Why have the media for the most part been so reluctant to expose the long documented fringe positions – including a clear and deep animus toward Israel – articulated by Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul?
Why have journalists whose greatest pleasure consists of waxing indignant over any misstep or misstatement, real or perceived, by Republican politicians not been particularly eager to examine the racially charged statements – example: “Order was only restored in L.A. [following the Rodney King-inspired riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks” – usually written in the first person in newsletters bearing Paul’s name in the 1980s and 1990s? (He now says he did not edit those publications and has claimed “moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”)
One theory is that many reporters kind of like the idea of having Paul around as a stick with which to hit the other Republican candidates, all of whom differ with Paul on most major issues. There has been a tendency to portray Paul as something of a principled eccentric, a wizened cracker barrel philosopher unafraid of bucking GOP orthodoxy, hence the disinclination to discredit him, either at present or when he ran for president four years ago.
When Paul mounted a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, James Kirchick wrote a disturbing expose of the man and his views for The New Republic. As Kirchick noted, there were those in the media who were all too eager to make a case for Paul’s alleged down-home integrity, all too often without bothering to mention any of his far from mainstream views.
(The conservative writer Christopher Caldwell described Paul as a “formidable stander on constitutional principle” while ABC’s Jake Tapper called him “the one true straight-talker in this race.”)
Kirchick’s article made something of a ripple among political junkies but really didn’t have much of an impact on the wider public; besides, outside of his relatively small but extremely devoted following, Paul in 2008 was never taken seriously as a candidate.
Four years later, with a wildly fragmented party and a collection of mostly unimpressive presidential wannabes, none of whom has failed to spark more than a passing infatuation among the GOP rank and file, Paul finds himself counted among the top tier of candidates in some of the early primary states.
However, writes Kirchick in a follow-up piece on Paul in the current issue of The Weekly Standard, not much has changed when it comes to Paul’s seeming embrace of conspiracy scenarios or his disdain for Israel:
Paul has gone right on appearing regularly on the radio program of Alex Jones, the most popular conspiracy theorist in America (unless that distinction belongs to Paul himself). To understand Jones’s paranoid worldview, it helps to watch a recent documentary he produced, Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement, which reveals the secret plot of George Pataki, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix, among other luminaries, to exterminate humanity and transform themselves into “superhuman” computer hybrids able to “travel throughout the cosmos.”
….In a March 2009 interview, Paul entertained Jones’s claim that NORTHCOM, the U.S. military’s combatant command for North America, is “taking over” the country. “The average member of Congress probably isn’t a participant in the grand conspiracy,” Paul reassured the fevered host, essentially acknowledging that such a conspiracy exists….
Likewise, Paul’s insistence that America should be a “friend” of Israel is belied by public statements like one from a November 22 GOP debate: “Why do we have this automatic commitment that we’re going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?”
Eric Dondero, a former Paul congessional and campaign aide, insists that Paul is not anti-Semitic, but acknowledges that he “is, however, most certainly anti-Israel.” In a widely circulated blog post this week, Dondero writes that Paul “wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations…. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state….”