Why They Can't Quit Ron Paul

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 22 2011 2:48 PM

Why They Can't Quit Ron Paul

Steve Clemons titles a post "Ron Paul's In-Our-Face Foreign Policy Ad." He writes: "Ron Paul offers a stinging critique of US foreign policy in this provocative campaign ad that should win some sort of prize for making a serious policy point with more than a talking head."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Two problems with this. 1) It's not a Ron Paul campaign ad, but a product of "The Revolution PAC," put online 18 days ago. 2) It isn't running on TV.


But that doesn't mean it's uninteresting. What is Revolution PAC? It's a project of some of Paul's savviest allies, who have been putting out aggressive pro-Paul material all year. On the advisory board: Paul collaborater Tom Woods, and the directors of a flashy documentary about the 2008 Paul campaign called "For Liberty." You can see their handiwork all over the latest PAC video.

This brings us to Jamie Kirchick's latest follow-up on his Paul reporting -- an essay in TNR, asking libertarians why they keep defending Paul. "A constant theme in Paul’s rhetoric, dating back to his first years as a congressman in the late 1970s, is that the United States is on the edge of a precipice," he writes. "The centerpiece of this argument is that the abandonment of the gold standard has put the United States on the path to financial collapse. Over the years, Paul has added other potential catastrophes to his repertoire of dark premonitions. In the early 1990s, it was racial apocalypse, with Paul dispensing “survivalist” tips to the readers of his newsletter like the admonition to stock up on guns and construct fall-out shelters. More recently, he has argued that America’s foreign policy was a “major contributing factor” to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, an argument that has earned him admiration from some liberals. The 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration’s continuation of many Bush anti-terror policies (and the launching of the Libya War), and the formation of the Tea Party have all boosted Paul’s image as a prescient sage."

That's just it, though. When there were no crises, Paul was obscure, and his predictions sounded like so much crankery. The crises of 2001 onward have convinced a substantial number of people that they live in a fundamentally flawed and crooked system propped up by liars. The Oscar-winning documentary about the 2008 financial crisis is titled Inside Job. That's a common term; it's also the the term that 9/11 conspiracy theorists use to describe what they think happened that day. Paul reminds me of Jude Law's character in this year's movie Contagion -- because he was talking about this stuff years ago, his followers are willing to look past all of his flaws and botched predictions. They don't matter. He was laughed at -- they were laughed at -- and he was right. If the "media takes down" Ron Paul, who's out there explaining their worldview with the credibility that comes from getting there first? Nobody. So they can't quit him, and won't.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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