Monday, January 14, 2008
Hatchet Job of the Day
... when journalists take Mr. Paul seriously enough to actually probe his ideas, what they find is pretty strange. —editorial in the Washington Post, "Ron Paul's Appeal"
Last week was "Get Ron Paul" Week in the media. It has become an accepted truth, at least among journalists and pundits, that it's their responsibility to monitor the elections to ensure the election of corporate hacks. The paradigm is first to ignore, then to question, then to smear anyone not serving the "business community."
Our "serious" journalists have passed from Step One, of studiously ignoring Paul, directly to Step Three, actively smearing him, since Step Two requires debate. I wasn't aware of how concerted the effort was until I read the editorial quoted above.
The charge against Paul, as you're no doubt aware by now, is that because a newsletter bearing his name published racist rants some years ago, these are the views of Ron Paul. Whether the majority of the hacks in the media believe this I cannot say, but it is perfectly clear that that is not their motivation.
Now let me add quickly that I have no idea whether Paul is in fact a "racist." It's easier in our time to pick up the "racist" (along with the "anti-semitic") label than to get gum on your shoe. To know whether someone is a racist depends upon (1) having a workable definition of racism and (2) knowing what someone really thinks. What is clear is that Paul has not generally behaved as racists are presumed to behave nor has he voted as such.1
Paul has denied any knowledge of the articles in the newsletter. If the media accept that as true, there is plenty of reason to question Paul's organizational and management skills, which some think might be relevant to performing the job of President—or even the level of his contact with reality. Yet I haven't heard or seen an iota of criticism along that line.
On the other hand if journalists believe he's lying, there's plenty of reason to investigate the charge and expose him. While other candidates may have made careers from lying, Paul represents himself as the one truth-teller of the pack, so exposure would deflate his followers who fervently believe that Paul is no hypocrite.
Without better knowledge of the facts, I tend toward the view that Paul is a bit "out of it."
What is certain is that Paul is an ideologue in the grip of a simplistic religion shared by his followers and shared by many who for various reasons will not vote for him. It's a folk religion that people who've bootstrapped their way up in the world ardently believe in, the more literate among them adopting portions of the sacred economic texts of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. And why not? They've been so busy with "hard work" that they've had little time to notice that the world doesn't work that way for most. And the isolationism they sooner or later pursue is as much local as international, as you should note as you pass by—or drive out from—the gated communities mushrooming about.
But these ideas merit debate. They're far more broadly held than the media wish to acknowledge. And Paul's opposition to the war and to corporate welfarism has made him attractive to some who consider themselves on the left—a reason for the left (such as there is of it) to encourage rather than stifle debate on these topics. But that is precisely what our corporate propagandists, known collectively as the "mainstream media," intend to prevent.
Though the Post editorial I quoted at the beginning was titled "Ron Paul's Appeal," the author neglected to tell us what it was. Just an oversight, I suppose.
1I exclude here his libertarian views and votes that would send a great number of blacks into even greater poverty than the status quo ante. Some people view such actions as inherently "racist." But that is often a convenient way for liberals to avoid discussion of elitism and class. [back]