Ron Paul's campaign in 2008 was an anomaly, a strange organism that had nothing much to do with the presidential race. He didn't attack candidates, specifically; he only got into spats when other candidates, like Rudy Giuliani, wanted to score some points off of his America First-er foreign policy in debates.
This year is different. This morning Paul releases, and gets big pick-up for, an ad attacking Rick Perry's long-renounced 1988 support for Al Gore.
This year is really different. Team Perry fires back at Paul with a statement and the return of the 1987 "I'm leaving the GOP" letter Paul wrote before starting his 1988 Libertarian campaign for president. The Reagan-bashing parts:
President Reagan, as governor of California, had a line-item veto and virtually never used it. As President he has failed to exercise his constitutional responsibility to veto spending. Instead, he has encouraged it.
Monetary policy has been disastrous as well. The five Reagan appointees to the Federal Reserve Board have advocated even faster monetary inflation than Chairman Volcker, and this is the fourth straight year of double-digit increases. The chickens have yet to come home to roost, but they will, and America will suffer from a Reaganomics that is nothing but warmed-over Keynesianism.
Candidate Reagan in 1980 correctly opposed draft registration. Yet when he had the chance to abolish it, he reneged, as he did on his pledge to abolish the Departments of Education and Energy, or to work against abortion.
Under the guise of attacking drug use and money laundering, the Republican Administration has systematically attacked personal and financial privacy. The effect has been to victimize innocent Americans who wish to conduct their private lives without government snooping. (Should people really be put on a suspected drug dealer list because they transfer $3,000 at one time?) Reagan's urine testing of Americans without probable cause is a clear violation of our civil liberties, as are his proposals for extensive "lie detector" tests.
Under Reagan, the IRS has grown bigger, richer, more powerful, and more arrogant. In the words of the founders of our country, our government has "sent hither swarms" of tax gatherers "to harass our people and eat out their substance." His officers jailed the innocent George Hansen, with the President refusing to pardon a great American whose only crime was to defend the Constitution. Reagan's new tax "reform" gives even more power to the IRS. Far from making taxes fairer or simpler, it deceitfully raises more revenue for the government to waste.
Knowing this administration's record, I wasn't surprised by its Libyan disinformation campaign, Israeli-Iranian arms-for-hostages swap, or illegal funding of the Contras. All this has contributed to my disenchantment with the Republican Party, and helped me make up my mind.
Some of this -- monetary policy, IRS -- is Republican dogma. The Tea Party has denounced Bush and all his works, and it leads with the presumption that all Republicans have been getting stuff wrong. Paul's been riding easy on that 1976 Reagan endorsement, because literally no opponent has attacked him on this account for 15 years. No one's cared enough to! But at the debate at the Reagan library, which we're 29 hours away from, if he's asked about this, I expect that Paul stands by it 100 percent. (He shouldn't stand by the Volcker stuff. Inflation? Volcker?)
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.