Welcome to the front-runner fish bowl, Ron Paul.
In this bowl, all eyes are on a candidate, and past words, thoughts and deeds are fed back from an unceasing media machine that parses every utterance and wince.
Recently, Paul has gotten tripped up on some racist writings attributed to him 20 years ago that were published in newsletters bearing his name. Paul says he didn’t write or edit the words in the newsletters and that they do not reflect his views on race.
He not only looks unbelievable, since he didn’t put up a stink at the time about the asinine drivel being espoused in his name, but he looks just as brazenly avaricious as the bankers, traders and financiers he excoriates on a daily basis. The newsletters were a profitable business that fueled his congressional war chest, so it’s no wonder he closed his eyes and daydreamed away the bile.
It’s not only the “liberal” media ripping into Paul’s past. Just a few days ago, the National Review’s Rich Lowry, in an op-ed for the New York Post, tried to bury the Texas House Republican by asking if Paul could become “the first marginal, conspiracy-minded congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?” Wow.
Paul may be the most entertainingly embarrassing candidate to receive airtime since George Wallace in 1968. Like Wallace, Paul’s base consists of millions of disaffected voters who see Paul as their savior.
Apparently, many of his supporters are not offended by the file-cabinet load of ridiculous statements published in the Ron Paul Political Report. These include saying that 95 percent of black Washingtonians were criminally inclined, referring to Martin Luther King Jr. as a pedophile and the national holiday honoring him as “The Hate Whitey Day” and calling Congresswoman Barbara Jordan a “half-educated victimologist.”
His first inclination was to say that things had been taken out of context. In what context could any of this sound even remotely intelligent, factual and above reproach? Now Paul disavows the controversial comments and leaves the issue at that.
Yet, instead of taking this time to look like a leader and make a bold statement about race and classical libertarianism or even openly discussing why he foolishly overlooked the vitriol sprayed from his newsletters, Paul instead did the familiar tragic-comic wiggle of a wannabe front-runner in the fish bowl and hoped for the best.
In a way, of all the intellectually dishonest and villainous things written in the newsletter, I was particularly offended by his attack on Jordan. She was a champion debater at Texas Southern University, a graduate of Boston University School of Law and one of the most righteous, intelligent and heroic voices I can remember from the Watergate hearings.
For those who don’t know her or have forgotten her, I suggest going to YouTube, typing in her name and listening to how erudite and eloquent she was in a country still pulling away from its Jim Crow past.
Jordan acted and sounded like a leader. Paul isn’t even in the same league.
Fred McKissack is a former Progressive magazine editor and editorial writer who lives in Fort Wayne, Ind.