Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The problem with Ron Paul is that he tells the truth

The problem with Ron Paul is that he tells the truth.

Seeing a skunk at the garden party, Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, threatened after the second Republican debate to organize a petition drive among Republican National Committee members to ban Texas Congressman Ron Paul from participating in further debates.

Also calling for Paul to be excluded from future debates is conservative writer Dean Barnett. In one short column, Barnett called Paul "daffy," a guy with a "missing screw," "bonkers," "the very definition of a crank," and "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs."

Supporters of Rep. Paul, residing "firmly on the lunatic fringe," are demonstrating a "lack of lives," said Barnett.

Bill Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues and video poker fame, also wants Paul out of the picture, as does Hugh Hewitt, executive editor of Townhall.com.

The calls to excommunicate the heretic in their midst came after Paul, a longtime campaigner for a less interventionist U.S. foreign policy, was asked if the attacks of Sept. 11 had altered his view. Paul replied: "Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East – I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. Right now, we're building an embassy in Iraq that is bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us."

Asked Fox News questioner Wendell Goler, "Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attack, sir?" Replied Paul: "I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it. And they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, 'I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.' They have already now, since that time, killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary."

Rudy Giuliani pounced. "May I comment on that?" he asked, taking the debate in a more adversarial direction. "That's really an extraordinary statement," he charged. "That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11."

With the audience responding with thunderous applause, Giuliani added, "And I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean it."

Instead, Paul replied: "I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages, and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here and attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there."

In his article "How Rudy won the second debate," Time magazine's Joe Klein reported that "Ron Paul offered Giuliani a historic slam-dunk," an easy shot that "reduced Paul to history."

Perhaps, but Paul has the historical facts on his side.

Bin Laden, along with several other Islamic militant leaders, issued fatwas in 1996 and 1998 declaring war, or jihad, on the United States and allied countries. War would come to America because "for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches," and because of "the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people" and the subsequent "huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million," etc.

Asked Pat Buchanan, "What does Rudy Giuliani think the political motive was for 9/11?" That we're too rich, too sexy?

"Ron Paul is no TV debater," Buchanan said. "But up on that stage, he was speaking intolerable truths."


June 5, 2007

Ralph R. Reiland [send him mail] is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

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