As Ron Paul rises in the polls, he is once again fending off questions about those pesky newsletters where racist material appeared under his name. This time around, rather than expressing much in the way of regret, Paul is instead slamming the media for rehashing what he considers an old, irrelevant story.
To recap, back in the 1990s, Ron Paul produced a series of newsletters, all with his name on them, which published a ream of racist and anti-Semitic columns. Among a long list of offensive comments, one notorious column about the LA riots said that, “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.” Another pilloried Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as “Hate Whitey Day.” Paul has always denied writing them and insists he doesn’t know who did. He has expressed regret that the comments were printed.
But asked about the newsletters in an interview with CNN Tuesday morning, Paul expressed little contrition and attacked the media for revisiting the issue. The candidate suggested that the only reason the newsletters were in the spotlight again is the popularity of the rest of his platform:
I think people dig these up when people think that, oh, his economic policies are winning. His foreign policies are winning and his monetary policies are winning. They have to dig these things up…
For two decades, Paul has denied knowing who wrote racist comments. Since Paul had six to eight people working under him on the newsletter, why couldn’t he have found out from them? “Possibly, I could,” Paul admitted Tuesday.
But he doesn’t seem to feel the need. “So, yes, it wasn’t good. I didn’t write them and those aren’t my beliefs. So, I sleep well,” the candidate said.
CNN isn’t the only one resurfacing the issue. James Kirchick, who delved into the newsletter archives — kept by a few universities under files of extreme right-wing political literature — and published on his findings in The New Republic in 2008 has another piece in the conservative Weekly Standard this monrth, writing that Paul still refuses to answer for what he printed. The Weekly Standard piece prompted the New York Times to revisit the issue as well.
Kirchick argues that this is precisely what the media should — but does not — focus on.
This sordid history would not bear repeating but for the fact that the media love to portray Paul as a truth-telling, antiwar Republican standing up to the “hawkish” conservative establishment. Otherwise, the newsletters, and Paul’s continued failure to name their author, would be mentioned in every story about him, and he would be relegated to the fringe where he belongs.
Kirchick has a point. The newsletters appear during every Paul campaign yet they always seem to remain a sideshow.