRons.”

Afterward, the site was “deluged” with comments and “swarms and swarms” of hate mail, Mr. Erickson says. He changed the site’s phone number, and says other blog owners have contacted him seeking advice on discouraging Paul supporters from posting.

Cris Vanricma of Ludington, Mich., removed Dr. Paul from his bipartisan presidential poll, StrawPoll08.com, after receiving nasty emails from some Paul supporters, contending some polls that Dr. Paul wasn’t winning were rigged. The 31-year-old Web designer made a blanket offer: If the messages stop, the congressman goes back on. So far, Dr. Paul remains off the poll.

The problems include more than nasty email and manipulation of on line polls. Paul supporters commonly spam the comments of blogs which do not agree with their positions one hundred percent, failing to see the benefit of coverage from blogs which cover positive as well as negative aspects of Paul’s campaign. The comments, in addition to being insulting, frequently involve racism or reference to conspiracy theories. Many others simply lack any ability to present a coherent argument. A tremendous number of the comments held in moderation here are ones where Paul supporters first misrepresent what I’ve said about Paul and then argue against the straw men they create as opposed to what was actually written. Others simply claim that anything negative is a lie, even if involves reference to Paul’s voting record or writings which are freely available for review.

Paul supporters also show a considerable lack of toleration for other viewpoints, falsely thinking they have a monopoly on pro-freedom and anti-war stands. A tremendous number of comments from Paul supporters also allege evil motives as opposed to honest disagreement from those who don’t agree with them one hundred percent, with many even making reference to the dark forces they believe are paying bloggers to write negative posts about Paul.

Even many libertarians are beginning to realize how much Paul supporters are hurting their cause:

Some Paul supporters preach restraint. “I cannot stand to read another reporter/blogger complain about how they have received profane/threatening/intimidating responses from Ron Paul supporters,” wrote “Hestia,” a frequent poster on the Daily Paul, a popular pro-Paul site. “Sending hostile and abusive emails will not win supporters or encourage bloggers or reporters to write positive articles,” Hestia adds.

In the last few days I’ve also noted how some libertarians are reacting negatively to Paul here and here.

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4 Comments

  1. 1
    RonPaul33 says:

    Wall Street Journal Joins Coverage of Paul Supporters. The Paul has a. http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=2421

  2. 2
    Alexia says:

    Opinion pieces shall be the death of this country. Perhaps yhey should be outlawed as Hate Speech.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    The freedom to express one’s opinion, including in opinion pieces, is one of the strengths of this country.

  4. 4
    RonPaul33 says:

    Wall Street Journal Joins Coverage of Paul Supporters. The Paul has a. http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=2421

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