Friday, January 11, 2008

Ron Paul's Dirty Little Secret: What Kirchick Missed

The Attack. Is Ron Paul a bigot? Anyone who reads the series of offensive Ron Paul Newsletter articles collected by Jamie Kirchick can reach only three conclusions:
  1. The articles are complete forgeries;
  2. Dr. Paul actually did write these articles or was fully aware of their contents; or
  3. Dr. Paul didn't write any of the offensive parts and simply let others write them without scrutinizing their contents.
Although some of the Paul signatures on the newsletters collected by Kirchick are clearly not Paul's, this is likely the result of an auto-signature. Absent better evidence for Door #1 (although the Stephen Glass affair does make one wonder), we must ask, as between Doors #2 and #3, whom should we believe?
  • Jamie Kirchick, who, being better familiar with the evidence he collected than anyone, publicly accuses Ron Paul of bigotry (Door 1) OR
  • Jamie Kirchick, who candidly admitted to me on the eve of his "big break" as a smear-journalist that he didn't actually believe Paul was a homophobe?
Indeed, if Jamie doesn't really believe Dr. Paul is a homophobe, on what basis can we expect that he really believes Dr. Paul is guilty of any other kind of bigotry? (Read my response to the National Review's laughable suggestion that Kirchick only came to realize what a bigot Paul truly was after Kirchick told me he didn't actually think Paul was a homophobe.)

The Truth. I suspect that Kirchick knows the truth but has chosen to ignore it for the sake of a "great" story: Ron Paul's dirty little secret is not that he is a bigot--it is that he all too often places his trust in persons who do not deserve it and fails to exercise appropriate scrutiny over their activities--as many observers of this controversy and the official campaign have noted as in this excellent suggested statement.

As a principled and personally consistent advocate of freedom, Dr. Paul is second to none. He is a true statesman in a field full of crass politicians. In less than a year, he has inspired a grassroots movement prophesied by Barry Goldwater in his classic Conscience of a Conservative:

The turn will come when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to the men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power that they have been given. It will come when Americans, in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic.

Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose toto pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel the old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can."
I have no doubt that Ron Paul is that man. But if Americans decide not to put him in office, if Goldwater's "turn" does not come in this election, that failure may have more to do with Dr. Paul's failure to be more involved in the ongoing operation of his official campaign staff than with the appeal of his message.

If even half the complaints about the official campaign staff on the Ron Paul
grassroots forums are true, one might reasonably wonder whether Dr. Paul has made the same mistake in managing his Campaign as he did with his newsletters: not choosing bigots this time (not by any stretch of the imagination) but simply choosing persons ill-suited for key roles. A single such person in a position of authority could sour the culture of even best of organizations--presidential campaigns included.

Feedback Sought. Dr. Paul has just asked his supporters for constructive criticism. This demonstrates exactly the kind of self-examination and active involvement needed from Dr. Paul. The intensity--and yes, diversity--of grassroots support for Dr. Paul's campaign has been nothing short of astonishing. By the same token, there are a good many dedicated and talented persons on the staff, some of whom it has been my great honor and pleasure to know. The Ron Paul rEVOLution can succeed only by marrying these two elements--an energetic grassroots and a savvy professional staff--into a single force that can do electoral battle with the other Republican candidates (militarists and statists all, if to varying degrees).

We need the sort of political sophistication and self-awareness that can produce such campaign-saving lines like Hillary Clinton's brilliant, "I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice."

My Advice. I hope the hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life who constitute the "Ron Paul grassroots" will take up Dr. Paul on his request and voice their constructive criticism on RonPaulForums.

Whatever else happens, my own suggestion would be that Dr. Paul immediately hire an impartial ombudsman--ideally someone who:
  • Has experience in Republican presidential campaigns;
  • Shares and can articulate Dr. Paul's philosophy in a way that makes it meaningful to the average American;
  • Understands the bewildering array of grassroots constitutencies supporting Dr. Paul; and
  • Who can command their respect.
That person should be given full authority to implement swiftly the best constructive criticism received from the grassroots. Whatever managerial problems there are with the campaign, they must be addressed now--whatever that requires.

I would also encourage every friend of liberty to sign up today to be a Ron Paul Precinct Leader on the new Ron Paul Grassroots Central. While still evolving (discuss here with the grasroots), this powerful tool is exactly what we need to get out the vote for Paul in every precinct in the country--and the only way for Paul to win. Also be sure to watch the volunteer training videos (here for those who have signed up as Precinct Leaders or for here those who have only signed up as volunteers).


Lester Hunt said...

I think your ombudsman suggestion is excellent.

mike said...

Good analysis. I hadn't considered that some of Ron Paul's problems are internal to his organization, but it certainly could be true. Have you tried to get your analysis into Ron Paul's hands, or close to? I think it's worth the effort of trying.

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