More Reaction to The Exposure of Ron Paul

Everyone’s coming out of the woodwork now to admit that they knew the truth about Ron Paul all along. I, along with a handful of other bloggers, have been posting on this for quite a while, but it took an article at The New Republic to change the conventional wisdom. Virginia Postrel previously thought that Paul wasn’t worth writing about, but apparently was moved to post after receiving this email:

My wife and I were big Ron Paul supporters (until yesterday, in fact). We’re also 29 and 30 years old, which means we weren’t paying attention to Ron Paul in the 90’s. We donated money to the campaign, and I suppose we failed to do the due diligence on Paul, as we didn’t dig through archives of his old newsletters. We feel terrifically betrayed, not only by Ron Paul, but by older libertarians like yourself for not publicly warning us about him. If you knew he was such bad news and that he was becoming one of the biggest mainstream representatives of libertarian thought, why didn’t you warn us? I’ve been reading your work for about ten years, and I consider you a very fair and smart writer and if you had given a public warning about Ron Paul, I, for one, would have listened. But now my wife and I and probably thousands of other young libertarians and libertarian sympathizers have been tricked into supporting something that sickens me. Even your colleague at the Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan, was taken in among lots of other public people. I’m stunned by what Ron Paul turned out to be, but I’m also stunned that waited to mention him until it was too late to do any good.

Considering that Paul never had a chance to have a real impact on the Republican race, her previous lack of interest in commenting on him is understandable. Also justifiable is her questioning of those who have promoted Paul’s campaign while white washing his record but who should have known better:

I do fault my friends at Reason, who are much cooler than I’ll ever be and who, scornful of the earnestness that takes politics seriously, apparently didn’t do their homework before embracing Paul as the latest indicator of libertarian cachet. For starters, they might have asked my old boss Bob Poole about Ron Paul; I remember a board member complaining about Paul’s newsletters back in the early ’90s. Besides, people as cosmopolitan as Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch should be able to detect something awry in Paul’s populist appeals. (Note that by “cosmopolitan” I do not mean “Jewish.” I mean cosmopolitan.) I suspect they did but decided it was more useful to spin things their way than to take Paul’s record and ideas seriously. As for Andrew Sullivan, his political infatuations are not his strong point as a commentator.

I’ve recently posted a run down of other libertarian responses to the recent article. Many others like Postrel were well aware of Paul’s past and some have also been posting on this during the campaign. Much of the talk is centering around those who wrote under Paul’s name and the relationship to Paul. Doug Mataconis summarizes this discussion and concludes, “libertarians need to ask themselves why the philosophy of freedom is attracting racist troglodytes.” This is something I’ve discussed many times, questioning whether Paul really promoted a philosophy of freedom. Paul’s philosophy is really one of social conservativism (with a few quirks), opposition to all foreign entanglements, and states’ rights. While his views have certain areas of overlap with libertarianism, there were always enough areas of difference for libertarians to have known better than to embrace his views or the man.

Tim Cavanaugh raises a similar point that “there’s a discussion to be held among libertarians about why this political philosophy seems to draw so many (classically) illiberal figures; and the hubbub over Paul’s newsletters, which are revelatory whether Paul wrote them or not, seems like an opportunity.”

In considering who actually might have written the articles quoted by The New Republic, Wendy McElroy writes:

The identity of the author of the ‘objectionable’ material from past issues of Ron Paul’s Newsletter — material that is currently being used by major media to skewer Paul [see blog post below] — is an open secret within the circles in which I run. The news accounts refer to him merely as an “aide.” We call him by his first name.

Wirkman has similar memories:

Most of us “old-time” libertarians have known about this sad period of Ron Paul’s career from the get-go. We know that it was a lapse on his part. But we who opposed it (and not all of us did) put much of the blame on the writers involved, not on Paul, who was, after all, juggling family, medicine, politics, and continued study of actual economics. That Paul didn’t realize what he was doing to his own moral stance is amazing. His style is one of earnest moralizing. That fits his character. The ugliness of this career move speaks a sad story.

AP Reports Richardson Dropping Out of Race

AP is reporting that Bill Richardson is planning to drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination. AP reports this based upon information from two people close to his campaign who have spoken on a condition of anonymity. They say that Richardson will be making the announcement on Thursday.

I was interested in Richardson early and there appeared to be a possibility of Richardson at very least challenging Edwards for third place last summer. Richardson’s campaign never took off, partially due to a number of minor gaffes which had a cumulative effect of preventing Richardson from looking like a serious candidate. By the end of 2007 I was both questioning whether Richardson would make a good candidate, and had given up any hope that he could seriously challenge for the nomination. The results in Iowa and New Hampshire also demonstrated that few held out much hope for him. If this report is true, I suspect it means that he does not expect to do well in Nevada.

I wonder if Richardson made a mistake trying to differentiate himself based upon taking the most aggressive stance with regards to leaving Iraq quickly among the Democratic candidates. Richardson just never fit the role as “the” peace candidate or the candidate from the left.Richardson has received the support of many independents, as well as libertarian-leaning Democratic voters. While many of his positions were based more upon pragmatism than libertarian principles, some libertarians saw Richardson as a candidate who was friendlier to business and less supportive of big government than his rivals. In failing to stress such issues or show a real reason to support him, Richardson’s support remained minimal. While positioning himself in such a manner might have helped in the general election, it is also questionable if such positions would have been successful in the Democratic primaries.

The rise of Barack Obama further prevented Richardson from being able to receive a significant amount of support from independents. Running on his resume was also not a very successful strategy in a year in which voters desired change or were interested in the stars, leaving the three most experienced candidates in the second tier far behind the less experienced top tier candidates.

Richardson’s campaign is denying the report but is speaking of suspending the campaign and stopping active campaigning while preparing for the legislative session in New Mexico. Regardless of whether he suspends or ends the campaign, there is little doubt that Richardson will not have any significant impact on the race.

Update: The New York Times reports Richardson is out

Woman Brought Clinton to Tears and Then Voted for Obama

The moment when Hillary Clinton showed emotion in New Hampshire very well might be the moment which turned around her double digit deficit in the tracking polls. To some, this was the moment in which Clinton look more human than she ever has. Some have speculated that the moment was fake. Personally I don’t think that this one moment was significant enough to determine how one should vote, but it certainly appears to have helped Clinton. Maureen Dowd even wonders whether Hillery can “cry her way back to the White House.”

It appears that the woman who made Hillary cry agrees that this was not enough to determine how to vote. She wound up voting for Obama:

Marianne Pernold Young, 64, a freelance photographer from Portsmouth, N.H., told ABC News that while she was moved by Clinton’s emotional moment, she was turned off by how quickly the New York senator regained her “political posture.”

“I went to see Hillary. I was undecided and I was moved by her response to me,” Pernold Young said in a telephone interview with ABC News. “We saw 10 seconds of Hillary, the caring woman.”

“But then when she turned away from me, I noticed that she stiffened up and took on that political posture again,” she said. “And the woman that I noticed for 10 seconds was gone.

If Clinton’s comeback was really due to this episode, I was already wondering how long she could capitalize on it before voters found more important items to consider. If Young’s account is publicized as much as the initial event, this bounce might not last very long.

The Good News for Obama with Two Union Endorsements

After polls predicted a double digit victory, the results in New Hampshire can only be seen as disappointing for Obama even though a month ago the combined outcomes in Iowa and New Hampshire would have been seen as a remarkable accomplishment. Fortunately there are two items of good news for Obama as he goes into Nevada.

Obama has received the endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union. The union has 60,000 members while only 40,000 total voters are expected to vote in the primary. The Service Employees International Union in Nevada also endorsed Obama, partially due to feeling that Edwards is not a viable option. Such calculations could continue to affect future states, but there is no guarantee they will all break for Obama.

Bill Richardson’s poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire might also work to Obama’s benefit. Richardson has the potential of doing better in a western state, but many who would have considered voting for him are likely to now see him as an even less viable option than Edwards. Both Richardson and Obama have received much of their support from more independent-minded Democratic voters, leaving Obama the potential of picking up votes from people who had been considering Richardson. On the other hand, Richardson has had ties to the Clintons in the past and has sometimes defended Hillary at debates leaving open the possibility that some of his potential voters might vote for her instead.

What Happened in New Hampshire?

After Obama’s impressive victory in Iowa many pundits, including those in Clinton’s own campaign, were expecting a double digit victory for Obama in New Hampshire. The polls coming out over the weekend also suggested this. The question today is why the pundits and polls got it wrong.

To begin with, the polls might not have gotten it wrong. Polls are a snap shot of where the race is at any moment, and as I’ve noted many times voters in primaries make up their minds at the last minute. While a smaller number of voters are likely to switch from party to party, the differences between candidates in a primary are not as great. The exit polls showed that 39% of those who voted for Clinton decided to do so in the final day. It is quite possible that if the primary was held on Sunday Obama would have won as predicted by the polls.

If the polls did get it wrong, it might have been due to the Bradley affect. The theory is that some white voters might tell pollsters that they would vote for the black candidate but actually vote for the white candidate when in the privacy of a polling booth. The Bradley effect would not be seen in Iowa where voting is open.

What most likely happened is that it took far less than many of us anticipated for votes to shift at the last minute and Hillary Clinton’s reverse Muskie moment could have worked to her advantage, especially among women voters who thought that this humanized her. Saturday’s debate might have also helped Clinton, with women voters objecting to seeing the two male candidates both ganging up on her.

There are also a number of other factors which could have affected the vote. These include buyer’s remorse as some second guessed their choice, and perhaps preferred that the race did not end so soon. Some may have decided to vote for the underdog, or to vote against the candidate that was supposed to win based upon the conventional wisdom and polls.The fortunes of two other candidates could have also influenced the vote. Independents might have felt confident that Obama would win based upon the polls, and therefore decided their votes would have more impact in helping John McCain in the Republican primary.

The decline in support for Edwards could have also helped Clinton. The conventional wisdom is that Edwards and Obama split the “change” vote, but this oversimplifies the situation. There are different groups of voters who view the candidates based upon different criteria. Many lower income voters who supported Edwards may have went to Clinton. Should Edwards collapse further we might then see him lose the support of additional types of voters who are more anti-Clinton.

After being surprised by last night’s results, many of us will be more gun shy in making predictions. (I sure can’t keep trying to get away with the Ron Paul defense and claim the predictions were written by someone else without my knowledge.) From the perspective of a blogger, this could be a good thing as we now have wide open races in both parties. We’ve never had a situation such as this when we have had four different winners between the two parties in Iowa and New Hampshire. This could also be helpful to the candidates. Yet another possible reason that Obama didn’t do as well as anticipated is that he appeared to be playing it safe at the end while Clinton was being more open in speaking to the voters. This could be a valuable lesson for the general election campaign.

Arguments could be made as to who is now in a better position. A few weeks ago if you said that Obama would win in Iowa and narrow the gap to under three percent in New Hampshire, the impression might have been that Obama would be the one with the momentum to become front runner. However, after appearing to be down by double digits at the last minute, Clinton sure looks like the comeback gal.

New Hampshire Exit Polls and Religion

The exit polls from New Hampshire show many trends, such as increased support for Obama with greater education, higher income, younger age, and lack of party affiliation. unlike in Iowa, Clinton won among women, possibly aided by the video of her showing emotion the day before the vote. With Obama often discussing faith in the campaign, the questions on religion are also of interest.

Obama beat Clinton decisively, by 45% to 29% among those reporting no religious affiliation. Obama also led Clinton more narrowly by a 39% to 35% margin among those who never attend church services, but also led among those who attend weekly. Those who attend church less than once a week favored Clinton.

The lead among those who attend church frequently isn’t surprising in light of Obama’s personal religious views. These numbers show that not only doesn’t Obama alienate the non-religious, but that he receives their support. This might simply be a consequence of the demographics Obama otherwise attracts, but it might also be due to his statements in defense of separation of church and state. Many who are not religious do not believe that the religion of a candidate matters but have gained increased respect for the importance of separation of church and state as the principle has come under attack in recent years.

Obama spoke about separation of church and state during the CNN/YouTube debate. He also discussed this during an interview with CBN in July, Obama said:

For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn’t the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn’t want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves.

It was the forbearers of Evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they didn’t want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it. Given this fact, I think that the right might worry a bit more about the dangers of sectarianism.

Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. We should acknowledge this and realize that when we’re formulating policies from the state house to the Senate floor to the White House, we’ve got to work to translate our reasoning into values that are accessible to every one of our citizens, not just members of our own faith community.

There’s one other set of numbers which I found of particular significance as they might show why the polls released over the weekend were wrong. The exit polls show that 39% of Clinton supporters and 36% of Obama supporters decided who to vote for on the day of the primary. The polls might have been accurate on the day they were taken, but they were just a snap shot in an extremely fluid race.

The Plank also reviews the exit polls.

Many Libertarians Shocked By Exposure of Paul’s Relationship To Extremist Right

Over the last few months as revelations about Ron Paul’s ties to racist and neo-Nazi groups have been been reported some libertarians have become critical of Paul while others found excuses for his inexcusable behavior. The recent revelation that Paul does not accept evolution as established science had disillusioned many rational people who were had considered supporting him due to his opposition to the war. I found my post on Paul’s view of evolution has received numerous links from other blogs and forums. The reports in The New Republic on the racist writings in Paul’s newsletter are even disillusioning many libertarian writers and bloggers.

Radley Balko is “disappointed in Paul and in his campaign.” Paul might not personally be a racist, but his lack of understanding of the magnitude of this problem is a problem in itself. Balko wrote, “like Nick Gillespie, I think the most disappointing thing about all of this is what Dave Weigel posted this afternoon from New Hampshire: Paul doesn’t consider this worthy of a serious reaction. I was hoping for much, much more.”

Nick Gillespie is also disappointed in the response, writing, “I don’t think that Ron Paul wrote this stuff but that really doesn’t matter–the newsletters carried his name after all–and his non-response to Dave Weigel below is unsatisfying on about a thousand different levels. It is hugely disappointing that he produced a cache of such garbage.”

Daniel Koffler presents a long list of quotations from Paul and writes, “as a libertarian with significant sympathy for Paul’s platform, I initially viewed claims of his past history of racism skeptically. But the evidence is so overwhelming that the defense of Paul is now, itself, indefensible.”

David Harsanyi writes, “If George Bush or Hillary Clinton or any mainstream politician were even remotely associated with the sort of rambling anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist and paranoid text, they would be finished as legitimate voices. Paul should be finished, as well.”

Publius Endures writes, “At a bare minimum, the whole sequence shows horrible leadership; more likely, however, it shows actual sympathy for the views expressed therein.”

Ryan Sager writes, “To be clear: It doesn’t matter one bit if Ron Paul wrote any of this. It went out under his name, it reflects the views of many of his supporters, and he’s at the very least tacitly endorsed all of it for years by not denouncing it. Ron Paul doesn’t get to be judged by a lower standard because he’s a fringe candidate anymore. If Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, or anyone else had stuff like this under his name, it would be a career ender. That it’s not for Ron Paul shows exactly what his supporters are all about.”

Rand Simberg writes, “I’m willing to believe that he wasn’t the author, and even that he didn’t endorse the newsletter, but I find it troubling that he let this stuff go out under his own name for so long. The fact that he now takes “moral responsibility” for it now is nice, I guess, but it really makes one question his judgment. And his campaign continues to attract many unsavory elements of American politics, including 911 “Truthers,” who he seems to unwilling to denounce.”

Michael Goldfarb writes that the documents “prove what most of us knew all along: Dr. Paul isn’t just kooky, he’s deranged.” He argues that Paul’s refusal to return the contribution from Don Black as meaning, “He’s been speaking in code to the dregs of American society this whole time. And he had no intention of alienating his base of support.”

Arnold Kling suggests that Paul supporters might “Abandon Ron Paul, and question whether it is a good idea to be part of any mass movement.”

The problem with the Paul movement is that it has become a cult. Far too many of the cultists not only are willingly blind to their leader’s faults but have also begun to internalize his beliefs as they justify his writings and actions. If libertarianism is to have any credibility, libertarians must realize that Ron Paul’s views are not really about freedom except for providing the framework to defend the freedom to discriminate and oppress.