Why They Can't Quit Ron Paul

Weigel
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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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.

Advertisement

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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 4:03 PM You’re Doing It Wrong: Puttanesca Sauce
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.