Rick Santorum’s defeats in Michigan and Arizona—and possible defeats in tomorrow’s Super Tuesdays contests—come as the Republican Party appears to be regaining some amount of common sense. Although at one time appealing, numerous individuals have pointed out the candidate’s flaws—including many libertarians, who have pointed out that the guy really isn’t a friend to individual liberty and is just another big government statist.
And then, of course, there are those who simply think he is downright crazy.
I was reminded of the old adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Many libertarians have lobbed granite boulders at Santorum (and Gingrich, and Romney…and even Paul), but as I was thinking about it, we really aren’t all that good and pure ourselves. We have our own problems to clean up, our own areas that we need to fix.
In case you’re not familiar with them, there were newsletters written under Ron Paul’s name that had some very offensive, racist and homophobic content. Some past associates of Paul have attributed them to a ghostwriter, and almost no one believe Paul wrote them himself; though he certainly raised money off of them.
The newsletters were brought up to Paul during an interview with Gloria Borger on CNN. Sick of the questions about them, Paul took off his microphone and walked off the set:
While I’m a Paul supporter, I don’t think he could have handled that any worse. This is something that Paul is going to have to deal with, whether he likes it or not. The newsletters are disgusting and they bear his name. Explaining them away as “old news” or saying that he has “disavowed” them (and I don’t believe Paul is a racist) just isn’t going to cut it.
Paul’s chances to win the nomination were already low, but with all of this coming up just before the vote in Iowa, it really could put a damper on his showing.
Michael Gerson, who served as a speechwriter for George W. Bush, is worried about the rise of libertarianism in the Republican Party:
The Republican wave carries along a group that strikes a faux revolutionary pose. “Our Founding Fathers,” says Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, “they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”
Angle has managed to embrace the one Founding Father with a disturbing tolerance for the political violence of the French Revolution. “Rather than it should have failed,” enthused Jefferson, “I would have seen half the earth desolated.” Hardly a conservative model.
But mainstream conservatives have been strangely disoriented by Tea Party excess, unable to distinguish the injudicious from the outrageous. Some rose to Angle’s defense or attacked her critics. Just to be clear: A Republican Senate candidate has identified the United States Congress with tyranny and contemplated the recourse to political violence. This is disqualifying for public office. It lacks, of course, the seriousness of genuine sedition. It is the conservative equivalent of the Che Guevara T-shirt — a fashion, a gesture, a toying with ideas the wearer only dimly comprehends. The rhetoric of “Second Amendment remedies” is a light-weight Lexington, a cut-rate Concord. It is so far from the moral weightiness of the Founders that it mocks their memory.