Over at Reason today, Julian Sanchez and David Weigel do some further investigating and come to this conclusion:
Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists and taking "moral responsibility" for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past acknowledging who said what, and why. Otherwise he risks damaging not only his own reputation, but that of the philosophy to which he has committed his life.Question: what's the difference between a "racist" and someone who was "complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists"? Nothing, as far as I can tell, except that at least the former is bit more honest about things.
So as damning as everyone thinks this stuff is, I think it's even more damning than that. We're not children here, after all. It's plain that Paul knew what was being published in his newsletters. It's plain that he was familiar with the well-developed strategy that inspired the early-90s turn to racist demagoguery. It's plain that he knew it was a key part of his fundraising appeal. Paul can weasel all he wants, but it's plain that he endorsed a strategy of overt appeals to racist sentiment in order to build support for his political career. If he's given all that up since then, it's only because he no longer needs it.
This whole affair highlights one of the reasons that I wish everyone would stop swooning over minor candidates who play the part of bold truthteller. When you have no chance of winning and therefore nothing to risk, it's cheap and easy to stick to your guns. But as Ron Paul has shown, back when it actually mattered he was willing to do whatever he needed to raise money and rekindle his political career. I don't doubt that he'd do it again if anything serious were on the line.
POSTSCRIPT: This is also why adults should stop taking fruitcakes seriously. A guy who's a loopy conspiracy theorist today was probably a loopy conspiracy theorist yesterday, just with different conspiracies. It's only a matter of digging them up.