Sunday, December 23, 2007

Everybody hates Ron Paul

At least all the partisans do.

It wasn't too surprising to see FOX news question Ron Paul's Republican credentials during the debates and later suggest he's taking orders from al Qaeda . Nor was it surprising to see any mention of him banned from the rightwing Redstate blog. Ron Paul is, after all, a staunch opponent of the Iraq war, of torture, of suspension of habeas corpus and expansion of presidential powers. In today's Republican party, that's pretty much heresy. The only thing that keeps John McCain out of the doghouse is his unwavering support for expanding the current war.

Ron Paul's supporters are regularly described as trolls, shills, Ronbots, and dysfunctional hacks who live in their mothers basements (regardless of the evidence that they exist in large numbers - and have jobs.)

It's more surprising to see the sheer vitriol leveled at Paul from the left. He and his supporters are generally regarded as a fringe extremists, and those are the nicer descriptions.

Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald took fire from the left after Andrew endorsed Paul for the Republican nomination and Glenn defended his record as a conservative defender of civil liberties:
In a speech last month, [Naomi] Wolf cited Paul's sponsorship of The American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007 -- which would restore habeas corpus, prohibit torture and rendition, bar warrantless surveillance, protect journalists from prosecution for reporting on classifed matters, outlaw the use of secret evidence, and compel Congress to sue to challenge the validity of signing statements -- as a measure necessary to "stabilize democracy long enough to take a breath."
Glenn was responding to Dana Goldstein's assault on Andrew. She claimed that Ron Paul's anti-abortion stance proved he was a hypocrite when it comes to civil liberties.
What is "freedom and toleration" without a woman's right to control her reproductive destiny? What is an "ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble" without the acknowledgment that unplanned pregnancy, and the havoc it brings, are features of human life that can not be eradicated? What candidate who stands against "Christian meddling" would strengthen the theocratic movement by allowing states, in the name of religion, to repeal women's rights over their own bodies? Sure, Paul's assessment of the Iraq war is correct. But his libertarianism is in name only when it comes to half of the population. That isn't so principled, and it isn't so exciting. Paul doesn't deserve the endorsement of any thinking person committed to individual rights.
But Paul doesn't become a hypocrite for failing to live up to a progressive caricature of libertarianism. He believes that human life starts at conception and to him arguing that a woman has a right to terminate a fetus is like arguing that a mother has the right to smother her newborn child. Disagreeing with Dana doesn't make him an unprincipled misogynist.

Greenwald's defense of Ron Paul earned him a rebuttal by Goldstein, in which she essentially claimed that Ron Paul's base was made up of little more than anti-semitic skinheads. Ezra Klein, Jeff Feck, and the Sideshow piled on, slamming Greenwald for his comments.

Here's Ezra's case against Paul:
[L]et's be clear: Paul wants to destroy the minimum wage, dissolve Medicare, end the Constitutional right to choice, prevent gay adoptions, preserve "Don't Ask/Don't Tell," undermine Social Security, dismantle public education, etc, etc.
Good point. You've just described the entire Republican field.

In fact all the attacks on Paul could easily be leveled at any of the Republicans running. Why Rudy Giuliani is typically described as a pro-choice social moderate after insisting that he'll nominate judges who'll abolish abortion rights is beyond me.

This goes double for Romney - declared by many of these same bloggers to be the least bad Republican despite his intention to push for constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and abortion and to wage war on Iran (not to mention his support for torture, suspension of civil liberties and his own regressive tax proposals). The belief apparently is that he couldn't possibly be serious.

Ron Paul is simply the only Republican in the race who agrees with progressives on anything. And for that he and his supporters are branded anti-semitic, misogynistic, racist wackos - by the very people who should be relieved that there are still some conservatives who believe in fundamental human rights.


Avedon said...

Why Rudy Giuliani is typically described as a pro-choice social moderate after insisting that he'll nominate judges who'll abolish abortion rights is beyond me.

Do note that it's not any of us who are doing that. We object to Paul for the same reason we object to the entire Republican field.

Paul is the right's Kucinich - up front about his positions and anti-war, with a small but passionate group of supporters. And neither is likely to win his party's nomination.

A number of people who support Obama and Edwards would be happier if their candidate sounded more like Kucinich; a lot are supporting Edwards or Obama as a viable second choice to Kucinich. This, I think, is where there's a difference with Paul's position in his party - it seems that non-Paul supporters absolutely hate him, and he's not regarded as preferable but unelectable as Kucinich is to progressives.

jinchi said...

I agree that no progressive should vote for Ron Paul. He is a self professed conservative Republican who would eliminate not only abortion, but the entire social safety network. Greenwald himself has made this point, repeatedly.

However, Ezra Klein in particular wrote several posts describing why Mitt Romney would be the best Republican for the job, despite Romney's stated intention to outlaw abortion via a constitutional amendment (something Ron Paul opposes).

How Ezra can make the case for Romney (who has no progressive views at all) and then scold Glenn for making the argument for Paul (who shares views with progressives on the war and rule of law) is something I can't understand.