Ron Paul, Rebel Without a Solution

In a previous post, I wrote that Ron Paul’s performance last week on “Meet the Press” made me think he’s been spending too much time locked in the bathroom reading Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a sort of unofficial libertarian manifesto. After receiving some angry comments, I wrote another post in which I explained in a bit more detail why I find it difficult to take the man seriously.

In that second post, I noted that Paul’s reference to former President George H.W. Bush as a “bum” strikes me as particularly silly because, like or hate him and his policies, how that industrious patrician gent resembles a “bum” is beyond me. In response, I received a comment (thanks!): “If you hate that industrious patrician gent, wouldn’t you be inclined to call him a bum?” Well, it’s hard to argue with that, I suppose. Another of the comments I received postulated that George H.W. Bush was indeed a “bum” for, among other reasons, abandoning Iraqis after Gulf War I. These remarks got me thinking.

In particular, the comment about the abandonment after Gulf War I of Iraqis who had risen up to fight Saddam Hussein was sobering (and forgive my not linking to it here – as my technical abilities are, although evolving, still a bit primitive). It is true that abandoning Iraqis who had risen up to oppose Saddam was deeply dishonorable. But I doubt that’s what Ron Paul had in mind when he called George H.W. Bush a “bum” since Ron Paul is an isolationist. Also, Ron Paul is a vociferous opponent of the Iraq War, so he obviously does not support George W. Bush’s finishing the job. In other words, he can’t legitimately at once condemn George H.W. Bush for abandoning Iraqis and George W. Bush for standing by them.

To be fair, I don’t know whether Ron Paul ever condemned George H.W. Bush for abandoning Iraqis. But in general, Paul reminds me of foreign policy liberals, who are long on condemnation, short on balanced analysis. Long before 9/11, for instance, many liberals actively protested the Taliban’s abuse of women, but do you think they would ever deign to credit George W. Bush for doing something about the Taliban? It’s not that you can’t oppose both tyranny and war, but a mature perspective requires that you acknowledge the good along with the bad in analyzing the outcome of any decision.

To foreign policy liberals and to conservatives like Paul, the actions of those with whom they disagree are universally evil, bad, suspect, and without any redeeming feature. They do not acknowledge the good – for instance, the liberation of Afghans and Iraqis – that has come out of something they oppose, and may (or may not) have been correct to oppose.

That refusal to weigh the issues is why I joked Ron Paul seems to have been locked in the bathroom for too long. There is something Rebel-Without-a-Cause-Like, something adolescent, about seeking to tear down the establishment but offering very little that’s serious in the way of alternatives.

This entry was written by and posted on December 31, 2007 at 3:29 am and filed under Blog.

12 responses to Ron Paul, Rebel Without a Solution
  • 1.

    Ayn Rand Fan

    January 1, 2008 at 11:03 pm


    I don't care about Ron Paul or what you think of him, just know that he has nothing to do with Atlas Shrugged or Ayn Rand:

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_campus_libertarians

    Ron Paul knows Ayn Rand was against him. He likes her, but she would hate him. Ron Paul is religious and is against abortion, two of many anti-Objectivist views.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjwuGHPilwI

  • 2.

    Bob

    December 31, 2007 at 2:55 pm


    Heather,

    The fact that you would blithely use the word isolationist rather than non-interventionist for Ron Paul tells me you are the one who should spend some time "reading in the bathroom". And you talk about sloppy thinking! Sure you could define him like that if you want but then you turn around and say "bum" is sloppy thinking for bush because he is a patrician!

    But your point is well taken. Bush should more properly be called a pandering shill.

  • 3.

    Duane Pye

    December 31, 2007 at 10:43 am


    In one sense, a 'bum' is a homeless person. And while W might not be homeless, the foreclosure wave he's presided over will certainly make many Americans homeless. So perhaps he qualifies as a Leader of Bums, a Bum in Chief?

    Alternately, he could have meant it in the context of taking or borrowing something with the understanding that repayment might not happen, although it would be hard to tell if this refers to habeas corpus, privacy, the doctrine of just war, or the more prosaic gutting of the US treasury.

    As far as looking for the 'bright side', you do have some glimmer of understanding that a million Iraqis have died, right? And you do understand that, if there *is* a bright side, it's hubris beyond belief to imagine, even for one second, that your ilk would be the arbiters of just how glimmering a future has been bought for the families of the dead.

  • 4.

    Christian

    December 31, 2007 at 9:34 am


    Your post made it very clear that you don't understand Ron Paul or libertarianism. You seem to think Atlas Shrugged is some kind of guide book, but you couldn't be farther from correct.

    If you want something that may clear up the fog in your head, read For a New Liberty, by Murray Rothbard. I doubt you'll read it, even though it is more of a "Libertarian Manifesto" because, well, journalists and understanding go together like lamb and tuna. Taking the time to figure something out is less important to you than saying something useless.

    -Chris

  • 5.

    Mike

    December 31, 2007 at 6:34 am


    1) Ron Paul is not an isolationist. America is more isolated than ever due to its militant involvement in the rest of the world. China trades with the entire world, but does not have a single military base outside of its territory. That is not isolationist, that is rational.

    2) Big government is very evil so Ron Paul has a right to call its greatest proponents 'bums'. Remember Bush, as head of the CIA, was responsible for the cocaine shipment via CIA planes during the Iran-Contra affair, so Ron Paul has even more right to call him a bum.

    Life expectancy went up 20.9 years from 1900 to 1950. This was a result of the Laissez Faire boom of the late 19th, early 20th century. Life expectancy went up only 8 years from 1950 to 2000. Big government doesn't work. Social Security is a failure. Government funded health care is a failure.

    Median wages have barely grown since 1971. For the 25-34 demographic, median wages are lower today than they were in 1971!

    It's time to return to peace, freedom and prosperity. No more centralized banking. No more big government military industry complex. No more costly foreign military engagements (Americans are taxed to maintain 700 military bases in over 130 countries). It's time to cut the crap and live life. Go America! Go Ron Paul!

  • 6.

    Tom

    December 31, 2007 at 6:30 am


    Were you Think-tanked? http://youtube.com/watch?v=VcJohfS4vTQ

  • 7.

    bt

    December 31, 2007 at 6:08 am


    Ron is not an isolationist, that idea has been proven wrong enough that a bit of googling can find it. Also, save the word liberated until after the wars in those two countries is over, and the dust settles. Thanks for not writing this in that angry pissy tone that antiPaul articles usually have.
    K I was looking up something about Pakistan, how did I end up here. O.o

  • 8.

    wergerver

    December 31, 2007 at 6:07 am


    just to clarify, Dr. Paul advocates a Non-Interventionist foreign policy, NOT an isolationist approach.
    Vast difference there.

    "...deign to credit George W. Bush for doing something about the Taliban?"

    i just don't even know where to start with this..

  • 9.

    ashnbell

    December 31, 2007 at 6:05 am


    George H.W. Bush a bum?
    hmmm, no comment.

    The son of a bum?
    Well, he was the son of a grave robbing nazi banker....

    google "prescott bush trading with the enemy" for confirmation og the nazi banker bit

    google "geronimo bush" for some info on my graverobber allegations.

    Google "Bush Biography Tarpley" if you'd like to read more about the bushes from an unauthorised biographer of that families fortunes (bear in mind that the author remains unsued for his work around 15 years after it was first published)

    happy reading

  • 10.

    gorak

    December 31, 2007 at 6:05 am


    He offers the alternative of a complete withdrawal from Iraq, a very similar way we ended the Vietnam war.

    In the end, all we had to do was make those choppers fly out of Saigon and it was over. It was just over.

  • 11.

    rhys

    December 31, 2007 at 4:49 am


    "...since Ron Paul is an isolationist" -Heather Robinson

    I don't think you are using isolationist correctly. Isolationism is a political foreign policy whose ends are autarky. Isolationists call for restrictive trade deals, high protective tariffs, and, if not a belligerent attitude toward foreign nations, at least an unwillingess to engage in mutual trade or normal diplomatic relations.

    Contrary to this, Paul is a non-interventionist - following more closely along the neutral foreign policy of Switzerland (they are not in the EU and didn't fight in WW2 but have mostly unrestricted trade with other nations).

    Paul's reason for embracing a non-interventionist foreign policy is to avoid problems like we now have in Iraq. We have alliances with Turkey and the Kurds, and they are fighting each other. Both are asking for our support in the conflict. This is bad for the US.

    But, just so you don't forget, you are not an isolationist if you refuse to spank your neighbor's children when they misbehave. Your a non-interventionist. If you never talk to your neighbor, your an isolationist.

  • 12.

    James Taranto

    December 31, 2007 at 3:31 am


    George H.W. Bush coulda been a contender, but it wouldn't be prudent.

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