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Occam’s Razor, Ron Paul edition

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, December 23, 2011 18:57 EDT
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Okay, so Rachel Maddow did a segment on Ron Paul's newsletter and the outrageous racism he spewed from it for years:

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The evidence is straightforward: These racist rants were signed by Paul, in a newsletter that claimed to be written by him. Not only that, he referred to himself in the first person during these rants, and made mention of personal details, such as where his  home is. By any reasonable measure, he wrote these things. If someone else wrote them, then they were ghost-written, and he is equally culpable. His reaction when people question him on this stuff is to deflect and basically imply that they aren't worthy to speak to the Mighty Ron Paul, the impertinent peasants. So, really, I had to flinch every time Rachel said he's "unwilling" to come up for a plausible  explanation for how these writings came into existence, if the most obvious choice—that he's just a racist crank and he wrote them—is off the table, as he demands. 

I say that he's not unwilling. He's just unable. Melissa Harris-Perry made basically that same point, though she was good at massaging the bizarre Beltway willingness to want to take Paul at his word when he said he didn't write them:

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Melissa is right, of course. Even if he didn't put pen to paper, he took credit for it, and that's all that counts. This "did he or didn't he?" crap is silly.

But I must insist that the charade generally end. Paul's deflections are weird and half-assed. The whole debate over whether he has racism in his heart or just a pen is strange. I think of themyriad possibilities of how those viciously racist rants got into his newsletters, one stands out as far more likely than the rest: Ron Paul is a racist crank who wrote that stuff because he believed it. Being from Texas myself, I have met his type over and over and over again, and this strikes me as not only a plausible explanation, but the most plausible. Look, he's currently running ads where he claims that abortion providers threw dead babies in baskets, whatever that means. That paranoid fantasy correlates nicely with these racist paranoid fantasies. If I were to break it down to percentiles of likelihood, this is what I see:

*Chance that Paul didn't write it, didn't know who wrote it, didn't read it, and was unaware of what was in the newsletter: .1%

*Chance that Paul had someone who knows him really well ghost-write it, but wasn't aware of what was in it: .9%

*Chance that someone ghost-wrote it with Paul's blessing and knowledge: 3%

*Chance that Paul secretly believes all races are equal, but was just wanking off to appeal to the racist voters of his district: 1%

*Chance that Paul is a racist crank who wrote every word in his rants where he refers to himself as "I" and mentions his house and other personal details: 95%

I'm sure someone better with statistics could break it out better, but I don't imagine that their numbers would be far off mine. So can we stop treating all possibilities as equal?

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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