GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul is not a racist. But he's a class-A opportunist. The smoking gun proof is his much-maligned racist newsletters. Proof, not because they spewed racial bile, or that Paul pretty much knew that the writers of the racially loaded quips were fanning racial flames. Enough persons that were familiar with Paul's Ron Paul Survival Report have publicly blown the lid off of Paul. They made it clear that he knew what was being said in the newsletters, and approved it.
But Paul didn't greenlight the racist stuff in the newsletters because he is a racist, or in the purity of literary license. He approved the digs because they were a quick and dirty way to make a fast buck. A then out-of-political-office Paul was in debt. His consulting business wasn't doing very much, and few were breaking down the subscription doors to lap up his newsletters that mostly focused on financial and investment tidbits weren't up. There are tons of financial investment chit-chat, tips and advice from far more reputable investment houses and financial gurus then from a seemingly washed-up former congressman. Paul lost a Senate bid in 1984 and was out of Congress until 1996.
So Paul hit on the perfect angle to ramp up interest, sales, and jingle the cash registers: toss out inflammatory zingers on gays, Jews, and, especially, blacks. The newsletter put some whoppers out there. This was done all under Paul's watchful dollar sign eye. The predictable happened. Paul made money, lots of money, off of them. He discovered that there are legions of unreconstructed bigots here and abroad that feast off anything that demeans, ridicules, and lies about gays, Jews and blacks. The newsletters were a gold mine and Paul soon retired his debt.
The dangling questions now are what does this say about a politician who has billed himself, sold himself, and got millions of others to buy into the sell, that he's a Simon pure, principled citizen politician that stands above the inherent muck, corruption, deal making, and money grab that hopelessly taints politics and politicians? The other is if Paul was an opportunist, up to and including using racial and anti-Semitic digs to make money, get attention, and resurrect his then-faded political career, what else would Paul do if he were by some stroke to get the GOP nomination to sell out his stated principles?
The great tragedy of Paul, then, is not that he's been unmasked as a racist. He hasn't, but that so many put so much stock in his seemingly tireless pursuit of political integrity and selfless duty. This is the single biggest reason that Paul has stirred such fierce and rabid passion among so many backers, especially young persons. They truly look to him as a political deus ex machina that poses a real contrarian to the status quo politicians, both Democrats and Republicans. It's also the biggest reason for the mainstream press's fascination with Paul. He was, well, different, or at least sounded different, on everything from whacking the Federal Reserve to shutting down America's military machine overseas. At a time when endless public opinion polls show that Congress has ocean-bottom approval ratings and often wide swings downward in President Obama's ratings, the disgust and distrust of politicians couldn't be more absolute.
This has provided the fertile soil for Paul to get maximum mileage out of railing against top-heavy government interference and intrusion into the lives of Americans. Paul also knows that spicing up the horribly distorted Jeffersonian principle of limited government with race has broad implications for scrapping regulations on environmental and civil liberties, and consumer protections, gutting regulations to prevent corporate abuses, and of course, slashing funding or eliminating government health services, education, welfare, and labor rules and laws. That the root of America's woes -- bloated spending, soaring deficits, congressional gridlock, crippling energy dependence, massive tax disparities, the drug plague, and even America's wars are money tainted federal government. He has drilled home in his talks, lectures, and innumerable GOP presidential debates. Paul's seeming anti-establishment, anti-party, maverick position plays well to the legions of frustrated, disgusted, even enraged GOP rank and filers and purported libertarians that are desperate to have an alternative to the GOP establishment anointed presidential contenders.
This has even forced the GOP and to an extent some Democrats to give a grudging nod to Paul's presence and at least as far as the GOP is concerned consider him a real threat to their fixation on making Obama a one-term president if he sulks in his tent a la Achilles and does not rev up his backers to support the ultimate GOP nominee, which will not be him.
Paul did not lie when he said that he didn't write the racist stuff in his newsletters. He told the truth when he repudiated them. That's the easy part, but repudiating his opportunism in having them in their first place, that mocks the principles he spouts, is another matter. The newsletters are sad proof of that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and on thehutchinsonreportnews.com