20 February 2008

A Kook?

Some claim that, if it weren't for Ron Paul's "kooky" ideas, they would find him attractive as a candidate. But his talk about the gold standard, the NAFTA Superhighway, the content of his newsletters, his foreign policy, etc. make him come off as a fringe candidate and conspiracy theorist. His opponents like to paint him thus by conflating some of his followers' ideas with his own; if you think he is a kook, more than likely you've listened to his detractors rather than read any of his arguments, which are actually articulate, intelligent, and not particularly strange.

For one, the NAFTA Superhighway is not a secret. CNN recently discussed the project here, openly stating that it is going to be built. I-69, which runs from Indiana to Canada, is a highway I've driven many times; Indiana has decided to extend I-69 to its southernmost border, and other states propose construction to connect the highway down through Texas to the Mexican Border (via the Trans-Texas Corridor). Although these are state initiatives, they would be approved and funded by the federal government. (Dr. Paul spoke with Lou Dobbs on CNN just last night on this issue.)

As to the gold standard, retired chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan has been one of the strongest advocates of the gold standard, linking it to property rights and economic freedom. Throughout his career, he has advocated a return to sound money and has offered practical advice on how to return to the gold standard. There is nothing particularly odd about the position, and no one has ever accused Greenspan of being a kook for holding it.

As to the bigoted content in a handful of newsletters that went out under his name, this has been rehashed for the past ten years, and Dr. Paul has already apologized for failing to exercise enough oversight over the content of his letters, written by hired writers while Dr. Paul was busy with a family, working as an Ob/Gyn, traveling, and authoring bills in Congress. He responded by firing those responsible, distancing himself from the writers, and exercising greater vigilance over his newsletters. It should also be noted that the controversy only involves a handful of letters out of hundreds issued over several decades.

I've discussed his foreign policy often on this website. It is probably the one thing that makes him most attractive to those tired of our policymakers' belief in their mandate-from-on-high to impose democracy by force upon peoples unwilling and unaccustomed to such, our good men and women dying in the process. The men in Washington can't seem to make up their minds; first we sell weapons to the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the hopes of engaging their help against our foes; then we criticize them for using those very weapons against their own people and against us. (Case in point: remember how the Bush administration excoriated Hussein for gassing his own people? No one ever thought to ask where he got that poisonous gas...) And then there's that canard that Islamofascists attack us because we are free, prosperous, and democratic; when Ayatollah Khomeini tried to raise support for jihad against America by using this same reasoning, he got absolutely nowhere. When bin Laden attempts jihad, he raises the issue of our occupation in the Middle East--and he gets recruits by the droves. But no, war hawks say, our foreign policy has nothing to do with Muslim radicals' hatred of us; to claim so would be unpatriotic. Though they may level the accusation against Ron Paul, they can't do that against our troops, who overwhelmingly support Paul over all the other candidates. (On a tangent, even Ann Coulter, as much of a neocon ideologue as one can find, concedes that Ron Paul is "very smart" and agrees with certain aspects of his foreign policy.)

It is time for opponents to stop making cheap shots by labeling him a "kook" and start seriously engaging his arguments.

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