What is interesting is Paul’s idea that the identity of the person who did write those lines is “of no importance.” Paul never deals in disavowals or renunciations or distancings, as other politicians do. In his office one afternoon in June, I asked about his connections to the John Birch Society. “Oh, my goodness, the John Birch Society!” he said in mock horror. “Is that bad? I have a lot of friends in the John Birch Society. They’re generally well educated, and they understand the Constitution. I don’t know how many positions they would have that I don’t agree with. Because they’re real strict constitutionalists, they don’t like the war, they’re hard-money people. . . . ”
I think it is perhaps worth remembering that one of William F. Buckley's best achievements in the history of modern conservatism was the expulsion of the John Birch Society from the ranks of acceptable conservatism. I'm not surprised at Ron Paul's embrace of it given that he exists in the political fringe, but I also find it nothing short of amazing that Mark, who repeatedly bemoans the current GOP's abandonment of traditional conservatism, is willing to throw away more than 50+ years of work in a warped effort to reintegrate the fringe into the mainstream. This is one of the things that happened to the Democrats in 1972 and they've been paying for it ever since.
Possibly the most depressing thing I've read this week are these words:
(interrupted by applause)
Why? Because they say everything there is to say about the the way in which alleged "conservatism" has bankrupted itself.
Here is a man who will completely sell the farm on every matter from Abortion
to Embryonic Stem Cell Research to Euthanasia to Same-Sex Marriage.
Yet because--not "in spite of"--*because* he declares his enthusiasm for torture (when invited by the FOX Torture Cheerleader to do so), alleged conservatives cheer wildly.
I think calling Brit Hume a "torture cheerleader" is one of the cheapest shots that I've seen Mark take yet. If Hume has made his position on torture available to the general public, I am completely unaware of it and I strongly suspect that Mark is as well. It's a cheap shot that adds nothing to the discussion but lets him sink into yet more hyperbole and feel self-righteous while doing so. In the end, I think, that's all that matters.
As for Giuliani, while he certainly supports everything that is anathema to social conservatives, he generally doesn't do so loudly and public opinion polls show that a majority of would-be voters are simply unaware of these positions. I think that at least some of the blame here rests upon elements of the conservative commentariat, who have in large part succumbed to what is essentially a cult of personality concerning the man. I think that a lot of that is also Bush's fault, as he is such a political eunuch at present that many conservatives are now looking for someone, anyone to deliver them from their current plight.
The claim that Giuliani is currently doing well in the polls because of his views on torture is a complete counter-factual. To begin with, support for what Mark regards as torture is widespread across the GOP candidates (a fact that he has noted on occasion when he wishes to castigate the party), so if it just torture that is pushing Giuliani where he is today I would love to see him demonstrate why Giuliani is benefiting and not the other candidates. Especially since, if torture really is all that Giuliani has then one would assume that he would be in a pretty tight spot when all the other candidates started stealing his issue. But that's a factual matter and facts are frequently in short supply at Mark's these days.
The only person to call all this tergiversation and bullshit "Orwellian" is also the main person, in the new Bizarro GOP, to be marginalized as the crazy uncle in the attic. Happily, he appears to be unphased, and is becoming an increasing threat to the Power Brokers.
Ron Paul had marginalized himself as a fringe figure long before he declared his current presidential candidacy. Call it conviction if you like, but it is far from his opposition to torture and the Iraq war that has made him the GOP's crazy uncle in the attic. Mark is either extremely ignorant of the positions of a man he now seems determined to stand by come hell or high water or just ignores it to make a factually untrue rhetorical point. As the New York Times piece makes clear, he was marginalized years ago.
And speaking of conspiracies, I see Mark is now back to his view that American democracy is just a sham controlled by nameless but powerful oligarchs. Perhaps one day he'll even go as far as this Paul supporter:
Victor Carey, a 45-year-old, muscular, mustachioed self-described “patriot” who wears a black baseball cap with a skull and crossbones on it, drove up from Sykesville, Md., to show his support for Paul. He laid out some of his concerns. “The people who own the Federal Reserve own the oil companies, they own the mass media, they own the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, they’re part of the Bilderbergers, and unfortunately their spiritual practices are very wicked and diabolical as well,” Carey said. “They go to a place out in California known as the Bohemian Grove, and there’s been footage obtained by infiltration of what their practices are. And they do mock human sacrifices to an owl-god called Moloch. This is true. Go research it yourself.”
Just remember that those black helicopters are on "whisper" mode so you won't hear them coming until they're already gone ...