Skip to comments.Rand Paulís Paleo Problem
Posted on 07/17/2013 7:03:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Rand Paul is the most interesting contender for the Republican nomination. And when I say interesting, I mean that in the broadest sense.
A case in point: Last week, the Kentucky senator hit some turbulence when the Washington Free Beacon reported that Jack Hunter, Pauls aide and the co-author of his book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, was once the Southern Avenger.
Whos that? Starting in the 1990s, as a radio shock-jock, Hunter would wear a wrestling mask made from a Confederate flag, while making jokes about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and having the South re-secede.
Although Lincolns assassin, John Wilkes Booths heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincolns murder . . . turned him into a martyr, Turner said in 2004. Maybe the humor is all in the delivery?
Hunters defenders, including my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano, think the reaction against Hunter has been cranked up by neocon hawks, whose ideology is . . . being discredited every day. According to Napolitano, Jacks sin in their eyes was having spoken favorably of states rights, and negatively of Lincoln.
Negatively of Lincoln is a curious understatement, given that Hunter who admits to giving a personal toast to Booth on his birthday once suggested Lincoln would have had an amorous relationship with Adolf Hitler.
Meanwhile, Hunter says he has matured and is embarrassed by much of what he said in the past. Moreover, he says that for all the theatrics and bombast, hes never said, believed, or done anything racist. I abhor racism, he wrote at his site, Southernavenger.com, and have always treated everyone Ive met with dignity and respect.
Such controversies are hardly new to Paulworld. Most famously, Rands father, former Representative Ron Paul, the three-time presidential candidate (for whom Hunter worked in 2012), published newsletters bearing his name that brimmed with bigoted bile. When his writing became controversial, the elder Paul insisted he hadnt known what was in his own newsletters (though in 1996 he took responsibility for them).
Both controversies stem from the same sinful strategy adopted by so-called paleolibertarians in the 1980s. The idea was that libertarians needed to attract followers from outside the ranks of both the mainstream GOP and the libertarian movement by trying to fuse the struggle for individual liberty with nostalgia for white supremacy. Thinkers such as Murray Rothbard hated the cultural liberalism of libertarians like the Koch brothers (yes, you read that right) and sought to build a movement fueled by white resentment. This sect of libertarianism played into the left-wing view of conservatism as racist. The newsletters, probably ghostwritten by Rothbard and former Ron Paul chief of staff Lew Rockwell, were the main organ for this effort.
The paleo strategy was a horrific mistake, libertarian economist Steve Horwitz wrote in 2011, though it apparently made some folks (such as Rockwell and Paul) pretty rich selling newsletters predicting the collapse of Western civilization at the hands of the blacks, gays, and multiculturalists.
By no means do all Ron Paul supporters subscribe to this dreck. Some are ignorant about this history, while others dismiss the controversies as a distraction from Pauls real message. Most take great offense at any suggestion that Paul or Paulism has anything to do with racism.
Rand Paul literally and figuratively grew up in the shadow of all this, but while hes always circumspect when talking about his dad, in private and in public he has given no hint of subscribing to the Rockwell-Rothbard thesis. Indeed, he is sincerely eager to reach out to African-American voters on issues like the drug war.
Rand Paul shares his fathers ambition to be president. Color me skeptical. Even though hes a vastly better politician morally and strategically than his father, in a climate where politicians like Mitt Romney and John McCain can be demonized as bigots, should Rand Paul ever be nominated, one can only imagine what his opponents, in and out of the media, would do. Unfairly or not, his task of clearing the air would be Augean.
Hence another irony. Defenders like Napolitano think Pauls critics subscribe to a dying ideology, but Pauls only shot at the White House hinges on thoroughly interring an ideology far more deserving of death. Hes got a lot more work ahead of him.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of the The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback.
So Paul has an aide who once earned his living with a corny schtick on radio. At least he’s not wandering the halls of Congress stealing random items, like some people’s aides.
Hmmm. I wonder what FReeper handle Jack Hunter posts under. This is straight out of some CW threads here.
I don’t think of Lincoln and Hitler in the same context. That said....
I would imagine that all of the libertarians on FR are right-leaning libertarians rather than left-leaning ones. How far to the right do you have to lean in order to become a paleolibertarian?
Evidently the neocons that have gobbled up NR are afraid of anything except their own worthless and dangerous ideology.
The Hunters and Deens will get tarred and feathered for comments made 20 years ago. But, the Spitzers, Weiners, and Filners of this world can commit much more egregious acts and all is forgiven.
Overall, I’d rate this as a pretty weak piece of journalism.
Everybody knows Rand’s dad was and is a fruitcake. Who cares about an assistant’s background from a decade earlier ?
“Thinkers such as Murray Rothbard hated the cultural liberalism of libertarians like the Koch brothers (yes, you read that right) and sought to build a movement fueled by white resentment.”
That’s a pretty bold statement that Jonah offers without any support. Murray Rothbard did seem to despise the social liberalism of people like the Koch brothers, but it’s another thing to portray that as proof he sought to build a movement “fueled by white resentment”.
Okay, so a piece on how interesting Rand Paul is winds up spending 90% of its space on his father Ron Paul, and a shared associate who was a radio shock jock 20 years ago.
Well, Joe Sobran was a prominent writer for National Review, and some people found that Sobran crossed the line into anti-semitism.
Rand Paul should be judged primarily on what HE has demonstrated. While he is a little libertarian for my taste, he “sell-out” rating is very low (comapared with say, Marco Rubio), and I think his priorites would be to bring sanity and principle back to taxes, spending and states’ rights. His court picks should be as sound as you can get (Roberts and Kennedy have shown you can never be sure. I think the biggest counterindicator of fidelity to the Constitution is wanting to be respected and liked by peers. Scalia and Alito don’t seem to care about that stuff. Thomas certainly doesn’t.)
RE: What is so horrible about paleolibertarianism? What exactly is palelibertarianism?
for one thing, many people have a distinct impression (right or wrong) that the Paul’s (Both Rand and Ron ) have an isolationist streak in them. The impression is that they do not want America involved in any military conflict (even when a country like Afghanistan is sheltering a terrorist who was responsible for killing 3,000 people on our soil ).
The media will demonize anybody with R behind their name. Perhaps Paul should have hired a good socialist, maybe the media would love him then?
That “Fruitcake” was instrumental in getting the legislation passed for the unlimited minting of gold and silver Eagles, and AFAIC, fruitcake or not THAT puts him at the top of the political pile of dung in my book...
Oh the horror.
Our homosexual military and our intelligence services are at this very moment arming Al Qaeda terrorists that are slaughtering Christian villages in Syria. The Pauls, those wacky kook isolationists, are against this, too.
OK, I gather that you don’t support invading the Taliban controlled Afghanistan (who were sheltering Bin Ladin) post-9/11 either?
I would think National Review would love Rand as he wants the open borders to continue.
RE: I would think National Review would love Rand as he wants the open borders to continue.
I think this describes the Wall Street Journal more than the National Review.
There isn't much of a field to choose from, at least not to me, and Rand Paul is one of the few currently worthy of consideration.
“having the South re-secede”
I’m on-board. This doesn’t trouble me at all.
What I don’t like about Rand Paul is his willingness to go along with amnesty under the right conditions. I also would also want to know that he doesn’t want to import masses more of mohammedans into our country as Bush did and as Hussein is now doing.
I read the newsletters at the time. The early ones were quite interesting and accurate. Later, a little hysterical, but I should take another look at them, in view of what's happened since. I disagree with Rockwell frequently, and Ron Paul whenever he talks about foreign policy. But Jonah is not worthy to carry the slippers of any of them.
Well, there's the rub. From the perspective of too many, they say 'even McCain and Romney got pinned as extreme right wingers so we can't run someone who actually is conservative'. The opposite it true. We should nominate our most effective principled conservatives because a) No matter who we nominate, they'll get attacked 24/7 as extreme, and b) a good conservative with communication skills can take down that narrative.
Romney made a wrong-headed meandering statement about the 47% that the media and democrats rode all the way to November. He got the whole thing wrong. Although his initial premise was right, he could not articulate why correctly, even after being hit with the charge. Yes, it makes no sense to target a campaign to win voters on the other side. He mangled the rest, and his response after the fact was meant to neutralize and not advance his campaign message. A Ronald Reagan would have turned that into pure gold.