Michael Gerson Has Ron Paul’s Number

Michael Gerson takes on Ron Paul’s bid for the GOP nomination, and he rightly exposes Paul’s libertarian record for what it is. Gerson writes:

No other recent candidate hailing from the party of Lincoln has accused Abraham Lincoln of causing a “senseless” war and ruling with an “iron fist.” Or regarded Ronald Reagan’s presidency a “dramatic failure.” Or proposed the legalization of prostitution and heroin use. Or called America the most “aggressive, extended and expansionist” empire in world history. Or promised to abolish the CIA, depart NATO and withdraw military protection from South Korea. Or blamed terrorism on American militarism, since “they’re terrorists because we’re occupiers.” Or accused the American government of a Sept. 11 “coverup” and called for an investigation headed by Dennis Kucinich. Or described the killing of Osama bin Laden as “absolutely not necessary.” Or affirmed that he would not have sent American troops to Europe to end the Holocaust. Or excused Iranian nuclear ambitions as “natural,” while dismissing evidence of those ambitions as “war propaganda.” Or published a newsletter stating that the 1993 World Trade Center attack might have been “a setup by the Israeli Mossad,” and defending former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and criticizing the “evil of forced integration.”

Each of these is a disqualifying scandal. Taken together, a kind of grandeur creeps in. The ambition of Paul and his supporters is breathtaking. They wish to erase 158 years of Republican Party history in a single political season, substituting a platform that is isolationist, libertarian, conspiratorial and tinged with racism. It won’t happen. But some conservatives seem paradoxically drawn to the radicalism of Paul’s project. They prefer their poison pill covered in glass and washed down with battery acid. It proves their ideological manhood.

Gerson argues that the federal government does have a role to play in protecting civil rights.

Government can be an enemy of liberty. But the achievement of a free society can also be the result of government action — the protection of individual liberty against corrupt state governments or corrupt business practices or corrupt local laws. In 1957, President Eisenhower sent 1,000 Army paratroopers to Arkansas to forcibly integrate Central High School in Little Rock. This reduced Gov. Orval Faubus’s freedom. It increased the liberty of Carlotta Walls LaNier, who was spat upon while trying to attend school. A choice between freedoms was necessary — and it was not a hard one.

Paul’s conception of liberty is not the same as Lincoln’s — which is not a condemnation of Lincoln. Paul’s view would have freed African Americans from the statism of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Act. It would have freed the occupants of concentration camps from their dependency on liberating armies. And it would free the Republican Party from any claim to conscience or power.

Read the rest here.


  • donsands

    The one thing I like about Paul is that he wants to stop spending America into Bankruptcy. He’s the only one who will not spend more money. The rest of the Lincoln Par-tiers will spend and it will be as bad as Obama and Bush. Ron has integrity. I may disagree with him to a point, and yet most people who criticize him simply take sound bites of what he is saying, and make it seem like he is looney. But he’s honest, and tries to speak the truth. He’s a good man in my opinion.
    Our nation is $15,000,000,000,000.00 in debt, and we need someone who really cares, and will turn this around. I wish we had a man, or woman, who would have the integrity to do so.

  • Paul

    How can Ron Paul be seen as anything other than the logical endpoint of right wing politics? You can try all you want, but if there’s a reason why all of the Republican candidates seem completely crazy is because there’s a massive cognitive dissonance going on in their worldview: you can’t be laissez-faire where it makes corporate donors happy and big brother where it makes religious donors happy. Ron Paul may be many things, and the vast majority of them bad. But he’s the least crazy candidate you’ve got.

    • kevin s.


      You declare Ron Paul is the logical endpoint of right-wing politics, then go on to argue he is a poor fit with right wing politics.

      Conservatives argue a fundamental civil ethos is necessary in order to maintain limited government. As such, as it is across the political spectrum, certain compromises are necessary.

      The abortion issue is one area where we see this compromise. Personal autonomy is desirable, but cannot exist if we cannot place an inherent value on human life.

      The Republican candidates don’t seem crazy to me or to most conservatives. Ron Paul doesn’t seem crazy to me. His voting record and public statements do not suggest to me he quite knows what he is doing.

      For example, he voted against a bill that would forbid the transport of minors across state lines for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. He claims to oppose abortion, so what gives? If you are an ardent supporter of states’ rights, transporting minors for the purpose of committing what one state would consider a crime certainly flouts state powers.

      That certainly isn’t a logical extension of anything conservatives have fought for.

  • yankeegospelgirl

    I don’t understand why there’s such a huge focus on the race aspect of what Paul is saying when I think virtually everything else in that list is far crazier. I’m WAY more concerned about the fact that he appears to be on planet Mars when it comes to foreign policy and appears bent on swallowing every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.

    • Christiane

      gosh, I’d be more worried if there wasn’t a big fuss about the racial stuff . . . a very big fuss, widespread throughout the Republican Party, the media, and the general population . . . this is 2012, for those of us who lived through the days of Martin Luther King and people like Rosa Parks, we REMEMBER what it was really like

      we remember and we tell what we saw. . . lest it be forgotten

  • Steve

    Gerson just comes out with more Neocon drivel. Let’s take a close look at Big-Government solutions to the problems: War on Poverty. There’s as many tent cities and unemployed today as there were in the Depression. War on Drugs. Need I really talk about this one as drugs are rampant and highly profitable for the exact people this war was started against? War on Terror? We’ve lost more liberties and more people hate us today than before 9/11. Way to go big government. A real winning streak here. How about the future, like Michelle O’s war on childhood obesity? There’s another loser. Maybe Social Security is going to save the elderly. It’s running in the red and will go bankrupt before I can collect in another 12 years. Medicare? Major bankrupt system. Yep, the Nanny State is really racking up the wins! Education? Scores are lower, costs way too much, and supplies a dumbed-down, non-critical thinking population. EPA? Once it was really needed, but now it is just a hindrance to job creation through excessive regulation. DOE? Useless! The NRC does a pretty good job without them. Why have two agencies hindering each other for the same outcome? TSA/homeland Security? Have they ever caught a terrorist? Or has it been the passengers on the planes?
    Really, maybe we need someone like Ron Paul who calls it like it is.

  • Marty Duren

    I fear your anti-Libertarianism streak has caused you miss what RP said in that video at the PHX airport. I listened twice, and he’s clearly saying that government investigations are typically useless because they “cover-up” information that makes them look bad. The example he gave was an FBI agent who warned 75 times of a pilot who wanted to learn how to fly but not land a plane. He is not speaking of the government of the United States trying to cover up some shadow role in the 9/11 attacks.

    Gershon can rail all he wants over a mythical what Paul would have done about slavery or the civil rights movement. The facts are that institutional racism still exists in our judicial process, and our prisons-for-profit system. Republicans are equally as guilty for this travesty as Democrats, and Paul is the only candidate I have seen who addresses any of it.

    For the record, I’m not a Libertarian, but I will vote for Ron Paul.

      • Marty Duren

        It is what it is. It seems pretty well established that minorities receive harsher sentences for the same crimes than whites. It could be carried farther to include “legacy” discounts at universities that favor families with multiple generations in the same school, which necessarily excludes the benefit from kids without the legacy. Those exclusions trend toward minorities.

        So, yeah, I guess I did.

          • Paul

            yawn. I know too many solidly middle class blacks and latinos that still have to deal with old white women giving them weird looks when they walk down the street. Yes, racism still exists, and the more that conservative white folk keep playing the victim, the more it will continue to exist.

          • yankeegospelgirl

            LOL. You know, people like you are just hilarious. You still want to pretend that the average conservative on the street still harbors anti-black racism in his heart, and the Christian right isn’t beating its breast loudly enough over this.

            News-flash: You’re stuck in the 1950s. Just look around you. How many average conservatives do you know who seriously are viciously racist in that way? I’m not denying that you can find vitriolic anti-black racism, I’m just saying you ain’t gonna find it in the mainstream Christian right.

          • yankeegospelgirl

            No, of course there’s no malicious “skewing” going on. But you wouldn’t know that to hear the left blabber on.

            We need a society where people are just willing to let the chips fall where they may instead of meaninglessly tossing around the word “racism.”

  • Paul

    Vicious racism isn’t the scary kind, YGG. The kind that makes Chicago, to this day, the most segregated city in America is the scary kind, and that’s all over the place. And to deny that and play the victim is far more hilarious than anything I can come up with. And I’m told I’m a pretty funny guy.

      • yankeegospelgirl

        As far as the integration issue is concerned, just read the Wikipedia article on Carlotta, and think about the fact that it says the National Guard was stationed there for a semester, but couldn’t stop acts of violence inside the school. So the other kids continued to spit on her unhindered.

        In other words, Carlotta was used by the federal government as a political pawn to make a political statement. Was it in her own best interests to attend that school? I submit that it was not. I certainly wouldn’t send my child to a school where she would be relentlessly bullied and teased. But no, they had to defend her right to attend a school where she would be bullied and teased. At what cost? You’ll forgive me, but this angers me. And it angers me to think of a person I know of who bragged that his white sisters were forced to attend a formerly black school, because of their father’s desire to support integration. They were mercilessly beaten up by the black girls, but their father didn’t care. He was making a statement, don’t you know? The safety and well-being of his daughters took a back seat as far as he was concerned.

  • Modo

    I have been keeping up with the Republican primaries thus far, but am losing interest more and more each day. At the end of the day, both liberals and even so-called right wing conservatives still make exceptions for abortion (i.e. rape and incest among others) and I have no idea why we can in good conscience vote for anyone that allows the continuation of an American holocaust, the slaughter of 1 million unborn children per year. I don’t think I’ll vote at all this year, there are NO more pro-life politicians. They all disgust me!

    • kevin s.

      Well, if you can enact a palatable abortion policy that forbids 98% of abortions, I think that is a very pro-life thing to do. Take away rape and incest, and public support for legal abortion goes down dramatically.

      • yankeegospelgirl

        I think people need to draw a distinction between supporting anti-abortion laws that would be an improvement on the current state of affairs but contain “the three exceptions…” or asserting as a matter of principle that any such law SHOULD contain said exceptions.

        I am not necessarily against the former, but I believe the latter is wrong.

    • Paula

      I think you need to keep up a little closer. There are several GOP candidates who have strong pro-life legislative records. Not talk – RECORDS. Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry all are against abortion in the cases of rape and incest. Gingrich is as well, though his record on abortion finding and stem cell research are troubling. Santorum introduced and pushed through legislation to end partial birth abortion and has a consistent pro-life voting record. Perry has passed several pro-life measures as governor of Texas, including parental consent and de-funding Planned Parenthood, which has resulted in abortion clinics in the state shutting down.

      Not all candidates are created equal. And they’re certainly all better than Obama, who has radical views and policies toward the helpless unborn. And Ron Paul’s policy of leaving it to the states is inconsistent with our Founding Documents’ guarantee of a right to life.

      • yankeegospelgirl

        Well, I should interject here that even straight-up murder isn’t illegal on a federal level. So even if we should (rightly) assign abortion the same status as murder, technically it WOULD be legislated on a state level.

        Frankly, I’m quite content for murder to be in the hands of the states, because I shudder to think how horribly inefficient the federal government would be instead. We’d never catch any murderers!

  • John

    You should honestly leave this alone. You’re only perpetuating the reality that most evangelicals are absolutely blind when it comes to fiscal and foreign policy. Wake up.

    And for the billionth time, Ron Paul is not an isolationist. Do you even know what that means?

    • yankeegospelgirl

      Ron Paul is a sensible economist, but he is not a true social conservative (witness his negative remarks about candidates who oppose the gay agenda, which I’m amazed didn’t make Gerson’s laundry list), and, I’m sorry, he’s a fool when it comes to foreign policy.

    • kevin s.

      Ron Paul is an ignorant, demagogic mess on foreign policy. So yeah, it’s probably not fair to call him an isolationist. I’m not sure he knows what it means.

  • ndefalco

    Dennis, you’re hilarious. If Ron Paul gets the nod, you’ll vote for him. Either because you are die-hard vote-Repub-down-the-line no matter what or because you’ll vote for the anybody-but-Obama candidate.

    Ron Paul probably won’t get the nod, because too many in the establishment are afraid of him and will make up literally half-truths like ALL of the ones listed above.

    So, who are you going to vote for? The adulterer? The Mormon? GWB Junior (I mean Rick Perry)? Santorum/Bachmann? (combined them because there is virtually no difference in their platform).

  • mark

    Its actually quite humorous to see prople flailing to criticize Ron Paul right now… grasping… Mainstream Republicans righfully dislike Obama… but they are like him in a lot of ways. And they dislike liberty more than they dislike Obama.

    Its nice to see the GOP people loving their own…

    By the way. …President Eisenhower also encouraged Jihad as a political stategy in foreign policy. So I wouldnt hold him up as a model. I presume all the GOP critics of Paul dont like Jihad….

    • yankeegospelgirl

      There are certain ways in which I admire Ron Paul. I admire his stand on economics. I admire his courage to say unpopular things about the need for more limited government. I support him in those areas. But if you just listen to him talk for a while about some of these other issues, you sadly must draw the conclusion that he is a) a loon and b) someone who won’t take a stand on everyone we as the Christian right hold near and dear.

  • mark

    I believe the GOP is going to lose to Obama and a big part of it is their fault. They could critique Obamas unconstitutional foreign policy… instead the effectively trip overr each other to say they will do the same but more vigorously.

    Only Ron Paul isnt drooling over Obamas wars and wishing to continue them..

  • donsands

    “…you sadly must draw the conclusion that he is a) a loon and b) someone who won’t take a stand”-ygg

    I don’t think he is a loon. Nor is his son, Rand Paul; who I would love to see run for President in 4 more years.

    The problem with his platform on Defense is? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATmUE8TCmjE

    And, have you read Paul’s statement on Defense? It’s a very good one.

    • yankeegospelgirl

      No, I admit that I have not read Paul’s statement. But I do know that he underestimates the Muslim threat, and he’s a typical libertarian when it comes to war in general, even implying we shouldn’t have entered WWII. Now don’t get me wrong, there is an extent to which I sympathize which people who point out that we can’t be the world’s policemen and that not all wars are wise. I think our military tends to become deeply embroiled in places where we really had no business sending men in the first place. That being said, we can’t take things to the other extreme.

  • Vincent Harris

    Michael Gerson represents the communitarian coalition that came to power with Bush jr. Just like World Magazine’s chief-editor Marvin Olasky he claims Ron Paul’s constitutional libertarianism isn’t compatible with Christianity. Other evangelical social conservatives, like former Francis Schaeffer assistent John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, disagree and point to the dangers of the totalitarian state.

    If Gerson wants to convince Christians that constitutional libertarianism can’t be compatible with Christian faith he should come up with something better then diversion tactics

  • donsands

    “No, I admit that I have not read Paul’s statement.”

    You need to read it my sister and friend. He”s no loon. People are saying that all over the place: Hannity, O’reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc. (Actually, some of these seem looney tunes to me, but I know they are simply very “conservative”).

    Paul has some weaknesses for sure. But he is honest. None of the others will be honest in that they will actually cut spending by 1 trillion dollars, and balance the budget in three years. Ron “says what he means, and means what he says.” Will it happen 100% like he wants? Probably not, because you have the three branches of Government to deal with. But he will try to make it work, you can count on it.
    This is how America needs to change. I have a small corporation, and we are hurting big time. And the government cares little, except that they keep on making more regulations and higher taxes. They [the government] just keep on wanting to be my mommy and daddy, and they stink at it.

    • kevin s.

      Just because someone wrote a politically palatable policy statement for him doesn’t mean he isn’t a loon.

      If Ron Paul’s supporters want to change hearts and minds, they might want to equip a weapon aside from “Ron Paul supports the Constitution! Everyone else is the same! Watch this promotional video!”

      The criticisms of Ron Paul are substantive and real. If you feel it is beneath you to address them, enjoy being irrelevant to American politics for the rest of your natural life.

    • yankeegospelgirl

      Listen, the one area where I’ve never uttered a word of criticism for Paul is economics. I agree with everything he’s said there. He understands economics, and he’s on the money (no pun intended). But we need a holistic perspective, and the overall picture isn’t promising.

  • donsands

    “Just because someone wrote a politically palatable policy statement for him doesn’t mean he isn’t a loon.”

    His honesty and integrity can make him a “loon”? His statement is who he is, not like the rest of the “political” same old same old, like Newt, Romney, and the rest.

    If you think he is a loon, then it seems you have been listening to others, and so, that’s the way it goes in our world. We listen to sound-bites from the Media, on both sides, and are convinced by our own hunches and feelings.

    We need to check all the facts and truth. Find out if someone has integrity, and doesn’t “say what they think others want to hear”.

    “But we need a holistic perspective, and the overall picture isn’t promising.”-ygg

    I agree.

  • Paula

    donsands, have you even read the platforms of the other candidates? They are nearly all planning to drastically cut spending and several are calling for a balanced budget amendment. You’re either ignorant of that fact or being completely dishonest in claiming that Ron Paul is the only one.

    And just because Paul says he will do it isn’t going to make it happen. There is nothing in his past history to demonstrate that he’s able to get anyone in Congress to go along with him on any of his policy positions. He’s a loner in Congress which is nice when you want to stand on principal and make a point, but it accomplishes little in the way of passing legislation. If elected, he would be able to do little more than stand in the oval office and stomp his feet and veto everything that crosses his desk. Gridlock will not balance the budget.

  • donsands

    Paula, Ron has integrity, and is steadfast in his beliefs. These others say things, and do something else. Romney can say whatever he wants, and I can say, “I don’t see the integrity my friend.” The same “same old same old Newt.
    We can go over and over this, but the bottom line, the bottom is that Ron Paul hasn’t moved. He is what he is.
    And he will fight for small government, and more freedom for us. The others might, but probably won’t; or who knows what they will do.

  • donsands

    Who is Riehl World Review? Never heard of him, or her. You know, I have had link after link afetr link after link after link to read of these types of “facts” about Ron Paul. Most are unworthy to read. Others are. But all in all Ron Paul is honest, and has integrity and if you think he doesn’t, why not go to him yourself, and find out. Of course you don’t have to do this either.

    I have found out the man is honest. I like that. The others are are not honest, or as honest at best. Sad to say.

    • yankeegospelgirl

      SOME of the others may well not be (and we’ve seen sad cases like Herman Cain), but I don’t think it would be fair to say that ALL the other Republican candidates are dishonest. I’d seriously consider voting for Santorum.

    • Paula

      You say you have “link after link to read” facts about Ron Paul. Are you choosing to avoid them because you don’t want to face the fact that your guy is a politician, just like the rest of them, with a trail of inconsistencies and clunkers in his voting record? Why attack the blogger who is simply providing a link to the Congressional Record instead of dealing with the fact that Ron Paul, when given the opportunity, chose to vote to fund Big Bird and the rest of the characters at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Where is that in RP’s sacred version of the Constitution?l

      It seems that Ron Paul has been mythologized and much of it is not based upon the actual facts of his voting record. You might want to read the Club for Growth’s White Paper on Ron Paul (and the other presidential candidates). While it commends him for many of his principled stands for liberty and against spending, it also gives many examples of spending that are completely at odds with what he actually preaches:

      ” Some of the outrageous pork projects Paul voted to keep include $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s Urban Center; $129,000 for the “perfect Christmas tree project;” $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft Technician Training Project in California; $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium; and $500,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California. In 2007, Ron Paul requested more than sixty earmarks “worth tens of millions of dollars for causes as diverse as rebuilding a Texas theater, funding a local trolley, and helping his state’s shrimp industry.” Paul’s affection for earmarks was also on display when he voted against a proposal that would “require the Education secretary to submit an explanation to Congress if grants authorized by the bill are not awarded competitively.”

      In defense of his support for earmarks, Rep. Paul took the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” position, arguing that “I don’t think they should take our money in the first place. But if they take it, I think we should ask for it back.” This is a contradiction of Paul’s self-proclaimed “opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution.”

      Really, which article of the Constitution authorizes Ron Paul to spend money on a Mule Packer’s museum?

  • donsands

    “Are you choosing to avoid them because you don’t want to face the fact”-Paula


    Well, I’ll check this spending of Paul’s out. I simply want the truth, and it seemed to me Ron Paul wanted to do the best he could to be truthful, and stay within the founding fathers Declaration of Independence. I know he hasn’t changed since the 1980’s with his stance for Freedom and smaller government.
    I’m sure you can find things wrong for sure. With all of us for that matter. If anyone says he never messes up, then look out. And a lot of them say that. They play the game.
    I thought Ron didn’t. And maybe he doesn’t.

    I’ll check it out.

    Thanks for the article, I’ll pass it on and ask for some explanation.

    There will be lots of lies, and “half truths” for sure, and have been from the “media”. And I hope we don’t eat them up because it fits our taste. I truly hope that for us all..

  • Ian Hugh Clary

    This is a response by CATO’s David Boaz to Gerson’s other piece on Santorum, where he takes swipes at libertarianism: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/michael-gerson-just-cant-get-enough-of-libertarianism/ A telling sentence: “In 749 words rebutting the libertarian criticism of Santorum, Gerson never actually names it.” Given the language Gerson uses, it would seem apparent that he has a bone to pick, but it’s not necessarily objectively driven–more emotional.

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