NY Times Truncated Ron Paul History Puts Libertarians in Republican Box

by | Aug 8, 2014

Liberal For Paul

As libertarians participate in a trans-ideological and trans-partisan effort that may overturn the warfare-police-surveillance state, the old media leaders seem to be taking on a mission to tame libertarianism’s adherents by defining them as mainly a subgroup in the Republican Party.

First, the Associated Press and Washington Post ran articles, respectively, in June and July absurdly portraying Libertarian Party candidates as “spoilers” for Republican candidates — as if Republican candidates have an automatic claim to the votes of people who desire to support libertarian ideas.

With August upon us, the New York Times takes its turn, publishing Thursday an article “Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?”

The Times article is open enough in its presentation of this supposed libertarian-Republican natural bond that it mentions briefly US House of Representatives Republican leadership’s consideration in 2010 of denying then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) the chairmanship of a monetary policy subcommittee in which Paul had served as ranking member under Democrat control of the House. But the article’s sanitized retelling leaves out entirely the history of the Republican leadership’s earlier successful actions to twice — in 2003 and 2005 — deny Paul a monetary policy subcommittee chairmanship.

This historical truncation related to the former libertarian representative and current RPI chairman conveniently makes more palatable the article’s message that libertarians support the Republican Party. Here, the article briefly states that message:

But not since the days of the Vietnam War and Nixon’s imperial presidency have libertarians seen much profit in an alliance with the big-government Democrats. Instead, ever since a newly inaugurated President Reagan declared, “Government is the problem,” politically practical libertarians have been more apt to cast their lot with the G.O.P.

This characterization of libertarians as bound to supporting Republican Party candidates permeates the entire article. For example, seven of the most talked about potential Republican presidential candidates are presented as potentially appealing to libertarian voters. Meanwhile, the article names no potential candidate outside of that purported libertarian electoral “home” as having any appeal to libertarians.

Like the AP and Washington Post articles, the Times article provides no real evidence to support its grand assertion. The Times and its counterparts seem to be following the tried-and-true course of repeatedly stating a false message to make it become conventional wisdom. With the rise of alternative news sources and the internet, this is a strategy that should with time be less and less successful.

The reality obvious to people familiar with Paul’s House campaigns, terms in the House, and presidential campaigns is that that the Republican Party leadership often acted to stifle Paul’s political efforts — from opposing Paul’s campaign to return to the House in 1996, to denying Paul his seniority for time served in the House in the 1970s and 80s after he won that 1996 election, to suppressing Paul presidential nomination votes at the Republican National Convention.

The Times article sanitizes this history of Republican leadership’s opposition to Paul. Instead of noting actions Republican leadership took to restrict Paul, the article mentions only how the House Republican leadership considered in 2010 denying Paul a chairmanship. As the Times article tells the story, it was just a brief bit of tenseness followed by the Republican leadership giving Paul what he wanted:

Despite the fact that Ron Paul served nearly two decades in the House and established seniority on the Financial Services Committee, in late 2010 the incoming speaker, John Boehner, reportedly sought to deny Paul a subcommittee chairmanship (owing to Paul’s views on monetary policy) before eventually buckling to the outcries of Paul supporters.

The real story is much different than the one suggested by the Times article. Unmentioned by the Times is how the Republican Party leadership went to extraordinary lengths in 2003, and again in 2005, to successfully deny Paul a monetary policy subcommittee chairmanship.

Also unmentioned is that in 2010 Paul had more seniority than Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who became chairman of the full Financial Services Committee — if you count Paul’s 1970s and 80s terms that Republican leadership selectively disregarded.

Only after the Democrats then gained a majority in the House was Paul able to first obtain a subcommittee leadership position as a ranking member — the top minority party member.

During a 2009 House Financial Services Committee meeting, the committee chairman, then-Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), explained some of the methods the Republican leadership used to twice block Paul from a subcommittee chairmanship. Frank also alludes to how Frank, after becoming chairman of the committee, made room for Paul to be a subcommittee ranking member by reestablishing the domestic monetary policy subcommittee the Republican leadership had eliminated:

Frank: … First of all, a little history is in order. Despite partisan consensus for fixing the Fed developed after the Republicans lost power, the gentleman from Texas introduced this [“Audit the Fed”] bill in 1983 and got precious little support from anybody for much of the time.

I do want to claim credit, as the chairman of the committee, for being the first one in 26 years who gave the gentleman from Texas a chance to operate this legislation.

In fact, the gentleman from Texas has acknowledged that in 2003, under Republican majorityship, he was in line to be the chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee, which promptly disappeared. It was merged into the International Monetary Policy Subcommittee for the sole reason of denying the gentleman from Texas the chairmanship.

Two years later, when they figured they couldn’t merge it into another committee, they dragooned the gentlewoman from Ohio, Ms. [Deborah D.] Pryce, who had been on leave from the committee to come back and assume a chairmanship of that combined subcommittee, once again to preempt Ron Paul who said to me quite presciently at that time, “I guess I’ll have to wait for you to be chairman to get anywhere on this.” Well, I am the chairman and he’s getting somewhere.

Now, that doesn’t mean we are in complete agreement. I will yield to the beneficiary of my chairmanship.

Paul: I thank the chairman for yielding, and I want to say that you are claiming some credit, and you deserve this credit…..


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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