If you care about the antiwar issue, joining with Ron Paul is like seculars joining with the Muslim Brothers to get rid of Mubarak. You needed a broad coalition to push Hosni out. And in the end, that coalition did the impossible; it moved Obama. Obama wouldn't have jumped in if not for Tahrir. He needed political cover. A broad coalition gave it to him.
But what if leftwing secular social-media types had stood around Tahrir Square asking the smart question, Hey what do these folks-- Muslim Brothers and Salafis-- want to do with the role of women in politics? They would never have gotten rid of Mubarak.
Ignoring, for a moment, how abhorrent it is to attribute Mubarak's ouster to some mythical liberal-Salfi-Ikhwan-social media alliance, rather than the years' worth of potentially life-threatening political organizing and civil society-building undertaken by traditionally lefty outfits like the April 6th movement--ignoring that: it's unsurprising, but nevertheless distasteful, to see someone like Weiss weeping over someone like Paul. Weiss once blogged for and frequently contributed to The American Conservative, a publication that Pat Buchanan founded in 2002 and edited until 2007. The sentence preceding this one would itself be an ad hominem, had TAC not published the following paragraphs, which were authored by none other than Phil Weiss, and which were selected more or less at random after a brief skim of this article:
Yes, but what about my hard-earned views? Israel and the Mideast were crucial pieces in American foreign policy. Jewish giving was the largest factor in Democratic campaign financing. Peter had never squelched my views, but how free would I be as a writer, knowing what I knew about the bosses’ feelings?
As the meeting went on with Peter praising my talents in his Ziegfeldian way, I became upset. “Peter, don’t you see what’s happening in this country? Ron [Rosenbaum] just went to Slate. He is pro-Israel. Slate also lately hired Shmuel Rosner, an Israeli who loves the neocons, to write from Washington.” I grabbed a galley of Jeffrey Goldberg’s book from one of the piles in Peter’s office. “Goldberg works for The New Yorker in Washington and because he thought America was dangerous for Jews, he moved to Israel and served in their army, then he moved back here and pushed America to go to war in Iraq. Well, I’m different. I don’t think America is dangerous for Jews, and I’m critical of Israel. And there’s no room for me here. There’s no room.”
Weiss is a proud, card-carrying conspiracy theorist who has published articles in America's leading paleoconservative journal, which was itself founded by one of America's leading card-carrying conspiracy theorists. Of course this guy would be a Ron Paul supporter.
Ron Paul believes all sorts of asinine things about Jewish influence; beliefs which happen to justify a left-wing, anti-war view of America's role in the world. And as I mentioned in my last post, Paul's ability to stake a heroically reasonable position on certain issues rests on a bedrock of pure crazy. The difference between say, Ron Paul and Gary Johnson is that Paul understands that his ideas will stagnate if he's unable to build up a base of support. Depressingly enough, in America in 2012, barely-telegraphed conspiracist tripe about Jewish influence and Jewish money is one way of building up a base of support.
The parallelisms between Mondoweiss and the Ron Paul campaign explain why Weiss's enthusiasm for the Texas congressman has produced such a fit of pique for me. Weiss, like Paul, is a race-baiter masquerading as a fearless truth-teller. Weiss's blog might be successful (well, relatively successful) because it follows the spirit of the Paulite movement in staking a heroically reasonable position on the Middle East--but it's also successful because it follows the spirit of the Paulite movement in offering an unabashed appeal to the American psyche's basest, most paranoid, and most racist instincts. Ron Paul and Phil Weiss are kindred spirits in the worst possible sense.