Dave Weigel is right when he says that “dismissal’s the correct response to an article that claims a Murray Rothbard devotee refuses to speak to Jews.” I refrained from diving into the absurd argument over the particulars of the charge (I did link to Alex Massie’s response), because dismissing and ignoring it was the best approach. However, it has reached such a point that I thought I would say a few things.
Remarkably, I even agree with Jonah Goldberg:
And I agree with you [addressed to Derbyshire], the biggest takeaway from the American Thinker piece is that Paul’s shop needs to get professional. I do think that Paul — if he is the real deal — has a special obligation to draw bright lines between himself and a lot of the fringe-folks who are flocking to him.
Paul does draw these lines whenever he speaks, simply by stating what it is that he does believe. Even so, if it would put to rest this nonsense it might be worth doing. Of course, it is insulting that Paul should have to re-state what must seem to him (and the overwhelming majority of his supporters) to be the blindingly obvious: for him, as for us, racial hatred is abhorrent, all violent, coercive statist ideologies are abhorrent, neo-Nazis are equal parts ridiculous, pathetic and hideous, and so on. The overwhelming majority of his supporters–conservative, libertarian, moderate and liberal–have nothing to do with these ideas.
It was insulting and absurd when some people said that Romney was trying to send a message in “code” to anti-Semites everywhere by announcing his campaign from the Ford Museum. That stupid controversy fortunately died a pretty quick death. I hope that this one ends this week, today, because it is absurd and based on the insane standard that the allegedly no-hope protest candidate must scrutinise the ideological beliefs of all his individual donors and actively denounce genuinely lunatic websites who happen to be saying positive things about him, as if their lunatic comments had anything to do with the man or his campaign when they clearly do not. This is a standard, of course, that is not actually applied to any other campaign. Who knows what you might find if you went rummaging through the donations to other candidates? If Obama received donations from a Nation of Islam member, would that be treated as a scandal or an irrelevance? Anyone who treated it as a scandal would be a fool. Maybe there are some objectionable characters who have donated to Giuliani–in the end, so what? Unless we’re talking about the buying of access or favours, which is clearly not at stake here, the relevant subject should be the candidate and his own positions. There are plenty of bloggers, particularly those on the left, who like to complain about “the Freak Show” and the media’s obsession with trivia, as well they should, but everyone should recognise that this is just another part of that obsession.
Let’s be very clear: Paul is being attacked in this case not because of anything he has actually done or said, but because of what other people say while misusing his name as a symbol for their own purposes and because of who those people are. There are other candidates out there today who are open to “pre-emptively” nuking other countries, seem indifferent to the state’s use of torture and cheer on aggressive war, but when they themselves actually espouse these horrible ideas it is deemed a “policy” difference and therefore permissible on national television. Ron Paul gets a check from some fanatic, and suddenly you’d think the world is coming to an end. There is an incredible imbalance here.
One of the reasons we, the vast, reasonable majority of Paul supporters, support Paul is that he vehemently, publicly, repeatedly rejects the assumptions on which all of these ideologies are founded. Obviously. It shouldn’t have to be said, but now it’s been said. You can now resume thinking about things that matter. Goodness knows I’ve already wasted too many words and too much time on this trash.
On another campaign with a heavy dose of idealism and amateurism, here is Dan McCarthy on Barry Goldwater and his legacy:
To answer that question, one has to look to the sharpest division that split the Goldwater movement of the ’60s. It wasn’t the division between libertarians and traditionalists, it was the division that separated idealistic libertarians and traditionalists alike, the campaign amateurs, from the campaign professionals. The conservative movement still pays lip service to economic liberty, social order, and military strength—but on all three points, Republicans have become hollow men who have preserved the rites of Goldwaterism but who long ago lost its spirit. That was an amateur spirit—in both the best and worst senses of the word—and it drew together in common cause traditionalists and libertarians as different as Brent Bozell and Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess.
It is indeed this same kind of idealistic amateurism–and I mean that phrase as a compliment–that you see in the Paul campaign, but the price of that amateurism is that the campaign does not, perhaps cannot, engage in the kind of rapid-fire response press handling and spinning that we have come to expect from the other consultant-bloated campaigns. Certainly, this is a technical liability, but it is a perfect example of what has been until very, very recently a shoe-string operation that has inspired its supporters partly through its very modesty.