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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has established himself as one of the Republican Party’s most influential members, and a legitimate early contender for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016. But the biggest hurdle to Paul’s ascension as a national leader may be the man whose vast political network enabled his improbable rise in the first place: his father, former congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul.

The elder Paul attracted legions of diehard supporters with his longshot 2012 bid, cementing his role as the public face of the GOP’s libertarian wing — a mantle that was neatly transferred to his son after the latter’s highly publicized filibuster over the Obama administration’s drone strike policy.

But his campaign also shed light on the darker aspects of Paul’s past, such as his series of racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic newsletters, and his close association with white supremacists and neo-Confederates, among other unsavory characters.

Now Paul’s disturbing connections, which he vehemently denied during the 2012 campaign, are on display for all to see at his new think tank, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

As James Kirchick reports in The Daily Beast, the institute’s board is stocked with all manner of 9/11 truthers, supporters of authoritarian regimes, anti-Semites, neo-Confederates, and more. Among others, Paul’s associates now include:

—Lew Rockwell, a member of the right-wing fringe whom Paul explicitely disavowed during his presidential campaign, and who recently compared law enforcement after the Boston Marathon bombing to Nazi stormtroopers.

—John Laughland, who denies that the Bosnian genocide ever took place, and maintains that former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was convicted by a “kangaroo court.”

—Eric Margolis, who denies any conclusive proof linking Osama bin Laden to the September 11th attacks, and instead suggests that they may have been “a plot by America’s far right or by Israel or a giant cover-up.”

—Michael Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer who has described American Jews as a “fifth column” intent on sabatoging American foreign policy to benefit Israel.

—Walter Block, who believes that the Confederacy should have won the Civil War, and believes that America’s current foreign policy can be blamed on “the monster Lincoln.”

Those five names barely scratch the surface of the unsettling information that Kirchick has uncovered in his must-read article.

Although Ron Paul never had a realistic chance of winning the presidency, he still recognized that he had no choice but to disavow his connection with this rogues’ gallery of lunatics to legitimize his candidacy. But now, while his son has a very serious chance to compete for the Republican nomination in his own right, the senior Paul is drawing these disturbing figures closer than ever.

This presents a very serious problem for Rand Paul, who has presented himself as the man who can reverse the Republican Party’s dismal performance with minority voters, particularly African-Americans. Given his own troubling statements about the Civil Rights Act, the Kentucky senator would have already had trouble convincing voters that “the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights.” With his father openly partnering with neo-Confederates, that mission — along with Paul’s equally critical task of hanging on to the moderate and independent voters who have inflated his poll numbers — may be totally impossible.

Starting with his surprising decision to endorse Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign before his father had ended his own, Rand Paul has taken great pains to present himself as more mainstream than his father, and consequently as a more realistic presidential candidate. But as long as his father persists with his fringe right-wing activity — or unless Rand Paul does the unthinkable, and publicly disavows his father — Rand may never come any closer to the presidency than Ron.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

  • Allan Richardson

    The same people who fanatically insist that game rules be intensely enforced in pro sports want the far more serious “game” of REAL LIFE to be run like football without referees. As if walking off a 15 yard penalty for clipping is “socialist redistribution.”

  • howa4x

    Rand Paul doesn’t have to disavow his father’s group since he has made some great comments on his own. Lets start with the ADA(Americans with disabilities act) Rand said instead of making builders put in such things as elevators and handicapped bathrooms, People with disabilities should only be allowed to work on the 1st floor. This shows the empathy he feels for people, kinda like the father’s neo Nazi bent where disabled people were just killed to purify the strain. Give him time and he will start making statements that will offend more and more groups.

    • I might add that all you need to know about the Paul’s can be summed up in Rand’s name. Ayn Rand fully believed in Social Darwinism. And a lot of things that were just as bad.

      The Paul’s are devotees of Rand. Strangely, she was the very rare type of sociopath that right-wing Christians use to defame atheists. The Paul’s and much of the right-wing loves her. Now is that an anomaly or just an example of the lack of intelligence and common decency in the average “winger.”

      • howa4x

        True, I always wondered how on one side the right wing loves Ayn Rand and on the other spouts Christian beliefs since the two are mutually exclusive.

        • RationalPrinciple

          Funny, I remember one of Ayn Rands greatest influences was Leo Tolstoy. Just because she was an atheist says nothing about the people she respected. Believing in Objectivism and having Christian Faith are NOT mutually exclusive.

          • howa4x

            Really? Jesus was for greed? I didn’t know that. I thought that Jesus wanted respect and dignity for the poor and meek. I didn’t know he was for the accumulation of wealth. This shows me that the new Christian faith has nothing to do with his teachings. Thank you for reveling that to me

          • Ayn Rand would disagree. She often said that Objectivism and Christianity were incomapatible.

  • JDavidS

    More proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… They’re both nuttier than squirrel shit.

  • afisher

    I can only hope that everyone takes the time to look as Ron Paul’s ideas on “education”. It isn’t about education – but a brainwashing scheme. http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/04/ron-paul-home-schooling-curriculum/64047/

  • sigrid28

    Rand Paul’s potential candidacy has the same inherent weakness as that of Jeb Bush: Both candidates claim legitimacy in part because of their fathers. Whatever happened to democracy and meritocracy in America? I’ve seen enough examples of Republican nepotism and cronyism to last a lifetime.

  • charleo1

    The Ron Paul institute for peace, and prosperity. Ever notice when
    Republicans start talking about peace, and prosperity, we can depend
    on seeing very damned little of either?

  • If Rand Paul is legitimately aspiring to elected office because of nepotism then I suggest we all take a serious look at Chelsey Clinton, she has brains and uses them courtesy of the intelliegence and dedication of both her parents rather than just Rand’s insane father.

    • RobertCHastings

      I would vote for her, AND her mother. Both are intelligent and very capable women.