The Ron Paul Newsletters: Naming Namesby Doug Mataconis
The Economist states openly what others have been saying privately since Tuesday:
While his statements sometimes leave the impression that Mr Paul simply licensed his name to people with whom he had little contact, there is much evidence to the contrary. The newsletters that appeared under his name were published by M&M Graphics and Advertising, a company run by Mr Paul’s longtime congressional campaign manager Mark Elam—which Mr Elam himself confirms. And according to numerous veterans of the libertarian movement, it was an open secret during the late-80s and early-90s who was ghostwriting the portions of Mr Paul’s newsletters not penned by the congressman himself: Lew Rockwell, founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and members of his staff, among them Jeffrey Tucker, now editorial vice president of the Institute.
Mr Rockwell denied authorship to Jamie Kirchick, the reporter whose New Republic article published earlier this week reignited controversy over the newsletters. But both Mr Rockwell (who attacked the New Republic article on his site) and Mr Tucker refused to discuss the matter with Democracy in America. (“Look at Mises.org,” Mr Tucker told me, “I’m willing to take any responsibility for anything up there, OK?”) According to Wirkman Virkkala, formerly the managing editor of the libertarian monthly Liberty, the racist and survivalist elements that appeared in the newsletter were part of a deliberate “paleolibertarian” strategy, “a last gasp effort to try class hatred after the miserable showing of Ron Paul’s 1988 presidential effort.” It is impossible now to prove individual authorship of any particular item in the newsletter, but it is equally impossible to believe that Mr Rockwell did not know of and approve what was going into the newsletter.
Rockwell, along with Murray Rothbard, went off on the “Paleolibertarian” journey in the early 1990s — to the point where they openly backed Pat Buchanan in 1996 and, quite honestly, adopted a good deal of Buchanan’s rhetoric. Obviously, Rockwell and others were using Ron Paul’s newsletters for their own agenda.
Why does this matter ? Well, here’s one reason:
This matters because, while Mr Paul may disavow the sentiments that were expressed under his name over the years, he has scarcely disavowed Mr Rockwell, who remains a friend and adviser. Mr Rockwell is one of the congressman’s most vigorous online boosters, accompanied him to an appearance on The Tonight Show, and often publishes Mr Paul’s writings on his Web site. Mr Paul now says the identity of his ghostwriter is of no importance. But if the person responsible for spreading venom under his name for many years remains a close associate, it suggests that Mr Paul is at least prepared to countenance pandering to racists, however respectable his own views. The candidate owes his supporters a far more complete explanation than he has thus far provided.
Pretty much the same thing I said yesterday.
Update: Over at Reason, Matt Welch has an interesting article contrasting what the Paul campaign is saying about the newsletters today and what was said back in 1996, when they became an issue in his Congressional campaign.