Libertarian Leadership

I am starting to think that the message Ron Paul wants to send is that leadership under a Libertarian is best described as, “I didn’t personally do it, so you can’t blame me!”

First, we have the newsletter debacle. He made money off of them, and he signed his name to the mailers, and he knows who was writing them, but refuses to name them. But since he says that he didn’t actually pen the words, he has no responsibility to be held accountable for things printed under his name and in his business.

Now, we have the Twitter crap. What Twitter crap? Well, Ron Paul now says he can’t be held accountable for things published on his verified campaign Twitter account.

When pressed about the fact that the message was sent under his official Twitter handle, Paul said, “I have some help on tweeting,” and continued to dismiss the whole episode as “irrelevant.”

When a former colleague posted this on Facebook, a jokester decided to give us some insight into Ron Paul’s leadership style in the White House: “‎I have some help with the missiles. Someone else launched that one. I wasn’t involved.”

If people are serious about a libertarian message, these missteps should be alarm bells blaring very loudly. I do realize that you can’t blame a candidate for every bad decision an underling makes, but the candidate still needs to step up and accept responsibility for the problem. A real leader would also explain whether they have actually addressed the problem. Personal responsibility doesn’t mean an end to leadership, especially when you’re running for the White House.

57 thoughts on “Libertarian Leadership”

  1. He also didn’t say anybody was terminated for the overstep.

    So he didn’t do it, so he can’t be responsible, but the person responsible serves at his pleasure, and likely still does. He’s responsible for that.

    Same goes for the news letter, he’s not Responsible for writing the racist articles, but he sure was responsible for publishing them.

    Just because somebody says a few things I like doesn’t mean they aren’t incompetent.

    That being said, I’ll be voting for him in the Primary, and likely Obama in the general, because incompetence is the order of the day.

      1. Yes. It’s completely disrespectful to an opponent, and it outright mocks GOP voters. That’s not an attitude that will win a campaign.

        1. “Disrespectful”? I thought it was pretty fucking funny. Huntsman blows. The man couldn’t be troubled to break a 1000 votes in the first round.

          1. Considering Huntsman skipped Iowa, that’s not a shock. While you may be fine with such petty attacks, I much prefer a leader who can man up and behave like a mature person when faced with challenges. Make all the jokes you want off the public radar, but once you take such immaturity public, it becomes a sign of your leadership style. If that’s the kind of diplomacy (both political & foreign) you’d like in the White House, then you have your guy. Some of us would prefer to have adults in charge.

            1. Oh please. “Maturity” in politics? That’s a laugh.

              The fact that people take the farce that is our political system seriously is quite a laugh for me. What American needs and what America deserves are two wholly different things, and we really do get what we deserve…

  2. I don’t get it. He owned up to the news letter thing and explained his thoughts on the matter. What more do you want?

    As for the twitter thing… I feel like that’s grasping for straws here. Seems to be a perfectly reasonable response, especially given the level of involvement of his staff with his campaign.

    I can understand if folks don’t like someone for their viewpoint and ideological stances, but to get hung up on this crap (twitter messages or the whatnot) is a bit infantile and really useless to discuss.

    1. He hasn’t owned up to the newsletters. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know who wrote them, when he knows damn well who was working for him. It’s that he refuses to hold accountability for anything done in his name. It’s like Obama saying that nothing done in his administration can be attributed to him at all because he personally didn’t do it. That’s not how it works. Leadership means holding yourself and the organization you choose to build accountable.

      Like I said, the philosophy he’s espousing with these absurd denials of any accountability actually mean very bad things for government. The joker who gave the example of the missiles isn’t far off.

      1. He has owned up to them. Several times. I don’t see why ‘owning up’ to something also means throwing someone else onto the altar of public admonishment. It’s much ado about nothing and almost as pathetic as the whole ‘Obama Birth Certificate’ fiasco.

        He admitted that the writings were in his name and that he was ultimately responsible for them. He also plainly stated that he doesn’t share those beliefs. So what more do you want?

        It’s not like he was hanging out with Bill Ayers or something…

        1. And I don’t believe that the media should have ignored the Bill Ayers problem with Obama, either. If people fundamentally important to the organization you choose to build (in this case, the newsletters & the campaign; for Obama, Ayers’ involvement in his early campaign) are saying and doing these horrible things, then it’s fair to assume the person who built the organization with that person in it has similar views, especially when they refuse to deny otherwise at the time the association happened. Paul was clearly perfectly fine with these newsletters for years. Only when he would no longer personally gain from being in power did he say anything to dispute the content.

          1. The problem with superfluous crap like this is that it really amounts to nothing of substance when debating the actual issues at hand. Everyone has skeletons in the closet. Stupid stuff that they said, people hung out with in the past. Even if you can draw some connections between words uttered or written 20+ years ago or who they hung out with, it really makes no matter.

            I mean, with the newsletters, you’re essentially hung up on about 8-10 sentences that were written by some intellectual clod (certainly not Ron Paul), 20 years ago… when you have the man’s Congressional career to dissect, his books that he’s written, and even his investment strategy (i.e. Gold)

            Seems like tweets and newsletters are small fry to hang on any political candidate and simply distracts you from the issues at hand.

            You obviously don’t like the guy for reasons far and beyond his policy, and offer nothing of substance to counter his actual political views. It’s completely insane to read this on a pro-gun blog, when the most pro-gun/small gov’t of all the candidates is the ‘bad guy’ and some crazy religious guy from PA or a Martha’s Vineyard Republican are somehow much ‘better’ choices.

            1. Wait, let me get this straight. You’re arguing that as a voter, I shouldn’t question Ron Paul’s leadership style based on the lack of accountability in his business publications for profit or the lack of responsibility for his campaign organization. However, as a voter, I should vote for him based on his personal wealth investment strategy? Pardon me as I find humor in that logic.

              As for his Congressional career, I do believe a big part of that history is best described as pork. Most of the defenses I’ve seen of it are that everyone else is doing it, so he feels an obligation to his constituents to do it as well. If that’s the case, then that also points to a lack of leadership on the issue of federal spending.

              1. You’re the one basing your opinions of a man based on a few sentences in a penny newsletter and a ‘tweet’. While those are things to be considered, you have a considerable wealth of information regarding other aspects of his political career, his ideology, and how he handles his personal life (investments) to base a decision on. Frankly, people say Ron Paul’s proposed policies are a huge load of potential failure… if true, then why not stick to that? Seems like there is plenty of material there to discuss in addition to the rest of his life’s work. But no, let’s get hung up on the small stuff in the meantime…

                Don’t worry though. In 20 years, we’ll be dissecting the candidate’s facebook profiles from today and seeing all sorts of crap written on their walls and posted in their galleries. Sure, it really doesn’t mean much in how they would run the country, but it sure makes for good cable news punditry. God help them if they have to explain any of that when the time comes to run for office.

              2. Perhaps you missunderstand the nature of ‘earmarks’…

                To pick numbers out of the air, imagine that the Fed budget is 100 billion dollars, with earmarks for projects in multiple districts. If those earmarks disappear, the budget is STILL 100 billion dollars. But now the Executive can spend the money wherever he wants.

                Doctor Paul votes against the bloated budget, then tries to get as much of THE PEOPLE’S money back to them as he can. It’s THEIR MONEY after all!

                1. Romney is for abortion before he was against it and bans “assault weapons,” Santorum says there’s no right to privacy in the U.S. and so gay acts should be banned in people’s homes, Newt thinks thumbprint databases for gun owners are a good idea, they all want to blow up Iran if they look at us funny, we’re going to have a 16-trillion-dollar debt by election time, but hey, let’s focus on a Paul staffer tweeting something impolite.

  3. I cannot imagine Ron Paul winning the primary, but Obama will certainly destroy this country in a second term (if it isn’t too late). President Ron Paul might destroy this country, but he is the syphilitic camel; removing Obama from office takes priority.

    1. Auditing the Fed would likely destroy the remaining value of the dollar (What do you mean there’s no gold and there’s 100x the amount of debt‽‽‽) and thus destroy the country. Should by some miracle Ron Paul get elected as President I’ll buy a bottle of booze to celebrate.

  4. I dunno but it looks more to me like Ron Paul isn’t playing the stupid reindeer games of ‘gotcha’ politics and sticks to the issues.

    It was like that nonsense about people being shocked that Newt called Romney a liar. Apparently, it’s shocking to TV pundits that he’d dare do that. Not that, you know, Romney actually is a liar.

    1. I don’t think this is a case of “gotcha” politics simply because it reflects some very clear concerns about his leadership ability. As one man, even in the role of President, he can’t wipe away all of the federal bureaucracy. Because of that fact, it’s fair to question how he handles leadership struggles. If sticking out his tongue on Twitter is the way he plans to deal with constituents and other politicians, particularly Congress, then that’s a reasonable question of the ability for the guy to accomplish political goals.

      1. One man, in the office of President, could deal the bureaucracy some pretty epic wounds.

        1. How, after the end of the spoils system resulted in “professional” “Civil Servants” who are very hard to fire?

    1. But if I just say that I don’t like Ron Paul without providing any sort of evidence for my concerns about his ability & style, then you’d be swift to condemn me for warrantless emotion-based attacks. In other words, if I actually follow your standard, there’s no way to disagree with him because it’s all absurd or without evidence.

  5. If people are serious about a libertarian message, these missteps should be alarm bells blaring very loudly.

    Well, you want to be the spokesman for liberty?

    Ron Paul has terrible character judgment and awful management skills. Big whoop. He’s a celebrity spokesman for a worthy cause. Is it really wise to focus our attention on a Tweet by a junior staffer instead of more important issues such as liberty, the Fed, the police state, etc?

  6. If/When Ron Paul becomes president will his Paulbot supporters continue to flood phone-lines with their incessant message and try to shout-down any opposition, and will they Proxy-Tweet similarly for him as this seems evidence of doing at least as far as his statement of, “It wasn’t Moi?”
    This behavior seems to be symptomatic, characteristic, and reflective of his whole crowd-sourcing campaign venue.

    1. Paul supporters wouldn’t have to flood the airwaves if he’d get more than 89 seconds in debates and if people wouldn’t spread lies about him. How many times have we heard “isolationist” or that he wants open borders or that he wants everyone to do cocaine. These things are not true.

      Hell, people keep pretending he wouldn’t go to war and bring the hammer of God down on enemies if the Congress actually declares it like they’re supposed to.

  7. “Libertarian leadership” is an oxymoron. There is a reason people do not take Paul seriously and it is *not* because they are opposed to limited government.

  8. When a politician starts blaming his/her staff, I start losing respect.

    My wife liked Paul a lot, but she has one hang-up: “Why doesn’t he extend his libertarian principles to women’s bodies”?

    1. I think there is a way to lay responsibility on the individual, while also acknowledging that the leader of the campaign is at some fault for not setting the right tone in the organization or not clearly stating goals and addressing problems. I don’t think he has to drop out over a tweet. I just think that by refusing to acknowledge that as head of an organization, he has some responsibility for the actions of his underlings, he’s not being an actual leader.

      Seriously, can you imagine where his denial logic could take us? Anything he didn’t directly do by his own hands would be deemed “not important,” even if it happened with his knowledge or by staffers he hired.

    2. There are 2 main philosophical threads to Libertarians. Basically One is the Principle of Self Ownership, that is what your wife is referring to. Since she owns herself, then she should have control over her body. The second main principle is the principle of non-aggressive, ie it is always wrong to initiate force against another person. Libertarians from the Libertarian Party/Cato Institute/Reason Magazine tend to emphasize self ownership as the most important issue, therefore they are ok with abortion. Gary Johnson is an example of a candidate from this school. The second batch of libertarians tend to be the Mises Institute/Rothbard type libertarian wherein non-aggression is the number one principle in which case it is wrong to initiate force against another person hence abortion is wrong. Most libertarians tend to support both principles it is just a matter of which is the main one. Ron is the 2nd type, so he opposes abortion while still allowing that since you own yourself if you want to take drugs or do whatever sexual practices you want in your home it is none of the government concerns.

      1. I think it’s the “when does life begin” debate that results in the differences. Paul obviously feels, based on faith and experiences as a doctor, that life begins at (or near?) conception. In that case abortion is consistent with libertarian principles. If you feel a fetus is just a bunch of cells that is part of the mother until birth, then abortion would be consistent with libertarian principles up until that point.
        I believe life begins at conception, but even if I didn’t I wouldn’t be too concerned about Paul’s position on abortion for two reasons:
        1) He’s credible, since as a doctor he’s seen abortions in person and chances are high the average person has not.
        2) On every other issue, such as drugs or private sexual practices, he firmly believes in self ownership.

  9. Jeffery, there are plenty of Mises/Rothbard Paleolibertarians who are not anti-abortion. I’m pretty sure Walter Block is one of them. The main difference between the Mises/Cato camps is where they stand on the 14th amendment. Many from the Mises crowd simply don’t believe that the central government should have anything to say in the matter.

    The Mises camp emphasizes the importance of decentralization as a means to secure liberty. This means 50 states with 50 different approaches to the abortion issue, and the right of the people to vote with their feet. They read the 9th and 10th amendments very broadly, the “enumerated particulars” in Article 1, Section 8 very narrowly, and the 14th amendment narrowly as well. This is Ron Paul in a nutshell.

    The Cato camp relies more on the fedgov’s 14th amendment powers to secure a “cornucopia of rights” (I think that’s a phrase coined by Randy Barnett) within the states. Sebastian and Bitter (and sometimes me depending on my mood) are clearly in this camp. Alan Gura’s legal positions come from this camp as well.

    I see merit in both ways of thinking, and just can’t decide where to call “Home”.

    1. Good point on Walter Block, now that I think about it, I do believe that he sounded pro-choice when I read defending the undefendable. So maybe it was somewhat of a broad stroke I was painting with, but from the camp I do tend to see more of a pro-life standpoint which I feel stems from emphasis on non-aggression. That being said I think every libertarian probably takes a somewhat different approach to arrive at a similar conclusion.

    2. Don’t forget that Alan Gura argued to have the 2nd amendment incorporated against the states using the Privileges or Immunities Clause in McDonald v. Chicago, not the 14th amendment.

  10. While the “decentralization” camp may have a plausible story (that I bought into completely for many years) I think the genesis of the desire for “states rights” began with and is summarized by the following phrase:

    “Freed from the power of the Supreme Court and the federal government, they believe that local governments could adopt official religions and enforce biblical law.”

    1. Watchman: The “states rights” thing goes all the way back to the founding. Read the Antifederalist for plenty of examples of state’s rights sentiment, both from northern and southern states.

      Both “state’s rights” and an interventionist federal government can be used for good or for bad. The open question is which path will better secure liberty? We’ve had a good run with the latter recently, but what about the long run?

      1. I’d say we’ve had a very bad run with “an interventionist federal government”, to the point that many if not most of us seriously doubt the republic can last for much longer.

    2. “Freed from the power of the Supreme Court and the federal government, they believe that local governments could adopt official religions and enforce biblical law.”

      Which is total garbage absent a repeal of the 14th Amendment, which in theory enforces the Bill of Rights including the prohibition against a state religion on the states. I say “in theory” since what the 14th really says and was meant to do has been ignored from the beginning, e.g. it was explicitly meant to enforce the RKBA for freedmen and P&I was nullified, something just reaffirmed in MacDonald. Than again, “freedom from religion” is something the Supremes and our elites totally support.

      It’s also ludicrous to talk about the prospects of this coming to be in current US society (well, maybe it could happen in Utah, a special case, although it wouldn’t be “biblical” as most of the nation defines that); as Clayton has discussed elsewhere far too many “Christians” in the US simply aren’t in any meaningful sense of the word. From memory and partly in my own words, there are too many Catholics who have no trouble voting for pro-abortion politicians and both they and too many Protestants want warm fuzzies from the pulpit instead of genuine and useful fire and brimstone.

      This is just strawman propaganda that’s thrown out in every election to scare fools into not aligning with “Christians” with whom they are in more agreement that they’re lead to believe.

  11. Ron Paul has at least *two* twitter accounts – both “verified”

    Does he really have the time to keep track of all this social media on the night of an election? I think not. This is making a big ado about a rat fart.

    1. Only one is a campaign account, and since Congress is out of session, it’s the only relevant one. When it comes to reading every tweet, that’s not what I’m saying – a fact that I think many of you are deliberately ignoring. It’s about leadership of a campaign organization that he built, and a disinterest in righting wrongs committed by those he has given power over his message. We call such matters responsibility that comes with leadership.

  12. Is Ron Paul perfect?

    Hell no.

    Is he better than the other options?

    I tend to think so.

  13. Paul was asked about this on CNN yesterday. He said it was a staffer who wrote it without his knowledge, said who has never had a public relations person who didn’t do something dumb, and he said it was supposed to be a joke since he and Huntsman are pretty good friends.

    An interesting twist to that is they had Huntsman on immediately after him, same interviewer, and immediately asked Huntsman about it, and he laughed and thought it was funny and said, “Tell Ron Paul I owe him a tweet.”

    Now that that’s out of the way… how many trillions is the debt today, and which candidate is serious about doing something about it?

    1. Now that that’s out of the way…

      Actually it isn’t. In a supremely hostile media environment a candidate can’t afford many unforced errors. 9/10ths of the MSM will say and do anything to get Obama reelected (and Chris Matthews is getting even creepier in his Freudian style).

  14. A Critic,

    Substitute “Ron Paul” with “Eric Holder” and you just summarized the administration’s defense of F&F.

    It’s not about “blaming staff”, it’s about directing, supervising, and, yes, disciplining your team.

    Leadership 101 for anyone with a military background.

    “They” might have done it but “you” own it 100%.

    1. Thank you! Maybe this will get through to people what I am trying to say. Sometimes being a leader is about more than just trying to cover your own ass.

    2. Paul has already said he “owns” the newsletter comments from 20 years ago. He said he “owns” them and that they shouldn’t have happened. Has that Eric Holder guy in your example done that?

      Let’s see, in the past 20 years, Ron Paul has done a poor job of letting 10 politically incorrect sentences be written, which he says happened on his watch and shouldn’t have, and one bad-joke tweet to someone who he considers a friend.

      Is this the existing evidence to show how terrible of a leader Ron Paul would be? 10 sentences and one tweet over 20 years?

      1. How is his “ownership” different than Janet Reno’s “taking full responsibility” for Waco? (Besides the obvious difference in severity of these incidents?)

  15. Which is total garbage absent a repeal of the 14th Amendment. . .

    That is absolutely true, except that in the long term the 14th Amendment means what courts say it means. Look how much agitation has been going on, claiming it has been misinterpreted vis-a-vis birthright citizenship. Agitation is usually the precursor to a national mind-change. It is not always successful, but I can’t think of a change of national attitudes on any issue that wasn’t preceded by agitation and propagandizing.

    Consider the now perennial wars of SCOTUS appointments. The entire motivation for that — which in many cases seems to be the primary argument some people make for voting for one faction rather than the other — is not to change the constitution, but to have it read a certain way.

    Most of the “decentralist” arguments — and many of them may be correct — today have a genesis originating with people who see their attitudes prevailing in states and regions around the country (e.g., Iowa), while seeing those attitudes repeatedly snubbed by the SCOTUS as unconstitutional. They believe that absent the judgment of the federal government, they could do as they damn saw fit. Yes, that could be both good and bad, but we can’t have it both ways. On the one hand that could be good (e.g., perhaps for the RKBA) but on the other hand it would have also permitted continuation of the violations of people’s civil rights, as in the Old South.

    Not all of us who profess to seek liberty, as characterized by say, the RKBA, see the motivations of social conservatives and religionists as conducive to it. And usually you will find almost perfect correlation between social conservatism, religionism, and the belief that we should be relieved from the strictures imposed by federal courts. Furthermore, you will not find the loudest spokespeople for that definition of “decentralization” more than one degree of separation — and usually not that — from some of the most extreme forms of religious fundamentalism. So it is always worth questioning what the real motivations are for those who make the arguments, even if the issues at hand seem totally secular.

    1. Sorry to be curt and dismissive, but to restate one of my (and I believe Clayton’s) major points, anyone who believes social conservatives are in or are going to be in a position in the foreseeable future to do the things you appear to be worried about is simply not living in the same reality I am.

  16. “. . .anyone who believes social conservatives are in or are going to be in a position in the foreseeable future to do the things you appear to be worried about. . .”

    Every Republican presidential candidate except for one has been a social conservative, and that one has flip-flopped to pander to them. What should we make of that?

    Back to the SCOTUS appointee arguement. . .

    1. Every Republican presidential candidate except for one has been a social conservative…. What should we make of that?

      Just like the RKBA I find deeds, not words, to be of interest. If you could demonstrate a fraction of the deeds done in our favor to compare to deeds done for social conservatives you might start to have a case.

      Back to the SCOTUS appointee arguement. . .

      Ditto. Roe v. Wade isn’t going to be reversed in the foreseeable future (the direction has been in the opposite, in fact, e.g. the recent sodomy decision overturning a fairly recent one), nor is there a foreseeable supermajority in the Senate that would support Supreme Court nominees who’d do that, too many of the Republicans are “moderates”, RINOs, don’t have the nerve, interest, whatever. Like in times past for us, the social conservatives get lip service during the election and precious little else.

  17. “If you could demonstrate a fraction of the deeds done in our favor to compare to deeds done for social conservatives you might start to have a case.”

    It is not for lack of trying on the part of social conservatives.

    To take the examples that may be most numerous, at any given time there seems to be at least a half-dozen outstanding cases (and by that I mean, only the ones that are challenged) of overt violations of the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment, implemented by local or state officials, often in direct defiance of recent Supreme Court decisions. They may lose repeatedly, yet they keep chipping away, trying again and again, and using their losses to argue to their constituency that those losses demonstrate the need to be independent from federal courts. A cynic would be tempted to think the reason for engineering repeated losses it to keep their constituencies outraged and beating the drum for virtual secession from all federal authority.

    1. I rest my case, especially since you can’t point out anything the politicians are doing.

      Not to mention that you and the current Federal Court regime totally misconstrue what was meant by “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”; it forbids the establishment of an official state religion like the Anglican Church in the U.K. or the state church of Massachusetts at the time. Especially when that’s coupled with “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” which rather decreases the dangers feared.

      I.e. any political/judicial regime that would ignore the plain meaning of “prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]” could for example be equally obtuse about the RKBA. Oh, wait….

  18. ” . . .you and the current Federal Court regime totally misconstrue what was meant by “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”; it forbids the establishment of an official state religion like the Anglican Church in the U.K. or the state church of Massachusetts at the time. Especially when that’s coupled with “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” which rather decreases the dangers feared.”

    And you in turn have just made my case, completely.

  19. Oops! I forgot you wanted an example of legislators doing something:

    Crazy For Creationism: Legislators In Ind. And N.H. Seek To Undermine Instruction About Evolution

    “In Indiana, state Sen. Dennis Kruse has introduced S.B. 89, a bill that would allow public schools in the state to “require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.”

    “Meanwhile, some New Hampshire legislators have introduced a pair of truly kooky bills. State Rep. Jerry Bergevin’s bill, H.B. 1148, would order the state board of education to “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.” Bergevin believes that teaching evolution leads to Nazism and school shootings.”

    1. No, I said “politicians”, which of course legislators are a subset of, but in the context of this discussion a less interesting one.

      Especially since a couple of state legislators filing bills that will never get anywhere is even less interesting than Federal House member Carolyn McCarthy filing her “ban everything!” law every Congressional session.

      You’re going to have to try harder if you want to convince me these people are a real threat.

Comments are closed.