District of Corruption

Varieties of Smear

In electronic conversations Tom Piatak, Grant Havers, and I attempted to figure out why Jonah Goldberg posted his recent idiocy, proclaiming the Civil Rights Act to be a bulwark of economic freedom and scolding Rand Paul as an ally of Southern bigots. One not necessarily wrong but insufficient reason for this rambling diatribe is that Jonah is an incoherent suck-up, like Ross Douthat and David Frum, someone who fawns on the liberal establishment when he's not posing as its critic. Significantly, Douthat and Goldberg both began their tirades against Rand Paul by saying reasonable things: in one case that Ron and Rand Paul may have been influenced by paleoconservative associations; and in Goldberg's case, that Rand Paul was expressing reservations about the scope of the Civil Rights Act once held by perfectly respectable statesmen. The two columns then lurch off into vitriolic attacks on Rand Paul, linking him to racism, anti-Semitism and other obscene practices. Needless to say, the allegations are never proved, and the minicon attack dogs rely on broad accusations, which obviously play well with the (predominantly Jewish) liberal media.

But without denying that the gratuitous attacks are intended to accommodate the media establishment, it seems to me that there is more at stake here. I can't imagine that anyone but engaged leftists and civil rights lobbyists would care much about Paul's critical thoughts from a distance of many decades about the Civil Rights Act, given the fact that, as Goldberg admits, the act is not likely to be revoked. Paul's objection, moreover, was painfully qualified, as Goldberg explains in the first half of his column.            

Why aren't Goldberg's own rants against FDR and the entire new Deal seen as more controversial, given the fact that his neocon masters are ardent fans of the "democratic capitalist welfare state" that one of their favorite presidents helped create? In fact while listening yesterday to Glenn Beck's program on FOX, I heard scalding indictments of many things near and dear to neocon hearts, starting with Wilson's success in pushing us into World War One, the subsequent persecution of German Americans, and then the ill treatment of Germans, Italians, and Japanese Americans on American soil after the U.S.'s entry into the Second War.  For years I've been encountering passionate, repeated defenses of all these actions in The Weekly Standard and in other organs of neocon agitprop. Why are Goldberg and Beck allowed to disagree on historical mythology with the master class, while the hapless Paul gets whacked over the head for murmuring some veiled criticism of Titles II and VII? Was Rand Paul's faux pas in telling us how the Civil Rights Act has restricted our economic and social freedom so shocking that the neocon establishment had to lay him out? I think not.

What was really happening was explained by Charles Krauthammer on FOX on the eve of the Kentucky primary. According to Krauthammer, "Rand Paul, like his father, is really quirky." The reasons for this judgment were that the father and now the son dispute the need for the Federal Reserve, and both hold "whacky" views, that is, non-authorized ones, on foreign policy, and especially on the war against terror. Middle Eastern policy more than anything else is what drives the neocons. Their hawkishness is principally what sets them apart, at least in degree, from their liberal associates. Therefore having a Republican celebrity in the Senate, who differs from positions the neocons have enshrined, could interfere with their continued guidance of the GOP as national defense experts and global democratic visionaries.  

That is not to say that from his isolated, diffuse statements on non-economic questions, it is clear that Rand Paul represents such a threat. But why take chances, if the minicons can bring down this deviationist before he advances any further? Calling him a racist, anti-Semite, and defender of Southern bigotry will do for this purpose as well as any other stick.