"Rep. Paul's ideas are so extreme that no sensible voter would give him a second look if it wasn't for the Uncle Fuzzy persona," HuffPo columnist Andrew Reinbach warned his readers in a July 5 article entitled "President Ron Paul? Ron Paul and the John Birch Society." Reinbach then listed some of Rep. Ron Paul's substantial economic libertarian and constitutionalist credentials.
How extreme is Ron Paul? Well, Reinbach claims he's "a very close ally" of The John Birch Society. Reinbach asks: "Where did Rep. Paul get these ideas? Well, mostly from the seed bank of the John Birch Society. While he's not a member, he's been close to it since at least the 1970s."
The genesis of this kind of left-wing partisan alarmism, in a column that straddles the gap between comedy and tedium, is a burgeoning movement among peace-loving Democrats and liberals of the Dennis Kucinich stripe who are flirting with voting for Ron Paul in 2012, even at liberal-dom's Web flagship, the Huffington Post. In another HuffPo column, Robin Koerner, after the obligatory (and entirely justified) Bush-bashing, made the case for Democrats and leftists to support Ron Paul in a July 7 column entitled "If You Love Peace, Become a 'Blue Republican' (Just for a Year)":
Obama 1) conducts wars against countries that do not threaten us (e.g. Libya, Yemen, etc.), 2) oversees large financial benefits to companies with which those in his administration were close (e.g. Goldman Sachs), 3) supports the legal framework for riding roughshod over the liberties of private individuals who are not suspected of crime (e.g. Patriot Act), and 4) is growing a massive federal apparatus to carry out such intrusions on innocent Americans in what is becoming a police state (e.g. domestic wiretapping, TSA etc.).... I'm having difficulty seeing how a Democrat who voted for Obama (whom I supported) for the right reasons in 2008 can in good conscience do so again given that there is another candidate who has been consistent in his opposition to all of these things — not just in words but in deeds.
A new "Democrats for Ron Paul" Facebook page has even been created, in part as a reaction to Obama not fulfilling his promises as the peace candidate in 2008. So perhaps it's not surprising that the alarm bells are ringing in the partisan halls of the Huffington Post with the command to destroy Ron Paul.
Naturally, the first step in the smear process is to call up Chip Berlet of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Political Research Associates: "'Ron Paul may not be a member of the John Birch Society, but you need a micrometer to tell them apart,' says Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates who's been tracking the JBS and other right wing groups for years." Of course, the John Birch Society's motto is "less government, more responsibility, and — with God's help — a better world." And Ron Paul believes in God, less government and more personal responsibility. So the two must be allied.
Step two is to seek multiple gains in the smear by trying to stigmatize the entire Tea Party movement by linking it to the "bad" group, in this case The John Birch Society: "It's not just a sobering speech for anyone without far-right sympathies; it almost sounds sensible — a clear indication of just how deeply JBS ideas have penetrated the American mainstream. The JBS is pretty obscure today, partly by choice." But Reinbach notes that the JBS is the secret force behind the Tea Party. "In recent years the JBS has played a major — and acknowledged — role in the Tea Party, which is better known for being funded by the likes of the Koch Brothers." Of course, the JBS has had a role in formation of the Tea Party, just as Ron Paul did, along with half a dozen other sometimes conflicting and independent interests.
Step three in the smear process is the most essential: Smear the targeted group with which you want to tie to Ron Paul. And Reinbach says John Birch Society is crazy by repeating an old falsehood: "How crazy the JBS was in the old days bears repeating. They didn't just insist President Eisenhower was a Communist agent; they believed the world is in the grip of what Berlet's employer, Political Research Associates, calls '... an unbroken ideologically-driven conspiracy linking the Illuminati, the French Revolution, the rise of Marxism and Communism, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the United Nations.'"
Of course, The John Birch Society never called Eisenhower a communist agent, though on a number of occasions it said Eisenhower was not a communist agent. And Berlet's summation of the John Birch Society's philosophy is so over-simplified that it sounds like a cartoon. But that is, of course, the intent. Reinbach and Berlet want a cartoonish straw-man to knock down.
Indeed, the John Birch Society does believe conspiracies promote big government and globalism, even conspiracies that have cooperated over generations. This is not shocking, and these days efforts to promote global socialism are so openly admitted that they barely qualify as a conspiracy at all (because conspiracies require secrecy). Consider the remarks by former Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Director David Rockefeller in his 2002 book Memoir:
For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
You can say a lot of things about such a statement. But what you can't say is that talk about a conspiracy back in the 1960s was balderdash, as many of the "conspirators" themselves now openly admit to plotting an end to U.S. sovereignty and a global socialist government.
The funniest part of Reinbach's column is where he quotes some confused guy named Robert W. Benjamin who posted a comment on one of Paul's websites about Freemasons, the Lucifer Trust, and the Illuminati:
In June, 2009, for instance, somebody calling himself Robert W. Benjamin wrote on the website of Rep. Paul's Campaign for Liberty about how the "satanic" Rothschild family, operating through the Illuminati (allegedly based on the teaching of the Talmud), took over the Freemasons and now controls the so-called Lucifer Trust, supposedly financed by the Rockefeller Foundation.
This, apparently, is the lynchpin of evidence that ties Paul to the Birch Society and wacky ideas. I served 13 years on the John Birch Society's research department staff, 10 years as Director of Research, and I have never heard of Benjamin. But somehow Reinbach thinks a person is tied to anyone who posts a comment on his website. Who was Robert W. Benjamin? Andrew Reinbach didn't know, or at least he didn't say. And when you're scribbling out a cartoon, it really doesn't matter.
I submitted a response comment to Reinbach's HuffPo column that was included the following:
Oh my gosh! I just realized that I — a life member of the John Birch Society — posted on Andrew Reinbach's website. (I never realized you had John Birch Society ties, Andrew ... tsk, tsk!)
Of course, my comment was edited out of the Huffington Post, after being "pending" for two days. I'm tempted to quip: "Curses, foiled again by the brilliance of Andrew Reinbach! I guess he doesn't have any John Birch Society ties after all." But there was no brilliance in Reinbach's rambling wreck of a column. He goes on to write — seemingly endlessly — about laetrile and how the JBS both supports and "condemned" laetrile (the truth is more nuanced, as the JBS takes no positions on science and says the federal government shouldn't either) and about how Dr. Larry McDonald (a Congressman and JBS chairman) in the 1970s took guns as barter in lieu of cash for medical services with patients after filling out all the legal firearms paperwork. None of this relates to Ron Paul, and none of it reflects poorly on the JBS or even is relevant to the JBS today.
The only question that remains after reading Reinbach's column is: Who would ever bother to read his writing again after such rambling, factual inaccuracies, and muddled reasoning?
Photo: Ron Paul