The bad ideas that keep Paulists from winning over the Party of Lincoln and Reagan.
-- Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul
Somebody needs to say this.
Does Ron Paul have a lot of interesting ideas he puts forward as a presidential candidate?
Yes. From his honestly libertarian views (he was the 1988 Libertarian presidential nominee, so he's been at this a long time) to his willingness to challenge the status quo on economics (questioning the role of everything from sugar subsidies to the Federal Reserve) to his emphasis on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, Congressman Paul has been fearless in sticking with his principles. And in bringing new ideas -- or old ideas -- to an American electorate that has been staggered by the far-left reality that is the Obama Administration.
But as complaints surface in the wake of his strong showing in the Iowa Straw Poll, complaints from Paul supporters and candidate Paul himself that he is not receiving the attention that is his due -- someone should say the Congressman and his supporters are correct. There should be -- must be -- more attention paid to the Paul campaign.
Because the Paul campaign is not just a campaign for president. This is a campaign -- a serious campaign -- to re-educate the American people to an alternate universe of reality. A campaign that goes far beyond whatever will happen at the polls in 2012.
And sorry to say, this re-education campaign does not present a pretty picture of itself.
Looming over the interesting and appealing ideas of the Paul campaign is a veritable political tornado of allegations involving anti-Semitism, racism, pacifism, far left-wingism and, at the edges, a tiny flicker of intimidation.
So let's spill it all out on the table and take a look.
Neoliberals and Quasi-Cons:
When it comes to foreign policy, Ron Paul and his supporters are not conservatives.
This is important to understand when one realizes that Paul's views are, self-described, "non-interventionist."
The fact that he has been allowed to get away with pretending to conservatism on this score is merely reflective of journalists who, for whatever reason, are simply unfamiliar with American history. Ironically, it is precisely because the Paul campaign has not been thoroughly covered that no one pays attention to the historical paternity of what the candidate is saying.
There is no great sin in Paul's non-interventionist stance (or "isolationist" stance as his critics would have it). There have been American politicians aplenty throughout American history, particularly in the 20th century, who believed precisely as Paul and his enthusiasts do right now. (Paul touts his admiration for the Founding Fathers, but even that is very selective. James Monroe of Monroe Doctrine fame was a considerable interventionist, Washington as a general invaded Canada, and Alexander Hamilton gave rise to Paul's idea of evil spawn -- the Federal Reserve. Interventionists of all types have been with us right from the start.)
The deception -- and it is a considerable deception -- is that almost to a person those prominent pre-Ron Paul non-interventionist "Paulist" politicians of the 20th century were overwhelmingly not conservatives at all. They were men of the left. The far left.
From three-time Democratic presidential nominee and Woodrow Wilson Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan to powerful Montana Democratic Senator Burton K. Wheeler to FDR's ex-vice presidential nominee Henry Wallace to the 1968 anti-war presidential candidacy of Minnesota Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy to 1972 Democratic presidential nominee (and Henry Wallace delegate in 1948) George McGovern, non-interventionists have held prominent positions in the American Left that was and is the Democratic Party.
But of particular interest, and here is where the deception by Paulists is so considerable, the Ron Paul view of foreign policy has been the cornerstone of Republican liberals and progressives. Those who, using current political terminology, would be called the RINOs (Republican In Name Only) of their day.
Specifically this included the following prominent leaders of the non-interventionist/isolationist camp:
• Liberal Republican William Borah, the Senator from Idaho
• Liberal Republican George Norris, the Congressman and Senator from Nebraska
• Liberal Republican Gerald Nye, the Senator from North Dakota
• Liberal Republican Robert LaFollette Sr., the Senator from Wisconsin
• Liberal Republican Robert LaFollette Jr., the Senator from Wisconsin
To go back and re-read the arguments of these prominent GOP liberals as to why America should not intervene in World War I or World War II, striking dated references, and one would think one were reading the latest Ron Paul press release. George Norris and LaFollette Sr. were both vocal opponents of World War I, for instance, blaming "greed" (LaFollette) and "munition" makers, the early 20th century version of Paul's attacks on "neoconservatives" or the military-industrial complex.
The one prominent exception on this score was the decided anti-New Dealer, Ohio Senator Robert Taft. Senator Taft was viewed as the pre-eminent conservative in his time in the U.S. Senate (elected in 1938, he died as the new Senate Majority Leader in 1953). But even Senator Taft ran straight into a part of the problem that Congressman Paul is encountering. While he was known as "Mr. Republican," Taft's non-interventionist streak -- which was considerable and thoroughly cloaked in the language of constitutionalism -- was seen by conservatives in the day as a confounding break with his conservatism. Snapped Taft's thoroughly conservative Uncle Horace Taft (brother of Taft's presidential father William Howard Taft) to conservative friends over his nephew's unwillingness to understand the danger posed by Adolph Hitler: He (Robert Taft) was "one of the best fellows in the world [but] dead wrong on foreign policy." As if to prove the point, Taft refused an endorsement request from Joe McCarthy -- supporting the liberal Republican and McCarthy primary opponent LaFollette, Jr. McCarthy won anyway.
Why is this important now?
Because Ron Paul, as noted, has deservedly developed a reputation for fiscal conservatism. Just as all of those Liberal Republicans from days long gone by were able to run and get elected as Republicans by developing enough of a conservative reputation for something seen as the conservative position in the time -- support for a tariff here or a government reform over there. All the while carrying the liberal flag for Bryan's left-wing Populism or Wilson's Progressive New Freedom or FDR's New Deal.
So if Ron Paul is conservative on domestic issues, but of a like mind with liberal non-interventionists of both parties, what precisely is Ron Paul?
The right term is certainly not conservative.
From liberal Republicans Borah, Norris, and Nye to the liberal Republican father and son LaFollettes, not to mention non-interventionists on the Democrats' side from Bryan to Burton Wheeler, Wallace, McCarthy and McGovern, some version of out-and-out liberalism was the order of the day for all. Liberal Republican LaFollette Sr. and liberal Democrat Senator Wheeler even teamed up to run on the Progressive Party presidential ticket in 1924, supported by no less than the Socialist Party.
The proper term for Paul and his followers, then, would take into account this political half horse/half man philosophical creativity. Conservative on domestic policy, a staunch advocate of historically liberal views on foreign policy.
Ron Paul is what might be called a "Neo-Liberal." Or even a "Quasi-Conservative."
A precise political book-end to those hated "Neo-Conservatives" Paul and company love to fantasize as everyone else in the political world who doesn't support Congressman Paul.
While one is free to disagree with his views, taken alone there's nothing off the tracks here. But unfortunately, Paul's views are not a stand-alone. If, to get right to the point, one is a self-described "non-interventionist" in foreign policy, history shows non-interventionists have been historically incapable of resisting what they clearly see as the next step after making the non-interventionist case. That next step?
Finding someone to blame for the calls to intervene in this or that war or international situation.
And right here is where Paul and his neolibs, in the style of his neolib predecessors, begin going off the rails.
Disturbingly, the history of Neoliberalism is replete with charges of anti-Semitism.
While this is a charge in today's political dialogue that has been thrown repeatedly at Paul and his neolib followers (more of which shortly), it has reared its ugly head with earlier neolibs long before Paul was on the political scene. It is a charge that appears to be inevitable when the core premise of non-interventionism is that some dark force somewhere is pushing America into an unconstitutional interventionist war.
All too often that dark force for the Neoliberals turns out to be the scapegoat of hard-leftists everywhere in the world: the Jews.
A story from history.
Before Pearl Harbor, as the war in America over going to war in Europe raged, the once fierce opposition by the American people to taking on Hitler and the Nazis began to change as Hitler's relentless march through Europe picked up speed. This opposition also began to change in Hollywood, and soon a small raft of anti-Hitler, anti-Nazi films began to appear. These included Confessions of a Nazi Spy starring Edward G. Robinson (1939), Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 Foreign Correspondent and, hilariously, Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940).
Neolibs were furious.
Senator Gerald Nye, the liberal Republican non-interventionist, took to the radio airwaves in August 1941to accuse Hollywood studios of serving as "gigantic engines of propaganda… to influence public sentiment in the direction of participation by the United States in the present European war." The speech, take note, was mostly written for Nye by one John T. Flynn, a former editor of the progressive New Republic magazine. (We'll come back to Mr. Flynn in moment.)
Nye also did something else in that radio address written by John Flynn. One by one he read out the names of the heads of these Hollywood studios -- names which, as he used particularly scathing or sarcastic tones to pronounce them -- were unmistakably taken by his audience to be Jewish names. Said Nye in the speech written by Flynn:
"….There is Harry and Jack Cohn, of Columbia Pictures. There is Louis B. Mayer, of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer…. There is Barney Balaban and Adolph Zukor, of Paramount…. There is Joseph Schenck and Darryl Zanuck, of Twentieth Century Fox…. There is Murray Silverstone, of United Artists, and the great Sam Goldwyn, of Samuel Goldwyn, Inc. There are the three Warner brothers, Arthur Loew, Nicholas Schenck, Sam Katz, and David Bernstein, of Loew's, Inc…. [Hollywood] swarms with refugees ... [and] British actors [as well as] directors ... from Russia, Hungary, Germany, and the Balkan countries….. susceptible to… national and racial emotions."
Meaning, of course, the men responsible for these films were Jews.
Literally before the day was out Nye had a resolution on the Senate floor demanding an investigation of Hollywood studios. In little over a month -- September 9, 1941 -- the liberal Democrat non-interventionist Senator Wheeler had ginned up that Senate investigation and it was opened for business. Harry Warner, one of the legendary Warner Brothers -- and yes, but of course, a Jew -- was dragged before a United States Senate subcommittee to explain himself. So too was the Jewish Nicholas Schenck of Loew's made to appear. And the great filmmaker Darryl Zanuck, then a vice-president at Twentieth Century Fox -- who was not Jewish. The witnesses against the three? That would include Senator Nye himself -- and John T. Flynn.
It was a headlining investigation that had as its unmistakable context an investigation into the Jewish influence in Hollywood. This, mind you, a full eight years after Hitler opened his first concentration camp at Dachau, the war already underway.
Fortunately, Americans increasingly aware of Hitler's lethal anti-Jewish obsessions, protested the hearing. The Republican New York Herald Tribune thundered at what it called an "inquisition." The Chicago Sentinel, an American Jewish newspaper, fingered the investigation for what it was. Senator Nye, said the angry Sentinel, was using "the tactics of the demagogue -- and the German demagogue at that." In the end, the investigation withered. By December Pearl Harbor had changed everything. (And, notably, Senator Taft never involved himself with this. Taft's friendship and support from the Ohio Jewish community was the stuff of Ohio political legend.)
What does this old history have to do with what might be called the dark side of the Paul campaign?
In his book The Revolution: A Manifesto, Congressman Paul includes at the end a section called "A Reading List for a Free and Prosperous America." And on that recommended reading list? Here's the entry, in full:
Flynn, John T. As We Go Marching. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1944. Flynn, an accomplished journalist, analyzes fascism in Italy and Germany and concludes by considering the state of America in his day.
That's right. Congressman Paul is recommending the writings of a man who, in his day, was seen as a driving force behind the anti-Semitic liberal Republican Senator Nye and the Senate investigation into Jewish influence in Hollywood.
Take a look at this CNN video, featuring Congressman Paul, Texas Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Ben Stein, the conservative Renaissance Man (actor, author, lawyer, economist who is, it should be noted, a senior editor of and regular contributor to The American Spectator):
The discussion, about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the so-called "Underwear bomber" accused of trying to blow up a plane over Detroit) quickly draws a charge of anti-Semitism from Stein, which causes Paul to erupt and demand an apology, which was not forthcoming.
Ben Stein (and it should perhaps be noted here that while we share writing chores at The American Spectator we have never met) has a reputation as not only a very smart man but a very good, kind, and decent man. For him to sit on a national TV show and suddenly blurt out the anti-Semitism charge would be decidedly out of character -- unless of course Stein, who is Jewish, is aware of the background noise out there that Paul has within his orbit those who arouse concern for anti-Semitism.
Stein is not alone. This issue of a connection between Paul or those around him and anti-Semitism has been hotly discussed by all manner of well-respected conservatives. From David Horowitz (here) to Commentary's John Podhoretz to Andrew Walden at The American Thinker to Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard to (in defense of Paul) National Review's John Derbyshire.
The too-cute-by-half cleverness in this current argument over the newest appearance of anti-Semitism as an anchor of Neoliberal philosophy is the use of the term "neoconservative" as a euphemism for "Jew."
This comes in part because those who identified themselves with the term early-on, conservative intellectuals like Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol and son Bill Kristol, were or are themselves Jewish. This was discussed at length back in 2003 by Georgetown Government Professor Robert Lieber. Lieber described the accusation that, in essence, "the Jews" -- aka the "neocons" (or "the Israel Lobby")-- are running American foreign policy as "pure myth."
There's no need to expand on the obvious. But suffice to say, when a Paul supporter like Newark Star Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine repeatedly zeroes in on conservative talk radio host Mark Levin, always dismissing the Jewish Mr. Levin as a neocon this or a neocon that, to these Protestant ears, fairly or unfairly Mulshine seems to be conjuring the ghosts of Ron Paul's favorite, John T. Flynn. Levin, for example, is targeted by Mulshine for "neocon nuttiness." The topic of Flynn's "Jews in Hollywood" speech written by Flynn and delivered by Gerald Nye that launched an anti-Jewish Senate witch hunt? "Our Madness Increases As Our Emergency Shrinks." And who caused that increasing madness? That's right: Jews. Jewish madness with Harry Warner and Darryl Zanuck yesterday, neocon nuttiness with Mark Levin today. The circle game goes round and round.
In historical fact, self-identified "neoconservatives" hold beliefs that are both straightforward and have nothing whatsoever to do with being Jewish.
The core of the neoconservative belief is the use of American economic and military strength to topple a foreign enemy in favor of a liberal democracy. One can agree or disagree -- but the concept is both an old one in American history and utterly un-related to either Jews or neocons. Washington had Canada invaded. He wasn't Jewish.
But anti-Semitism aside, perhaps the real key to understanding the decided left-leaning tendencies of neoliberals is their considerable dislike of… Conservatives.
You read that right.
Here are the views of various prominent Paul supporters about some conservatives you may be familiar with.
• Ronald Reagan: Here the late Paulist Murray Rothbard labels the conservative presidential icon as a "cretin," Reagan's two-terms in office described as "eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years."
• William F. Buckley, Jr.: The man who became the very gold standard of the American conservative movement is viewed as a "de facto totalitarian" here, again in another Rothbard selection from ex-Paul chief of staff Lew Rockwell's site, a site for which Paul himself has written.
• Antonin Scalia: Justice Scalia is not only no conservative in Paulville, he is -- sitting down? -- "a reliable supporter of presidential dictatorship, the police state, the torture-warfare state, and the empire." This gem was penned by ex-Paul chief of staff Rockwell himself.
• Sarah Palin: That's right. This business of Sarah Palin being a conservative, according to Rockwell, is just a ruse. In fact, Governor Palin is really a "double agent" for the "regime." From the same article as above. Oh yes… don't forget Governor Palin is quite possibly a "puppet" (as seen here by Jack Hunter, now the Paul campaign's "official blogger"). Oh, and Mr. Mulshine, the Paulist columnist? To him Palin is "just another whiny liberal claiming victimization."
• Edwin Meese: The former Reagan Attorney General beloved of conservative activists is described in Paulville as the "mouthpiece" for fascists.
• The Koch Brothers: The fascists for whom Ed Meese is the fascist mouthpiece? That would be the libertarian Koch brothers who, apparently, aren't libertarian at all in the eyes of Paulville. In Paulville, libertarian conservatives David and Charles Koch are said to be supporters of a "fascist regime." Same post as above. It is surely no coincidence that the Koch brothers were targeted earlier this year by the far-left hacking group Anonymous. As seen in this Politico story. Once again, the right/left neoliberal profile surfaces.
• Clarence Thomas: Dubbed part of a fascist "tag team" by Paul supporters. Why? Because Justice Thomas, along with fellow Justice Scalia, spoke at that gathering sponsored by those fascist Koch brothers. Where Ed Meese was covering as the mouthpiece for the fascists.
• Rush Limbaugh: Rush? Rush Limbaugh? That Rush Limbaugh isn't a conservative? Nope. Not in Paulville. In the eyes of Paulvillians the Rush Limbaugh so many millions of conservatives thought they knew and loved turns out to be a man with "Stalinist tendencies" -- aka a commie. Read all about it here.
• Sean Hannity: So OK, understanding that Sarah Palin is a double agent and a puppet and Rush is pulsing with Stalinist tendencies, surely Sean Hannity -- conservative talk show and TV host extraordinaire, author of the bestselling Conservative Victory -- surely Sean is a real conservative? Naaaaaaaaah. Not in Paulville. There our friend Sean is -- no kidding -- "evil" That's right. You read that right. Hannity is, quite seriously in the minds (?) of Paulville's neolibs, part of the "pantheon of warmongers that make up the true axis of evil."
Once that is understood, this video of Ron Paul supporters literally chasing Hannity through the streets of New Hampshire in 2008 can be seen for the leftist intimidation it was intended to be. The fact that the video of Paul supporters chasing Hannity so closely matches this video of Wisconsin leftists chasing and trapping a Wisconsin Republican legislator is a chilling reminder of the commonality of the protestors involved.
• Mark Levin: Come on. So he wrote the bestselling conservative manifesto Liberty and Tyranny.
So Michele Bachmann has called Levin an inspiration to the Tea Party. So Tea Party members were waving the book in the air at their rallies. So what? Levin's no conservative in Paulville. Levin's… you know… wink wink… one of them.
• The Cato Institute: The Cato Institute? The premiere libertarian think tank in America under attack in Paulville? No way! Yup. Here.
There's more -- much more than we have room for here. The Ron Paul campaign's "official blogger" Jack Hunter hates Lincoln but can't find his tongue with Confederate president Jefferson Davis suspending habeas corpus or 100% of the civil liberties of blacks -- aka slavery. Then there's Thomas J. DiLorenzo, whose arguments are recommended reading by Ron Paul. Here's Mr. DiLorenzo on Amazon.
The Ron Paul campaign is really about re-educating America to what can only be called Neoliberalism. Which, based on the evidence and writings of its supporters, appears to be a thin gruel of free markets and non-interventionism seasoned heavily with anti-Semitism, morally obtuse Neo-Confederates, and an outspoken contempt for both conservatism and conservative leaders past and present.
The hard to understand part is why Mr. Paul let's himself be associated with this shameful, shameful stuff.
It is not "The Language of Liberty" -- the title of a wonderful book containing the "Political Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln" and edited by Joseph Fornieri. Considering the vituperation directed by Paulists at Lincoln (and Reagan), it certainly would be appropriate to appreciate that Fornieri's book was published as a joint project of the conservative Regnery Publishers and Eagle Publishing.
That project? The Conservative Leadership Series.
Conservative leadership. A topic in which Neoliberals and various Paulites have shown no interest whatsoever as they set about trying to re-educate America.
Because of the obvious:
They simply aren't conservatives.