An oldie but goodie: DAILY KOS
This time, let’s turn our attention from Paul’s words to his actions, and see how the congressman from Texas has, for the past quarter century, systematically built a support network for himself among the worst far-right crackpots, racists, and neo-Nazis in America.
THE STRANGE CASE OF LARRY PRATT
In 1996, presidential candidate Pat Buchanan got in hot water when the Center for Public Integrity revealed connections between Buchanan’s campaign co-chairman Larry Pratt and Pastor Pete Peters, a leader of the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, had been a frequent guest at meetings and on radio and television programs hosted by Peters, who inveighed against “Talmudic filth” as Pratt looked on. On February 15, 1996, Pratt took a leave of absence from the Buchanan campaign, so as to avoid causing a “distraction.”
The very next day, reported the San Antonio Express-News on February 18, Ron Paul distributed a press release touting Pratt’s endorsement of Paul’s candidacy for the U.S. Congress. Pratt’s endorsement of Paul was anything but pro forma; the February 22, 1996 issue of Roll Call noted that Paul and Mike Gunn, a Republican candidate for Congress in Mississippi who had done some work for David Duke in the latter’s 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial campaign, were the only two candidates formally endorsed for office that year by Pratt’s organization. Paul’s opponent in the Republican primary, Rep. Greg Laughlin, called upon Paul to repudiate Pratt; Paul declined to do so, with his spokesman saying that Paul opposed racism but that “nothing has been proven against Mr. Pratt. He has denied it.” (Pratt’s enthusiasm for Paul continues to this day, as this quasi-endorsement of Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign makes clear.)
THE COMPANY RON PAUL KEEPS
Paul’s disinclination to separate himself from the Larry Pratts of the world is part of a pattern that over the last 20 years has seen him snuggling up to some extremely questionable characters on the far right fringe. Like, for example, secessionists, who gathered at a conference in April of 1995 to hear Paul speak about the ”once and future Republic of Texas.” Or the beady-eyed listeners of The Political Cesspool. It’s the unofficial radio program of theCouncil of Conservative Citizens—you know, the repainted White Citizens Council that got Trent Lott into a bit of trouble a few years ago. (Tune in tonight for their special program on “the disastrous Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education decision, one which ushered in an era of radical leftist ideology upon the American citizenry.”) Paul has been a guest on the program; you’ll find him listed under P, right above Prussian Blue, the white supremacist teenage singing duo.
Or the crazy-as-fuck John Birch Society, to which Paul is more than happy to grant the occasional interview and even speak at their dinners (the podcast, I am sorry to report, no longer seems to be available). In fact, Paul is the only member of Congress to receive aperfect 100 from the John Birch Society in its most recent member ratings.
THE KLAN’S MAN IN WASHINGTON
Like many members of Congress, the prolific Paul posts his speeches, columns, and statements on his House Web site. He allows anyone to republish and distribute them, and many do. For example, our old friends the Council of Conservative Citizens occasionally publish Paul in its newsletter, the Citizens Informer (warning: PDF). And then there’s David Duke, who can’t get enough of Ron Paul; you can find his columns on davidduke.com here and here and here andhere and here. If you’re more of a dead-tree fan, you can find Paul’s thoughts on foreign policy reprinted in the January 2007 issue of the National Times, a white supremacist newspaper that apparently gets distributed through the time-honored neo-Nazi method of throwing the thing onto unsuspecting people’s porches in the middle of the night and scurrying away.
For a real look inside the tiny, demented mind of the neo-Nazi, though, we need to go toStormfront. Stormfront is the oldest and largest white supremacist site on the World Wide Web; its discussion boards provide an unequaled opportunity for eavesdropping on the thoughts and plans of the racist underground in America and around the world. And you don’t have to visit for very long before one thing jumps out at you: they positively adore Ron Paul. (Please note that links in this paragraph go to a hate site and should probably be considered NSFW.) An “Is Ron Paul the One?” topic is currently stickied in Stormfront’s Newslinks & Articles forum;another active topic on Paul’s candidacy has received 446 posts and 12,040 pageviews since late March. A topic called “Ron Paul’s Race Problem” (hey, Wonkette musta read my diary!) was just started today and already has 17 replies. They’re busy little racists over there.
DOES ANY OF THIS STUFF REALLY MATTER?
Politicians can’t choose their supporters, after all. Isn’t it a bit unfair to tar Paul by association to these lunatics? No, it isn’t. This stuff matters because Paul makes so little effort to disassociate himself from the racist, anti-Semitic, crackpot groups that support him. Whether he shares these groups’ beliefs or not, the fact that he doesn’t care enough to do anything about them speaks volumes. I’ll wrap up by turning the floor over to Eric Dondero, a senior aid to Paul from 1997 to 2003, who had this to say in a blog comment in May:
Ron Paul has had some ties that are nothing to be proud of in the past to far-right groups. My former boss IS NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE. However, he is grossly inattentive in dealing with groups who are blatantly anti-Semitic.
…Whether they are using him to gain in credibility, or whether it’s just coincidence doesn’t matter much. It’s the image that counts. No doubt this will all come to haunt him in his race for the Presidency.