No one writes about race and racism as sensitively as Ta-Nehisi Coates, in The Atlantic, wh addresses Paul's dilemma:-
The standard defense has generally been Paul didn't write the newsletters. I think an honest reckoning with that defense would have someone question the faculties of an adult who would allow a newsletter filled--by Paul's own admission--with bigotry to be published under one's name. Had I spent a decade stewarding an eponymous publication steeped in homophobia and anti-Semitism, I would not expect my friends and colleagues to accept an "I didn't write it"excuse. And I have no (present) designs on the launch codes. It is a peculiar thing when the basic standards of honesty and decency are lowered in direct proportion to the power one seeks to wield. This is especially true of our friends. One has a hard time imagining a President Barack Obama who had done a stint writing for, say, for The Final Call lambasting gays and Jews.
This is very true. Imagine the moral contortions the Professional Left and the intransigent Right would suffer if Barack Obama had been revealed as having lent his name to something of this magnitude. He would be political toast.
Yet no place do we hear this even being mentioned except on - shock, horror! - Fox News. And that's only because Paul doesn't fit their proper Republican war hawk narrative.
Coates reiterates what I've pointed out repeatedly - that Paul has gone from defending what was written in those letters, even to the point of disparaging anyone who disagreed, to utter denial of their content. Either way, it doesn't ring true.
Still, Paul's message for the New Milennium, wherein he finds himself in his third Presidential race, is that whatever was contained in those letters simply wasn't Paul's fault.
This doesn't change Jonathan Chait's assertion that Ron Paul is a racist. If anything, it reinforces it; and when it comes to the core of a racist's ethos, Paul is the expert in exploiting this victimology to the greatest extent. He is, after all, a politician, as Coates further explains:-
Racism, like all forms of bigotry, is what it claims to oppose--victimology. The bigot is never to blame. Always is he besieged--by gays and their radical agenda, by women and their miniskirts, by fleet-footed blacks. It is an ideology of "not my fault." It is not Ron Paul's fault that people with an NAACP view of the world would twist his words. It is not Ron Paul's fault that his newsletter trafficked in racism. It is not Ron Paul's fault that he allowed people to author that racism in his name. It is anonymous political aids and writers, who now cowardly refuse to own their words. There's always someone else to blame--as long as it isn't Ron Paul, if only because it never was Ron Paul.
This is not a particular tragedy for black people. The kind of racism which Paul trafficked is neither innovative nor original. Even his denials recall the obfuscations of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens. But some pity should be reserved for the young and disgruntled, for those who dimly perceive that something is wrong in this country, for those who are earnestly appalled by the madness of our criminal justice policy, for those who have watched a steady erosion of our civil liberties, and have seen their concerns met with an appalling silence on the national stage. That their champion should be, virtually by default, a man of mixed motives and selective courage, is sad.
Chait posited that Paul has been allowed to progress (pun intended) this far into the nomination stakes because no one in the media, Right or Left, has hit him publically with questions pertaining to the content of these newsletters and how they were allowed to be distributed under his name.
But Paul supporters take this ignorance on the part of the media as a plus sign for their candidate. Chait, however, thinks they are wrong.
Paul’s supporters seem to believe that the media ignoring him is the only thing keeping him from challenging for the Party nomination. More likely, it’s the only thing that’s allowed his candidacy to progress to this point. If more people actually understood the full scope of Paul’s fringe-right views, a huge portion of his support would peel off.
One can always live in hope, but I fear that both Coates and Chait underestimate a trait both the extreme Right and the extreme Left have in common: narrow-minded intransigence; and that's a trait in which Ron Paul revels.