Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Passing the Buck (as usual)

With The New Republic's release of some of Ron Paul's greatest newsletter hits, we're hearing a chorus of screeching from the Ronbots -- here, there, and everywhere -- about how he didn't know what was going on, and he didn't really mean it, and besides, he was just so busy....

Paul himself made a statement earlier today repeating pretty much the same tropes:

This story is old news and has been rehashed for over a decade. It's once again being resurrected for obvious political reasons on the day of the New Hampshire primary.

“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.

I'm sorry, but no. This simply doesn't wash. I don't doubt for a moment that Paul doesn't sincerely regret the contents of over 15 years of assorted newsletters that went out under his name (he published several different ones) -- and presumably, under his ownership and for his own profit as well.

But even the most abject apology doesn't address the larger question, which is: How do people expect a man who can't exercise basic oversight for a lousy monthly newsletter to take full responsibility for the entirety of the government of the most powerful nation on earth?

Since libertarians are supposed to be all about running the government by the standards of private business, let me clue you in on how this kind of lackadaisical failure-to-pay-attention goes down in the private sector.

If somebody goes into court to get out of a contract because "My lawyer wrote it for me, and I didn't really read it, even though I did sign my name to it," the judge will rightly laugh them right out of the courtroom -- and probably award the plaintiff extra damages just for the stupidity factor.

A corporate manager who claims, "Oh, some underling of mine let that defective product out onto the market -- I wasn't really watching, so I had nothing to do with it" is still going to be out of a job so fast he'll have asphalt marks on the butt of his Brooks Brothers suit.

And if I, as a former writer of national award-winning corporate newsletters, overheard the CEO of one of my Fortune 500 client companies trying to pin something in one of those newsletters on little underpaid me, I (and everyone else) would laugh him off the dais. The fact is: my clients bought and paid for those words. They were "work for hire" -- which means the company's executives read and approved every word; and they owned those words outright, legally, practically, and morally, starting the moment my check cleared.

Paul may not have written those words, or even seen them. But he bought and paid for them -- and no doubt, he was happy to bank the handsome profit they made him. (If he's really sorry, he might demonstrate the fact by donating every cent of those profits to the NAACP.) And thus he owns them as surely as if had written them with his own hand. The only people who could accept this weak-assed excuse-making are the ones who are willing to abandon their better sense just as fast as Paul abandoned accountability for the things he published in papers he owned.

We've already had seven long years under a Texas phony who doesn't believe in any kind of accountability or oversight, and refuses to accept responsibility for his own mistakes. The very last thing this country needs is another big dose of the same Houston swampfog. If Ron Paul didn't know what was happening at his newsletters, it's damning proof that he's an incompetent manager. If he did, it's even more damning proof that he's a racist (and a liar to boot).

Either one disqualifies him for any kind of elective office (except as a representative of racists, which it's now more obvious that he is). And all that Paulbot howling aside, it's time for the rest of us to recognize that, and move on.

(And, speaking as one of the two bloggers who first warned you about this side of Paul way back seven months ago -- and have the flak wounds, including quite a few from people on our own side, to show for it -- here's the heads-up: Next time we tell you someone's a closet racist, spare us all the angst and friendly fire, and consider that we just might know what we're talking about, OK?)