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Ron Paul: An Iowa Anti-Endorsement

And why he can’t be so neatly separated from the GOP field

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Rep. Ron Paul yesterday in Iowa.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As a Jew, I hope Rep. Ron Paul does not win today’s Iowa caucuses. This isn’t about policy differences, although certainly, say, the Republican Jewish Coalition found enough simply in Paul’s policies—his support for a more isolationist stance, including reducing aid to Israel, and his total lack of concern for Iran’s race to build nuclear weapons—to condemn him. It is the publication in the 1990s of newsletters, under his name and reportedly written by a close adviser, that trafficked in racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism (greatest hits here), combined with his refusal to treat this fact as something serious rather than a bugaboo trumped up by his enemies and the mainstream media, or to acknowledge that he was aware of the newsletters’ contents and defended them. It’s his rantings about the Trilateral Commission. It’s comparing Gaza to a concentration camp. You can make a case that President Obama is wrong on Israel, but you can’t in good faith argue that he is motivated by anti-Jewish animus. Ron Paul, by contrast, is not one of our friends.

Yet it is not unlikely that Paul will win the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses—he was the fairly clear frontrunner not two weeks ago, although he has since lost ground, so that overall frontrunner Mitt Romney is now considered the favorite. Which puts Jewish Republicans in a tricky position! To the long list of reasons why Jews typically don’t vote Republican could be added the fact that lots of Republicans do vote for this reactionary little man. In a year (happy new year, by the way!) when the Democratic standard-bearer may be especially vulnerable among Jews and the Republican standard-bearer, assuming it’s Romney, may be pretty appealing, the last thing the Republican establishment wants Jewish voters to do is associate the party with Paul.

Enter the argument that Paul is actually a liberal, or at least draws much of his support and enthusiasm from liberals. It’s not as ludicrous as it seems on its face (on its face, it’s completely ludicrous: the man has run for the Republican nomination, twice). A recent poll argued that Paul does derive much of his support from non-Republicans; his positions on the war on drugs and gay marriage are much more compassionate and sensible than those of his competitors, although I would ask people suckered by this to read what Paul’s newsletters had to say about inner-city blacks and homosexuals.

However, it is undeniable that Paul’s ideology is classic, pre-William F. Buckley conservatism, and that the single largest and most coherent voting bloc that is likely to support him is not leftists or radical independents or progressives but Tea Partiers. Indeed, the ultimate Tea Party politician is generally thought to be Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky—Ron Paul’s son, and a key supporter. And the Tea Party is fundamentally a Republican bloc. Rand Paul advocated ending aid to Israel, and nobody seriously suggests he’s not a true Republican. So this argument that Paul is properly understood as somehow un-Republican is sophism, ranging somewhere on the spectrum between disingenuous and dishonest.

The most troubling aspect of the Paul phenomenon is, in fact, that he could win the nomination: the winners of four of the past five competitive Iowa caucuses have gone on to be their parties’ nominees; Paul has a national organization, a lot of money, and a sophisticated strategy to accumulate delegates. No, I don’t think he’s going to win—it’s going to be Romney—but it’s foolish to dismiss the prospect outright, as virtually every professional prognosticator does.

But the secondarily troubling aspect of the Paul phenomenon, and the one that has already come to pass, is the specter of the mainstream, legitimate candidates—including Romney—saying they would support him over Obama. Leaving aside the Israel stuff, on which Obama happens to be more “Republican” than Paul (President Paul would not fund Iron Dome, to choose one example), this is appalling given the newsletters and the other stuff. At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin argues that Romney’s approach to Paul is no different from John Kerry’s approach to Al Sharpton or 1980s Jewish Democrats’ approach to Jesse Jackson. But Sharpton was never anything other than completely marginal; and as for Jackson, I have no idea where Tobin gets the idea that Jewish Democrats coddled him. No: Romney’s promise to vote for Paul over Obama is shockingly craven, and one way you know it is that Newt Gingrich—whose actual politics are arguably closer to Paul’s—has said he wouldn’t vote for Paul over Obama. Gingrich, you see, has less of a chance of winning than Romney and tends to be more candid on the stump.

Ron Kampeas asked the $64,000 question: “Are they”—Romney and Rick Santorum, who has put up an impressive showing in the Iowa polls over the past week, also said he’d support Paul over Obama—“nodding to what they see as a genuine pro-Paul GOP constituency?” The $64,000 answer is yes—the alternative is to believe that Romney is also a dangerous extremist. I don’t think he is, and I’m certain the RJC doesn’t.

Most of all, it’s disturbing that Tobin’s first instinct, mirroring that of the GOP, is to regress into partisan talking points (he says Democrats lack standing to attack Romney, as though this were an appeals court rather than the democratic process) rather than to engage with this problem. The Republican establishment’s and Republican Jewish establishment’s decision to brush Paul and the very real movement he represents off rather than to acknowledge it, own it, and deal with it makes Paul’s isolationist, xenophobic, hateful ideology that much more dangerous; it makes it likely that, just as the 2012 Paul has gained more traction than the 2008 Paul, the 2016 or 2020 Paul equivalent will be even bigger than 2012 Paul—a candidate who, afer all, may win today’s caucuses.

Related: Angry White Man [TNR]
Ron Paul’s Secret Plan to Actually Win [Buzzfeed]
The Ron Paul Jewish Question—What It Boils Down To [JTA Capital J]
Hypocritical Dems In No Position to Blast GOP Over Paul [Commentary Contentions]
Earlier: The Haunting of Ron Paul

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good try on the racism—good try on the Antisemitism—you all fail at every respect and nobody is listening to the negative press—it is quite hilarious to see you all scrambling—this makes Ron Paul more electable—the more you guys push the negative spin—the more people will learn the truth.–RON PAUL 2012!!

jennifer powers says:

is ron paul nothing more than a “good protest vote”?

Of course Ron Paul is antisemitic. But he is simply symptomatic of a reality in American political life today — antisemitism is acceptable again.

And it is the political left in this country that has made antisemitism okay again. I say this as a Democrat. I’m not happy about it, but it’s a reality that I can’t escape.

I disagreed with Bill Buckley on many levels, but he did an admirable job of chasing the Jew haters out of the conservative movement. He was not completely successful, but he deserves credit.

There is no equivalent to Buckley on the Left. Democrats and the Left have tolerated, promoted and protected their Jew haters. And if the Jew hatred can be dressed up as Israel hatred, all the better. (Look no further than Tracy’s constant defense of OWS for a recent example.)

So why should anybody be surprised that the Right is doing the same thing? The Left has already cleared the way and made a template. Paul is just following it.

regina winters says:

Ron Paul is a most flawed candidate…Leaving aside his foreign policy ideas which, anti-Israel as they are, are as threateningly anti other countries that need our help,he also appears to be anti-choice. This definitely puts his Libertarianism in question. People flock to him out of despair…over a huge,still growing government a mirror image national debt, plus exploding government meddling in private affairs and the free market.

ok so we can say isreal is anti american.
they do not give us foriegn aid. they don’t care if mexicans cross our border illegaly. they don’t help us stop them. they don’t strike at our enemies before we do.

please! aren’t we your friends israel? why did you not defend us against 9/11? we give you aid/weapons/tech/and info. wait thats right we got bandages from you awesome.

Hate is hate and people who back Ron Paul and those like him because they are not currently targets of his focused hate are sadly mistaken if they think they will always be immune. Haters hate any and all who are different from themselves. It’s not a matter of boundaries to the hate; it’s just a matter of time until it spreads to reach them because hate spreads until it is stopped. Once stopped, it does not go away, but has to be isolated & guarded like the lethal toxin it is.

hate will only be defeated by understanding.
understanding cannot be forced and will only come thru time and mutual benefit

and open commerce/cultural sharing

How can we keep letting Isreal suck off the Tax Payers Teats?? WE ARE BROKE! For every damn dollar we give you and others we have to BORROW 43 cents of it from CHINA! Does this make any sense at all? Well I guess if you were a Jew and got use to this welfare it will hurt a bit..but YOU GUYS ARE DOING BETTER THEN WE ARE!!! Your artical has just convinced me donate AGAIN to the Ron Paul Revolution! Thank You for doing that..God Bless Ron Paul and God Bless America.

Phil N says:

Considering that our current president was a follower of Jeremiah Wright for twenty years until he realized it might cost him votes and considering he has done little more than give lip service in opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, Ron Paul could not possibly be worse than Obama. The reason for his support, he is the candidate that best addresses the economic problems this country is facing, including an overpaid, over privileged bureaucracy that is sucking this country dry at all levels of government.

Those who vigorously support Paul (and I am not in that camp) like him because he hates war I am reliably told.

unnessesary war. he did vote to go after al qeida on 9/11.

stovepipe johnson says:

dotn worry my friend, when i vote that means i cancel your out.

Jules says:

Yes, into Afghanistan, not into drops in to the exhilarating suck action of Iraq which turned into an overflowing toilet and nutty “nation building” misadventures that nine years later leaves our country in economic crisis and Iraq more shaky and unstable than it was in the first place.

For Zlota says:

We justifiably complain about the politicians; but if talkbacks in any way represent “we the people’, that might explain what’s wrong with the politicians….. (then again, the Internet isn’t necessarily American.)

Peter W. says:

Here is Walter Block, Jew, and Economics Professor, and long-time friend of Ron Paul explaining why he supports Ron Paul:

Paul Baron says:

As a fellow Jew, I love Ron Paul (and not just cos he has a KILLER last name) you are clearly mis-informed, it’s a bummer that you haven’t dug deep enough past the main-stream media BS.

Bill Pearlman says:

The I don’t hate Jews just Israel bullshit is getting a little old.

I seem to remember Reverend Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson and Reverend “Burn the Jews out” Sharpton ran as Democrat candidates for president within the last few cycles. As odious as Ron Paul is, nothing tops a pogromist with blood on his hands like Al Sharpton. Yet Democrats kiss Sharpton’s large posterior and he is a media personality. Republicans and conservatives are denouncing Paul. Where are the Democrats denouncing Sharpton and Jackson. Given that the so many Jews voted for Rashid Khalidis friend, and member of an antisemitic leftist church, we would have to wait a long time. And it is also clear that many Jews still think this is 1930 and can’t wrap their heads around the reality that FDR ensured that Jews could not come to America and that his NRA banned shechita.

Beatrix says:

Ron Paul, like another undersized male, Napoleon, turned to politics for power after apparently having problems as a doctor with brighter and more successful Jewish doctors.

Paul insists on small government because it’s easier to control, and all the power he amasses he’ll share with his vocally antisemitic followers.

The only way Paul’s system could work would be by aligning our government with evil regimes so they won’t hurt us since he’s going to limit both arms and allies who might help defend us.

He won’t return in 2016, when he’s 80 or 2020 when he’s 84.. He’s already installed his son in a position where he can continue the Paul dynasty.

Beatrix says:

Hey Rik:
Israel bombed the bejabbers out of Hussein so he didn’t have nuclear bombs to use against American soldiers. And Israel unwittingly did the Syrian demonstrators a favor by ridding Assad of his nuclear weapons. Not that anyone will thank them.

Israeli intelligence is probably the only accurate insight America gets into what Arab leaders are thinking and planning (she did not agree with our stance on Iraq) and Israeli scientific knowledge has developed modern weapons like the drone that saves American lives. Now you want a small country like Israel to come here to fight our battles for us, too?

Despite Paul’s nonsense, America has never fought for Israel. Never. We give them money for weapons, ¾ of which has to be spent in America, which helps our economy,

And Han(s), “we guys” are American not Israeli. We even have American names, not German. Israel is our heritage; America is our home. Israel is the most loyal and useful ally America has, and as the Mideast becomes even more important, Israel will be even more significant.

America is in debt. We’re not broke. Of course we’ve been in debt since 1836, but we’re having trouble paying our bills now, and I don’t think we’re going to solve our problems without raising taxes.

Improving our system is one thing, but trying to change our system in order to avoid taxes is ridiculous.

justicegirl says:

Beatrix tells it like it is…

salemst says:

I’m a Jewish Romney supporter. Marc, Ron Paul isn’t winning the nomination. He’s a Libertarian which means government size/spending at 1787 levels, “anything goes” unrestrained personal freedom putting him to the cultural Left of Democrats, weak defense/isolationist/cut and run wanting to cut the defense budget in half in his “Ostrich” defense approach. Is he anti-Semitic? Don’t know for sure, except he’s utopian and idealistically nutty.

But Marc, you have Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Obama, Occupy Wall Street, Ivory Towerite effete intellectuals, and others on your side who all loathe Israel.

Mitt Romney will be the next president, and a great friend to Israel. Stop worrying about Ron Paul. Country isn’t ready for cultural radicalism, non existent military, and a 4 person Federal Government quite yet.

Barry Willig says:

Ron Paul is a German-American anti-semite who grew up while the Bund maintained Camp Nordland for young German-Americans. His hatred of Jewish doctors stems from competition with them and getting shifts at the hospital he did not like as a family man, blaming it on preferential treatment for Jewish doctors, in his mind. Any mention of Israel or adi to Israel gets a grimace the likes of 2nd or 3rd generation German=Americans influenced by Lindbergh’s Americ First isolationism, which was blatantly anti-semitic. Dr. Ron Paul shrugs at the Holocaust and the present-day threat to Israel posed by Iran.

Ron Paul hates Jews, Israel and mention of the holocaust. His wished for Bund has perished and so will his political dreams this year. His gaunt look when faced with the issue of Israel probably translates to “Juden” in his German-American mind.


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Ron Paul: An Iowa Anti-Endorsement

And why he can’t be so neatly separated from the GOP field

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