Ron Paul: Courage, Contradictions, And Cowardice

5 comments December 23rd, 2007at 07:06pm Posted by Eli

I just finished reading the transcript of Ron Paul’s appearance on Meet The Press, and it’s fascinating stuff. Paul says a lot of things, good and bad, that no other mainstream presidential candidate of either party would dare say. But there are also a couple of issues where he just sounds like a hypocritical weasel.

First, some examples of Paul’s extreme/controversial statements (and remember, I’m just bullet-pointing, not necessarily agreeing):

o Wants to abolish the income tax and IRS completely. No flat tax, no 20-25% hike in sales tax. Just get rid of it, and slash the budget down to “Constitutional size,” whatever that means.

o Wants to bring all 572,000 overseas troops home. Says they’re not protecting America where they are, cost hundreds of billions a year, and make the world hate and mistrust us.

o Would not defend South Korea against attack by North Korea, would not defend Israel from attack by Iran, which he says is an absurdity anyway (“That is like saying, ‘Iran is about to invade Mars.'”)

o Would cut off all aid to Israel and the Arab world, and butt out of Israel’s affairs because our involvement and aid is holding them back diplomatically and economically.

o Al-Qaeda attacked us because our troops are all over the Middle East (Saudi Arabia in particular), not because they “hate our freedoms.” If we leave the Middle East, al-Qaeda recruitment will dry up and they’ll leave us alone.

o Hates wars of any kind (including the “War On Drugs”) because they make people “more willing to sacrifice their liberties in order to be safe and secure.”

o All drugs should be decriminalized at the federal level, with legality decided by the states.

o Wants to eliminate the Department of Education, but denies ever saying that public schools should be abolished.

o Kids should be allowed to opt out of Social Security because it’s not keeping up with inflation (not entirely sure on this one – Paul’s response was hard to follow, and Timmeh didn’t pursue it).

o The Civil Rights Act was bad because it was an overreach of federal power into the state and private spheres, and poisoned race relations in America.

o The Civil War was completely unnecessary – the government should have just bought up all the slaves and freed them.

Alrighty then. (Unless I missed it, there was no mention of his support for the gold standard, or his opposition to abortion, which seems at odds with his libertarianism unless he believes that the rights of the fetus trump the rights of the mother.)

It takes some serious balls for a presidential candidate to say that we brought 9/11 on ourselves (by the way, does Ron Paul ever get attacked as a soft-on-terror, Qaeda-coddling weakling, or does that only apply to Democrats?), just like it takes some serious balls to say that the Civil Rights Act was a mistake. He may be racist and half-crazy, but he’s not holding back. Until you get to earmarks and term limits, and then he goes all squirrelly:

MR. RUSSERT: When I looked at your record, you talked about big government and how opposed you are to it, but you seem to have a different attitude about your own congressional district…. This is the Houston Chronicle: “Representative Ron Paul has long crusaded against a big central government. But he also” “represented a congressional district that’s consistently among the top in Texas in its reliance on dollars from Washington. In the first nine months of the federal government’s” fiscal “2006 fiscal year,” “it received more than $4 billion.” And they report, The Wall Street Journal, 65 earmark-targeted projects, $400 million that you have put into congressional bills for your district, which leads us to the Congressional Quarterly. “The Earmark Dossier of `Dr. No.’ There isn’t much that” Ron–Dr. “Ron Paul thinks the federal government should do. Apparently, though, earmarks” for his district “are OK. Paul is the sponsor of no fewer than 10 earmarks in the water resources bill,” all benefiting his district. The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway: $32 million. The sunken ship you want to be moved from Freeport Harbor. The Bayou Navigation Channel. They talk about $8 million for shrimp fishermen.


REP. PAUL: You got it completely wrong. I’ve never voted for an earmark in my life.

MR. RUSSERT: No, but you put them in the bill.

REP. PAUL: I put it in because I represent people who are asking for some of their money back. But it doesn’t cut any spending to vote against an earmark. And the Congress has the responsibility to spend the money. Why leave the money in the executive branch and let them spend the money?


MR. RUSSERT: …and then you, then you know it’s going to pass Congress and so you, you don’t refuse the money.

REP. PAUL: Well, no, of course not. It’s like taking a tax credit. If you have a tax credit, I’m against the taxes but I take all my tax credits….

Got that? He’s opposed to earmarks, but he requests them for his own district. But then he votes against them, so it’s okay! It’s not his fault that the pork-laden bills pass, Ron Paul did all he could to hold the line against government spending. He says that pork is wrong… but as long as Congress is going to keep voting for it, he wants to make sure he gets some too.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask this. Term limits. You ran on term limits. “I think we should have term limits for our elected leaders.” You’ve been in Congress 18 years.

REP. PAUL: But I never ran on voluntary term limits. There’s a big difference. I didn’t sign a pledge for a voluntary term limit. Matter of fact, some of the best people that I worked with, who were the most principled, came in on voluntary term limits. Some of them broke their promises, and some didn’t, and they were very good people. So some of the good people left. And it’s true, I, I didn’t run on that, Tim, you’re wrong on that. I support term limits. You know, I, I, and I voted all–we had 16 votes one time on term limits, and I voted yes for them…. But voluntary term limits is a lot different than compulsory term limits. It’s good to have a turnover, but that isn’t the solution either. It’s the philosophy of government that counts. It’s only…

MR. RUSSERT: But if you believe in the philosophy of term limits, why wouldn’t you voluntarily…

REP. PAUL: Well, it’s, it’s one of those, it’s one of those things that’s not on–I mean, you don’t see that out I’m campaigning on that. I mean, I don’t think it’s–I don’t think it’s the solution. Philosophy is the solution. What the role of government ought to be, so if you have a turnover and the same people come in and they believe in big government, nothing good is going to come of it.

It’s just like the earmarks. Paul professes to believe in term limits, but as long as everyone else is benefitting from the lack of compulsory term limits, he figures he should too.

To me he sounds like a baseball player who thinks steroids are ruining the game but uses them anyway, just to keep up with everyone else. It may be understandable, but it’s not exactly what you’d call a principled stand.

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans,Ron Paul


  • 1. EARL  |  December 23rd, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    I understand perfectly his position on earmarks and term limits.
    Had he volunteered to limit his own term we would not have him as a candidate at this time…
    Earmarks returning to Paul’s constituents is as he said, simply a return of a portion of the money that the Federal government has stolen from them….agreed,,,,this is not rocket science…….

    If only Dr Paul could get the government to stop stealing our income and eliminate earmarks altogether, this is what he would do… fact this is one of the reasons he continues to fight…..

  • 2. Eli  |  December 23rd, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Sorry, I’m not buying it. My problem isn’t that he’s saying he wants to eliminate taxes, it’s that he’s boasting that he’s never voted for earmarks, while at the same time he’s been *requesting* them and benefiting from them.

    I understand that he doesn’t want to unilaterally disarm when every other congresscritter is requesting earmarks too, but that still doesn’t make it a courageous, principled stand on principle.

    And if he *does* succeed in eliminating the income tax and all earmark money goes away, what replaces it in his district or any other? It’s not like that tax windfall is going to energize corporations or private citizens to pay for the projects that earmarks used to. Maybe Paul has a more optimistic view of the free market than I do.

    As for term limits, Paul could still be running for president if he had been term-limited; he just wouldn’t have to worry about running for a House seat at the same time.

    And as for that House seat, yes, it’s true that if there were term limits he wouldn’t be there, but so what? By supporting compulsory term limits but not voluntarily term-limiting himself, he’s saying that after a certain number of years congresscritters become part of the problem… but not him.

  • 3. Joe  |  December 23rd, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    “but its not exactly what youd call a principled stand.”

    – Splitting hairs. He’s the most principled of any of the candidates, if not the entire congress, yet some people will nitpick and claim that he’s not principled. I bet that if a person voted the exact same way Jesus would have it still wouldn’t be good enough. Gotta find some little something to disect. He’s not perfect. No one is. But good grief.

  • 4. Eli  |  December 23rd, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    If that was my *only* problem with Ron Paul, I’d be supporting him. But it’s not. I don’t want a president who’s rabidly anti-abortion and anti-immigration, wants to take the government apart and leave everything up to the states, and who is in bed with all manner of racist, white supremacist kooks.

    I admire his uncompromising stand on war and constitutional rights (and wish the democratic frontrunners would emulate it), but very little else.

    But if he can move opposition to the war and shredding of the Constitution into the political mainstream, as opposed to the exclusive province of us wacky leftist terrorist-loving hippies, then he will be doing the nation a great service.

  • 5. shoephone  |  December 24th, 2007 at 5:01 am

    I have to say, I sat there with my jaw dropping when Paul made the comment about the Civil War and slavery — one of the most outlandish comments I’ve heard yet. Apparently, he didn’t take many history classes in college, and missed the part about how slavery was THE defining economic engine for the southern agrarian system for roughly 200 years. Having the northern govt. “buy them up” implies the southerners would have been willing sellers.

    But it’s always nice to see someone make Russert look like the fool he is, and for that, the entertainment value was high.

    Happy Holidays Eli!

    I bought pumpernickel bagels today, just for you…breakfast starts at 10:00 a.m.

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