Congressman Ron Paul grabbed the lion's share of headlines among GOP presidential candidates last week, and not just because he is the latest improbable figure to challenge the inevitable nomination of Mitt Romney.
The conservative Weekly Standard ran a rehash by writer James Kirchik of an article he wrote for the New Republic in 2008 that collates, to deadly effect, the astoundingly bizarre, racist, and anti-Semitic comments Paul broadcast in a series of newsletters he published for two decades. Paul implausibly claims the newsletters (written in the first person and bearing his name) were produced by others, but it really doesn't matter. The time has come, as Kirchik helpfully reminds us, to recognize Paul for what he is.
He is not -- as some disillusioned moderates and media pundits like to believe -- a refreshing, small-government Republican with a healthy distaste for Wall Street and foreign adventurism. He is a clinically paranoid (and likely bigoted) conspiracy theorist. And you don't even have to cite his newsletters to prove it.
I paid some attention to Paul's 2008 campaign, because at the time I was assigned by my newspaper to cover two of his biggest fans: Ed and Elaine Brown, a pair of New Hampshire tax cheats who engaged in a months-long standoff with the U.S. Marshals Service over the couple's refusal to pay federal income taxes. The Browns believed they lived on a sovereign enclave atop a hill in rural Plainfield, N.H., stockpiled scary weapons, and threatened violence against any federal agents who came on their property.
You would think a presidential aspirant would want to distance himself from such wackos. Not Paul, who declared in a videotaped interview that the Browns were "heroes":
Then there are Paul's oft-cited, but never less than stupefying, pronouncements on secret government plans to create a "NAFTA Superhighway" that will lead to the eventual dissolution of American sovereignty. Paul envisions -- no, really -- an unholy union of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in a single totalitarian state. As he wrote in 2006:
This superhighway would connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, cutting a wide swath through the middle of Texas and up through Kansas City. Offshoots would connect the main artery to the west coast, Florida, and northeast. Proponents envision a ten-lane colossus the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines, fiber-optic cable lines, and oil and natural gas pipelines running alongside...
The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway, but an integrated North American Union -- complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy, and virtually borderless travel within the Union. Like the European Union, a North American Union would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty altogether.