The world of politics is a snarly snakepit of danger and insufferable media hokum where a candidate’s every word, action and nuance throughout his life are susceptible to being dredged up, twisted, and smeared by those who oppose him, especially if the opposition is the establishment. To enter such a perilous arena requires the courage of a tightrope walker and a skin as thick as a crocodile. Not an easy combine to come by. I watch Ron Paul taking on this torture chamber, and I’m amazed at the fortitude required, to say nothing of the integrity.
Yet neophyte, lefty libertarians (preening so with pronouncements on Paul’s “integrity credentials”) blast him because he has a few tiny stains on his garb after a lifetime of endeavor in this torturous political world.
To put this another way, political engagement as a constitutionalist in Washington is like embarking on the boat trip Bogart and Hepburn took in The African Queen. The slightest miscalculation will bring one crashing into the jagged rocks of scandal. The only difference is that the jagged rocks threatening Bogart and Hepburn were natural. The scandals threatening a challenger of today’s establishment are manufactured by its media henchmen if they can find even a semblence of an opening.
To navigate this river, one certainly needs an abundance of character. But one needs something else also, which is money. No one makes it without the green. Now over a lifetime of navigating the river, it appears that on occasion Ron Paul did not exactly pick Mother Theresas to lend his name to in order to assure continued recognition among big conservative donors. So let me get this straight. Because Paul failed to sufficiently divorce himself from a few tough-talking “racial nasties” who were trying to play H.L. Mencken in a newsletter published under Paul’s name 15 years ago, we are supposed to now abandon him? This is a horrendous sin? No, I don’t think so. This is simply the crude arena of politics. Politics is not a charming game of croquet on a manicured lawn during a balmy spring evening in the Hamptons. It is Uglyville in a raging hailstorm that one has to brave as winter descends.
I doubt there is a politician out there who has the “integrity credentials” of Ron Paul, and certainly not one who understands the political-economic forces in today’s America that threaten to destroy what few vestiges of sanity and freedom we have left. So please, all young pup, lefty libertarians — lighten up. Your moral gravity lectures are aimed at such inconsequential targets here. We old timers have seen your kind before prancing through your 20s and 30s, spewing out naïve exhortations about the world of politics — as if political campaigns can be fought on the high moral plain where ivory tower theorizing is conducted.
Those who deal in the conveyance of words and ideas don’t have to depend on a massive influx of steady cash in order to continue playing on their field of endeavor. Politicians do. And if they succumb to an occasional hobnobbing with crude, uncultured humans so as to attain financial viability, then we old timers simply overlook it as long as rights are not being violated and such hobnobbing is not viciously repetitive.
You see, we know that all men are born into this world with a drive for self-preservation that can never be molded into a priestly persona. We old pros know that the measure of a man’s mettle in politics is not how pristine his life has been, for men can never be perfect. The measure of a man’s mettle in politics is how courageously resilient he is in face of the endless cant, sophistry, and smear tactics that come with combat in the arena. If his moral lapses are miniscule and his freedom achievements are profound, then this man is a leader that we need to reckon with.
A Modern Day Cincinnatus
In a 2003 article I did on Ron Paul, I wrote the following:
“Times of great crisis in history are usually the crucible from which nations form new leaders and new visions. Such leaders seem to just suddenly appear often out of nowhere to alter the national path pursued, to cleanse the old ways, and stake out a saner, more just means of living and governing.
“Is it God, destiny, fate that are somehow at work to bring about a saving metamorphosis in which some visionary soul rises to the occasion to stir the passions of the people and bring about a righting of the ship? Whatever the force may be, our country is in dire need of its power today.
“If such a force is at work in history, I pray that it is exerting some heady pressure upon the one politician in Washington who has never been a politician. That man is Congressman Ron Paul from the 14th District in Texas who has always been a throwback to the original ‘citizen statesman’ that the Founders promoted as the ideal type of leader for the Republic they had formed.
“It is said that the Founders modeled their ‘citizen statesman’ after the example of Cincinnatus of Rome…. Well, we have a modern day Cincinnatus right now among us. Off and on over the past three decades, he has been serving the Republic that the Founding Fathers gave us, rather than the unlimited Democracy into which the socialists have transformed us. He bills himself as the ‘Taxpayers Best Friend,’ and he backs it up with a myriad of brave cost cutting measures…. Ron Paul stands like a majestic oak of clarity and sanity in defense of the American ideal. His watchword is ‘steadfast adherence to principle.’ Compromise if need be on the means of implementation. But never on the principle itself. Never on the Constitution. Never on the rights of man.”
Americans haven’t had a presidential aspirant of this caliber since Goldwater in ’64 and Taft in ’52. Yet our young pup, lefty libertarians proclaim themselves “so disappointed in Paul” because his editorial scrutiny over hundreds (perhaps thousands) of associates throughout the past 30 years allowed a few intellectual ruffians to slip past the gate.
Cincinnatus helped to save the Roman Republic in his day. Ron Paul is his modern likeness. Only he can unify the divergent factions in the freedom movement to make it a cohesive power strong enough to actually have an impact. We older, conservative libertarians look at the callow “chirping sectaries” among the leftist libertarians, and we recoil in astonishment at their naivety, their dearth of understanding as to priorities, their utter ignorance about the imperfect nature of man.
We confront today an almost insurmountable enemy in the liberal / neocon empire. In this fight we do not need dilettante moralists with cherubic faces flexing their 30 year old cerebrums, so untested in the dangerous rivers that comprise life and politics in the modern day. Such dilettantes need to see the big picture. Most importantly they need to get off their pompous high horses. Life has just begun to teach them about their own imperfections in face of life’s convoluted intractabilities.
Modern politics is a Machiavellian game of contemptible compromises and corruption from which no participant can stay aloof. One can only attempt to stay afloat in this cesspool until one can garner enough votes and name recognition to make a difference in the nation’s destiny. Most politicians learn to like the contemptible game and forget about trying to clean it up. Not Ron Paul, though. His entire life has been spent toward ridding us of this game and its corruption by restoring the country to its original ideals.
Such a cause requires an internal toughness that young people can’t even begin to understand. It also requires much money and unfortunately a certain measure of callousness about who donates it. Because of our natures, there will always be imperfections in even the lofty eagles. Ron Paul is as lofty an eagle as there is out there. That the dilettantes have lost their fervor for him because he unknowingly let racial ribaldry slip into an occasional newsletter penned by some associates in years’ past is such a petty imperfection to get one’s shorts twisted in a knot over. Wake up and grow up is the message that lefty libertarians need to grasp.
Our cause can never be to condone the “politically correct ritual” that the Jamie Kirchicks and Jessie Jacksons on the left are trying so noxiously to ram down our throats. That many of the young pups in the freedom movement patronize this leftist ritual is not a good sign for the cause of freedom. The tides of history have a way of sweeping causes populated by herd thinkers into the dust bin of obscurity, and the PC crowd is a pitiful herd indeed. “Choosing the right priorities” is the lesson here. This means that small imperfections in a politician’s judgment are NOT the enemy at which to aim our guns. The tyrannical usurpation of man’s rights via income taxation, monetary inflation, and arrogant militarization are the enemies. Priorities for god’s sake! If we don’t get them right, the freedom movement is doomed.