Something often overlooked in the Ron Paul newsletter story: the basic political cynicism that led to their publication in the first place.
There isn’t a whole lot of new information in the Washington Post’s latest story on the Paul newsletter scandal, but there is one fresh name attached to an on-the-record quote that could prove damning to Paul, who has said for years that he was totally unaware of the racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay language that filled his for-profit leaflets.
From the Post:
But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.
“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,” said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
In its digging, the Post doesn’t find any evidence that Paul actually believed the ugly stuff filling his newsletters. It’s suggested that something else may have driven them.
“A person involved in Paul’s businesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid criticizing a former employer, said Paul and his associates decided in the late 1980s to try to increase sales by making the newsletters more provocative,” the paper reports. “They discussed adding controversial material, including racial statements, to help the business, the person said.”
This is slightly different explanation than the one uncovered by Dave Weigel and the team at Reason back in 2008. Their reporting also found no evidence that Paul believed the stuff in his newsletters. But in their case, the story was that Paul was out to expand the libertarian base by going after the simmering white supremacist/militia/survivalist community.
Financial records from 1985 and 2001 show that Rockwell, Paul’s congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982, was a vice president of Ron Paul & Associates, the corporation that published the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Survival Report. The company was dissolved in 2001. During the period when the most incendiary items appeared—roughly 1989 to 1994—Rockwell and the prominent libertarian theorist Murray Rothbard championed an open strategy of exploiting racial and class resentment to build a coalition with populist “paleo-conservatives,” producing a flurry of articles and manifestos whose racially charged talking points and vocabulary mirrored the controversial Paul newsletters…
So, two big stories, two explanations, one theme: the incendiary and offensive language found in the Paul newsletters were inserted for cynical reasons.
Paul has denied having knowledge of what was in the newsletters on a number of occasions. His campaign denied the accounts of Hathway and others cited in the Post Friday. It seems clear at this point that the newsletters haven’t had a great effect on Paul’s core of support — people who like him just don’t think he’s racist.
But the explanation for why the offensive stuff was in those newsletters found in the Post and Reason — that it was some kind of ploy to squeeze support from the rubes on the newsletter subscription list — might give Paul supporters pause if it became known. Paul has made his name on being the non-politician and the honest man in the race. The Post and Reason’s reporting on the cynicism behind his newsletters challenges that reputation.