Columnist-to-the-World Mark Steyn and I chat on air almost every week. The transcript of those interviews are always posted, both at HughHewitt.com and SteynOnline.com. Here’s a lengthy excerpt from yesterday’s conversation about Ron Paul, which begins as I play a tape of a question asked of the would-be Iowa upset winner about 9/11:
Q: Okay, and one more question. Why don’t you come out and tell the truth about 9/11?
RP: Well, I can’t handle the controversy. I have the IMF, the Federal Reserve to deal with, the IRS to deal with, because no, I just have more, too many things on my plate, because I just have too much to do.
HH: “Why won’t you come out on 9/11? Ron Paul?” He has too much controversy, Mark Steyn, too many things on his plate. What do you think about that?
MS: Yeah, I mean, that is a very cowardly answer. One of the rare occasions on which I’ve applauded Bill Clinton was 2008, four years ago. He was in Keene, New Hampshire, and some Ron Paul supporter asked him about the truth about 9/11 being an inside job. And Clinton slapped that guy down, as he well should have. This, by the way, is not an irrelevant thing, because it gets to the heart, to the most disfiguring aspect of Ron Paul’s campaign, leaving aside his unpleasantness to Michele Bachmann the other night, and all the rest of it, which is this stunted parochialism. Let’s say, for a moment, that 9/11 was an inside job. Does that also mean, then, that the Bali nightclub bombing was an inside job, that the Madrid train bombings was an inside job, that the Beslan school shootings were an inside job, that the London Tube bombings were an inside job? Because in that case, that’s one hell of a sum to be hiding somewhere within the darkest recesses of Dick Cheney’s non-specific line items. So we’re getting here into what is the problem with Ron Paul, which is the sheer stupid, half-witted parochialism of his view of what’s going on out in the planet. And that’s why this is so pathetic. This is a kind of utopian isolationism that fantasists on the right have embraced. And at its darkest side, it meets the left coming round the other way in 9/11 truther conspiracy theories.
HH: Now can someone, do you think it’s right for someone to go to the Iowa Caucus and say I agree with Ron Paul on the Fed, so I’m going to put aside this nuttery, and I’m going to ignore his newsletters, and I’m going to ignore his other baffling and incoherent positions on issuing letters of mark and reprisals and all the rest of it because I want to make a statement? Is that a right way to conduct yourself, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well you know, a couple of weeks ago, I would have been inclined to that view, because four years ago, for example, when he was talking about the Federal Reserve, a lot of people thought it was kooky. Four years on, when for most of this year, the Fed has been buying 70% of U.S. Treasury debt, you begin to think well hang on, maybe all this incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo about fiat currencies, he may actually be on to something here. And I would have been fine for people to go along in saying well you know, if I could detach domestic issues from foreign policy, this is my guy. But actually, when a guy says, you know, he signs off on a Martin Luther King had sex with underage boys, and then he says oh, I don’t know how that got into my newsletter, it must be some unpaid intern, I mean, if, for example, at www.steynonline.com, or www.hughhewitt.com, a statement to the effect that Martin Luther King was having sex with underage buys appeared, and you or I said oh, we’ve no idea how that got up there, I’m a busy chap, can’t possibly be expected to take note of everything that appears there, whether you believe me or not, you would at least have been had it confirmed to you that if I can’t run even a small, modest publishing enterprise, I shouldn’t be entrusted with the government of the United States. He’s basically said the buck doesn’t stop here.
So the recent unhinging of Ron Paul from even his already distant shore –calling Michele Bachmann a hater of Muslims, indulging the vile truther nuttery—these are positions that attach to people about to vote for Ron Paul, to those souls about to stand up for him in the Iowa caucuses or pull the lever for him in New Hampshire or beyond.
That is the way it works and has to work. When you vote for a candidate, you vote for all of his or her positions. You accept the moral responsibility for the working out of their platform in practice.
Pro-life voters have long known that they cannot accept the candidate who says they are for the poor but also for the right of a woman to choose.
Pro-Second Amendment rights voters have long known they cannot accept the otherwise perfect free market, strong defense conservative who asserts that the Second Amendment was intended to apply to militias.
Some folks are single-issue voters, which doesn’t mean they care only about a single issue, but that for them one issue dominates their political evaluations. They cannot be expected to vote against that set of policies.
Pro-American voters cannot vote for Ron Paul because he has now put on full display his dark assessment of the Republic, every bit as paranoid and accusation-filled as the most adamant 9/11 Truther. It is in my mind disqualifying for high office of any sort to indulge these fanatics, and that is what he did.
He might be more than an enabler of the truthers –he might believe as many of them do that the American government brought down the Towers a decade ago killing 3,000 Americans. Or perhaps he believes the Jews did it, or the Bilderbergers.
No matter. He did not denounce the fever so we have to assume he believes the fever has a legitimate source or that he himself has the fever.
So go ahead and vote for him because he is for an audit of the Fed or because he can recite a paragraph or two from the Constitution; because he makes you feel part of the anti-D.C. gang or just because you like quirky.
You are signing your name to a petition of extremism and paranoia. It is an act that cannot be undone, like a pro-lifer who sends contributions to an activist who also attracts the support of one that movement’s very rare violent extremists. Joining yourself to Ron Paul now quite obviously means joining yourself to Truthers. Enjoy the party.