Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ron Paul, Continued

Guest post:

I've heard that Ron Paul has publicly distanced himself from his extremist followers, although I've yet to see a report about it. Certainly I hope the rumor is true. However, even the ultra-libertarians at Liberal Values make the sensible observation that

After pulling in another six million dollars you would think that Ron Paul could afford to do the right thing and return that $500 contribution from [neo-Nazi] Stormfront founder Don Black. At very least you would think that... he would at least realize that returning such a contribution is what any other candidate would do and what he must also do if he wants to be credible. Failure to do so also fuels the suspicions of racism and anti-Semitism on Paul’s part which has been noted in some of his writings.

In my last post on the topic, I discussed critical coverage from the "neo-cons" at National Review. In all fairness to Paul, I agree with many of his positions, especially on economics, morals and the family. But that leaves some major gaps. The one point that will lose him the broad base of Republic/conservative support is his position on the war. Personally, I don't mind a little elbow room on policy. Foreign affairs are a prudential matter, unlike abortion, which deals with moral absolutes. I can agree with paleo-cons that Wilsonian interventionism is both unnecessary and risky. But I disagree with their dogmatic isolationism; the idea that there's a one-size-fits-all pattern to political exigencies.

The libertarian Volokh Conspiracy makes this point with reference to Paul's views on federal policy and racism. While traditional conservatives would agree that left-wing statist policies have exacerbated the problem, it simply not true that state government is inherently better than the federal level (perhaps that is why the Founders wanted a balance between the two). Volokh points out that "It was, after all, state governments that took the lead in defending slavery, segregation, and other forms of discrimination against blacks and (in the Western states) Asian-Americans."

Some others have pitched in with their constructive criticism, showing that a cautious view of Paul is hardly the product of neo-con persecution. The most impressive of these is Dave Nalle's Blogcritics Magazine commentary of December 14. In it, Nalle comes across as very sympathetic. Yet he cautions against the the direction that Paul's "largely uncontrolled campaign is taking and the people who are infiltrating it and shaping it...." He condemns the more fanatical supporters: "Self-righteous ideologues make terrible politicians, they don't win elections and they're dragging Ron Paul down with them." Yet it is Paul's campaign, after all, and if he can't control that then one wonders how well he would control the presidency. However, the latter scenario seems highly unlikely, despite the recent record-breaking intake of campaign money.

Earlier post on Ron Paul.