Cato Institute VP Sneers At Ron Paul: He’s Not Our ‘Kind of Person’!

A recent short piece in The Nation, “Ron Paul’s Roots,” by Christopher Hayes, has this eye-popping denunciation of Rep. Paul by the unbearably pompous Brink Lindsey, a Cato Institute “scholar” and recently appointed vice president for research,

“He doesn’t strike me as the kind of person that’s tapping into those elements of American public opinion that might lead towards a sustainable move in the libertarian direction.”

Here’s a new logical fallacy: the argument from snobbery. He isn’t our “kind of person.” What kind of person might that be? Well, it’s not at all clear. What is clear, however, is who isn’t “our kind of person.” As Senor Lindsey puts it:

“You have this weird group of people. You’ve got libertarians, you’ve got antiwar types and you’ve got nationalists and xenophobes. I’m not sure that is leading anywhere. I think he’s a sui generis type of guy who’s cobbling together some irreconcilable constituencies, many of which are backward-looking rather than forward-looking.”

Oh, those backwoods anti-IRS hicks, with necks redder than the reddest state, hopeless Neanderthals who would never read Lindsey’s book, The Age of Abundance, wherein he describes the supposedly “libertarian” utopia being ushered in by “the sexual revolution, environmentalism and feminism, the fitness and health care boom and the opening of the gay closet, the withering of censorship and the rise of a ‘creative class’ of ‘knowledge workers.'”

Lindsey and his fellow creative geniuses are too good for the poor untutored hoi polloi who don’t go to the gym four days a week and are neither feminists nor gay. In Lindsey’s lexicon, “Forward-looking” means “people like me,” and “backward-looking” stands for non-feminist non-gay non-gym-going proles, who don’t count anyway.

In any case, sneers Lindsey, Paul “comes from a different part of the libertarian universe than I do.” Yes, it’s all about him and his exotic prejudices.

I had to laugh when I read how Hayes demarcates the pro-Paul “populist” libertarians from the anti-Paul crowd — the latter are deemed the “cosmopolitan” faction! Yeah, as in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Lindsey’s haughtiness is really a joke, especially when it’s married to his clueless political analysis: who are these “xenophobes” he talks about — the overwhelming majority of Americans who don’t support his own “open the borders” position? And as for these alleged “nationalists” flocking to the Paulian cause: I guess this means they’re attracted to Ron’s questioning of why we’re going to war on account of UN resolutions and entangling alliances. Otherwise, I can’t imagine a less nationalistic candidate, in the modern sense of aggressive expansionism — which surely is better suited to Lindsey’s own position in favor of the Iraq war and the “liberation” of the Middle East.

What the Nation doesn’t tell us, however, is what might really interest Nation readers: that Lindsey’s critique of Paul is really rooted in Lindsey’s pro-war position. He argued in favor of the Iraq war in a piece for Reason magazine, basically making the neocon “weapons of mass destruction-they’ll-greet-us-as-liberators” argument, while Paul, of course, was against the war from the beginning. Having abandoned the core libertarian stance — opposition to mass murder by the State — Lindsey and his ilk are on their way out of libertarianism, as I’ve explained elsewhere, while Paul and his “backward-looking” brethren represent the future of the movement.

The hostility of the Beltway faux-libertarians to the Paul campaign is no surprise, as I explained here, but I’m glad to see the Reason folks are coming around. As the Hayes piece puts it: “Nothing breeds harmony like success, and the Paul bandwagon is now getting big enough for both the Hatfields and the McCoys to get on board. ‘Our readership is very enthusiastic,’ says Nick Gillespie, editor of the DC-based magazine Reason. A few months ago Reason published an article titled ‘Is He Good for the Libertarians?’ That no longer seems an open question.”

Hayes has got that right. Unfortunately, he gets other matters quite wrong: for example, I haven’t seen a single “Confederate nostalgist” at a Ron Paul event, and I’ve been to a few. I don’t imagine there are very many of these in New Hampshire, at any rate, where Ron is up to 8 percent. Hayes also brings out the “white supremacist” canard, based on the unsolicited “support” of someone who served with Dubya’s shock troops in Florida during the recount — a coincidence that seems just a bit dicey, if you think about it for a moment.

Hayes doesn’t want us to know that the key issue between the tiny Lindsey faction and the really existing libertarian movement is the war, and the issue of our foreign policy of global aggression. Just like he doesn’t want us to know the difference between Paul and all the Democratic presidential aspirants but Kucinich — which is the former’s unequivocal opposition to the war and his call for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops. If Paul runs as a third party antiwar candidate, and Hillary gets the Democratic nod, good luck to The Nation in walling off its leftist audience from Ron’s appeal. That some alleged “libertarians,” who are furthermore associated with the leading libertarian think tank, are helping to smear Ron and allowing themselves to be used in his way, is beneath contempt.

101 thoughts on “Cato Institute VP Sneers At Ron Paul: He’s Not Our ‘Kind of Person’!”

  1. CATO has strayed pretty far from its founders ideologies and intentions. You can just barely call them libertarian anymore. As with the Libertarian Party, popularity has won out over principle. Eternal vigilance can get pretty tiring.

  2. There are many people who call themselves libertarians yet support the use of state power to expropriate the wealth of innocent civilians in the US in order to fund the murder of innocent people abroad. A libertarian believes that a free society is based upon the recognition that every person has the natural right to life, liberty, and property. I fail to see how someone who embraces war and the military/security industrial complex can be called a libertarian. A pro-war “libertarian” is a “neo-conservative” in the AEI mode or a “neo-libertarian” in the Brookings mode but he is no libertarian. No genuinely libertarian organization can tolerate any support for the warfare state among its employees and scholars.

    I am thankful for the efforts of , the Mises Institute, and the Ron Paul campaign for their efforts in promoting a free society through their uncompromising opposition to the warfare/welfare state and central banking. The “cosmpolitan libertarians” should follow their example.

  3. I strongly support Ron Paul.

    Yet I find this attack on Lindsey to be unfair. The very title is a quote taken out of context, to create an imagined context. He doesn’t believe that Ron Paul’s campaign will create a sustained movement in a libertarian direction.

    The article notes that Lindsey supported the war, but then fails to note that he has come to his senses on that issue.

    Anyway, I think that it is obvious that Ron Paul falls short of perfection in many ways–his speaking ability, for example. Still, he is much better than everyone else running for President. In particular, all the other Republicans are really bad.

    Paul’s personal background and “private life” are pretty much perfect. His political resume is not perfect, but better than just about any other libertarian. There may some governors (from small states) who would be just about as good–if they were against the war. And willing to run. But Paul has always been one of our best potential candidates in terms of qualifications.

    The real issue here is message. Those libertarians who support a more or less neo-con foreign policy in the Middle East are dead set against Paul and find the other Republicans more acceptable. But, Cato opposes the neo-con foreign policy.

    Many libertarians disagree with Paul on abortion and immigration. Paul takes the less popular view on abortion, and emphasizes it. That is bad for building a libertarian movement. Pro-choice libertarianas consider this a problem. For pro-life libertarians, it is just another cross we must bear.

    Of course, being pro-life is popular in the Republican primary. But is a position that helps in the short run, good for the long run growth of a libertarian movement?

    Paul takes the popular position on immigration. So here is where we have a major question mark. I think it is true that many people oppose immigration for anti-libertarian reasons–they worry about immigrants stealing jobs and they worry about protectiong America’s culture from foriegn ways. And then, of course, there is the “they are breaking the law.” People with such a strong concern for political authority aren’t likely candidates for libertarianism.

    There are also libertarian reasons to oppose immigration. The burden on taxpapers for social welfare for the working poor. The possiblity that these workers will become voters and support socially conservative and/or economically liberal public policies.

    Those who worry about losing their jobs to immigrants or else want to perserve culture from change just don’t seem like part of a sustainable libertarian movement. So.. it is a question mark.

    Many libertarians don’t share Paul’s concerns about the UN or the North American Union. (Not that they support such things, but find it hard to understand why they would be major issues.) And there is Paul’s focus on blaming the Federal Reserve for everying, predicting disaster soon, and callng for a gold standard. Cato actually ‘promotes’ monetary changes along these lines, but is it really the best issue for a Presidential campaign in 2008?

    When Ron Paul had raised only $600,000 and was at 1% or 2% in the polls, it was easy to dismiss him. His message is wrong. He is going nowhere.

    Well, I think he has been vindicated by $17 million and 7% in the polls.

    When Paul had much less support, one could look at his online following and plausibly extrapolate to the broader group. The core was a coalition between libertarians and Constitutionalists. How many of them held to false conspiracy theories about the income tax or the Fed? How many were 9-11 truthers? How many were worried about the CFR and Trilateral commission? Are they rednecks? Maybe some are, but the problem is that they were using the Ron Paul movement to promote these false conspiracy theories. Let’s get everyone to see Russo’s Freedom to Facism so they will all support Ron Paul.

    At least locally, as the national campaign has had a bit more influence and the movement has grown, this has been a less serious problem within the corps of volunteers.

    As for the several million who say they will vote for Paul…
    I hope that we will be able to find out a bit more about them before all of this is over.

    While imperfect, I strongly support Ron Paul’s campaign.

    And, by the way, the fact that Ron Paul doesn’t attack other libertarians in ugly (and sometimes dishonest ways) has made it much easier to support his campaign.

    Bill Woolsey

  4. Cato is a group that will never, ever get my support (I have supported them in the past…the far past, 10 years ago). They are LINO’s (Libertarian’s In Name Only) and no better than their warmongering neocon brethren. They’re a disgrace to the liberty movement and I hope they wither and die just like the Libertarian Party has and will continue to do.

    Here’s another quote from that same piece:

    “One DC-based libertarian–who asked not to be named because he “would like to avoid getting endless 2 am calls from nuts yelling at me for not agreeing with the gold standard”–told me he thinks Rockwell is “one of the most loathsome people ever to set foot on this continent.”

    I would suggest that Lew threaten to sue The Nation for libel and slander if they don’t print the name of the person who said this and then make a retraction. It’s appalling to me that a national journalistic organization would print a story with an anonymous and slanderous comment like that.

  5. It is an idea alien to the present American conventional mindset, whatever its place on a putative political spectrum of “Left” and “Right”, but what one is against is much more important than what one is for.

    This is the essence of the American Constitution, and particularly the Bill of Rights.

    It is also behind the frequent success of the “United Front”.

    Paul and Kucinich have the big ticket items in common, including the Constitution.

    If there is an independent run after the primaries and both are not in it together, you might as well have the rope oiled for hanging separately.

    In the mean time, there is no excuse for Paul’s supporters not to be supporting Kucinich’s initiative to impeach Cheney.

    Overthrowing Kings is an American tradition.

    In this case, overthrowing the Assistant King is a first and indispensable step in bringing the whole array of criminals who have hijacked the Federal government to an accounting.

    Among other things, a snail mail to Pelosi telling her to put impeachment on the table might work wonders, with perhaps a mention that one is considering supporting her next opponent, Cindy Sheehan, with a contribution, from whatever part of the country you have to be.

  6. To a degree, the fellow from Cato is correct, Paul is supported by political elements that are irreconcilable on many levels. However, this is where Cato misses the trees for the forest .

    Paul is getting this bi-partisan support because his basic positions can be agreed upon by a wide spectrum……they are fundamental truths that support our essential rights and traditions. How we go forward from there is up to an engaged political dialogue between left and right, separating the chaff in the process and baking a pretty good loaf.

    Now, we do not so much have a reasoned debate as we do a chorus playing to the worst instincts of a politically illiterate populace.

    Every time a major organization or media outlet dismisses Paul, the citizen should make a mark on their war belt and know he’s derided because he threatens the Pirates that have boarded the ship and made it theirs.

    1. The United States won independence on a program of brilliantly crafted negatives, enshrined, among other places, in the United States Constitution.

      It is no coincidence that the present King and his minions, not only in the executive branch, but in the legislative and judicial, have systematically attacked and undermined even the semblance of Constitutional government.

      That the Supreme Court, for example, has not ruled faith-based initiatives unconstitutional, is an egregious sophism.

      Faith-based initiatives not only neutralize opposition of religious organizations to the war in Iraq, they also help power the Bush and Cheney political machines.

      Madison is turning over in his grave.

      That is another big ticket item Paul’s and Kucinich’s supporters have in common.

    1. I love your message antiwarleague, Bill. To all: up until Deecember 18, you can vote your presidential choice , once per email address, at, which ballot contains all the announced Democrat and Republican candidates, and four independent names. Give Paul a nod if you wish.

  7. Patterns behind historical facts are often illusive to those untrained and both widely and deeply unlearned.

    In fact the patterns are the only continuing use of history, beyond nostalgia or antiquarianism.

    I mention a stray fact–Mehmed Ali Pasha, Wali of Egypt and Sudan and “founder of modern Egypt”, was Albanian.

    Where to file that item? In fact, Ali’s being Albanian, with a close coterie of Albanians around him, was the key to his success.

    Where to file the pattern then?

    One thinks of Howard Hughes and his Latter Day Saint Bodyguard.

    If this pattern does not ring a bell in relation to Romney, there is probably no point to mentioning any history, ancient or modern, in a contemporary political context.

    Is it a question of what will happen necessarily? No. Of what could, and easily, especially if the Christian Coalition types, ranging from Erik Prince to Liberty U., manage a “United Front” of their own that includes the Latter Day Saints.

    I note also that Utah is the only remaining state where there is still majority support for Bush and Cheney, including for the war in Iraq.

    And, no, I am not “anti-Mormon”, but a whole nation on the pattern of Salt Lake City, as with an American foreign policy that is more Zionist than American, is not to my taste.

      1. why according to a recent survey more depressed people live in the State of Utah than in any other state. It is a wonder and blessing that Salt Lake City elected my favorite mayor, Honorable Rocky Anderson. Check out his righeous courageous November speech, found on line, of course.

  8. After Ron Paul announced his candidacy I expected to see some jubilation from Reason and Cato. I guess I was naive, but their inability to support a “real” opportunity to effect Freedom and Libertarian principles despite some differences in ideologies between the camps showed me that they are merely political analysts. They aren’t interested in mobilizing the effort toward liberty but they’ll take donations and give lip service to Liberty.

    Once I saw no support coming from Reason I canceled my subscription and told them why. I’m glad to see Reason start to change their tune, although they still disgust me with their patronizing analysis on Ron Paul’s candidacy and the movement of his supporters. I’ve never donated to CATO so I can’t tell them where to shove it. We don’t need their stinkin’ ivory tower of Freedom, we need action and movement heading down a brisk and steady path toward Freedom. Move over think tanks and analysts, make room for the real Libertarians from every persuasion -we’re marching to take our country back from the liberty bandits.

  9. Hey Steve LaBianca – I’m glad to see you are not one of the Anti-Paul libertarians. It’s not just the beltway libertarians or the liberventionists (I don’t even consider them to be libertarians) that have a problem with Ron Paul. Many LP partisans are bitching about Ron Paul also.

    I don’t agree with Ron Paul on every issue, but overall he is more libertarian than a number of LP candidates. He is really not a lot different than the LP’s 2004 candidate, Badnarik. As for the abortion issue, what difference does it make if he is pro-choice or pro-life when he says abortion shouldn’t be a federal issue?

    The truth is that whether Ron Paul wins the GOP nod or not, he will have done more to move America in a more libertarian direction than the LP or CATO is doing. That is assuming that things like free markets and noninterventionism are things that “libertarians” care about these days.

  10. “If Paul runs as a third party antiwar candidate, and Hillary gets the Democratic nod, good luck to The Nation in walling off its leftist audience from Ron’s appeal.”

    All of which begs the question, will Paul run as a third party anti-war candidate? Precisely, where has that question gotten at this point, Justin? And you are right, of course, respecting the Nation and its clientele. I spend some time blogging left although I do so more as an antagonist than a sympathizer and what is becoming increasingly clear there is that there is as much anti-system as anti-Republican sentiment. Those of the former sympathy, while liberal, are anything but closed to Paul. One needs consider the recent piece on Paul by Robert Scheer, for example.

    John Lowell

    John Lowell

  11. Cato hasn’t been worth a s**t since they moved from San Francisco to the belly of the beast, Washington D.C. They were going to go there to influence the federal government. D.C. corrupts everything it touches. The government instead influences Cato. Strange. I would think a limited government type like Ron Paul would fit right in at Cato. I guess he doesn’t allocate enough stolen taxpayer dollars to Cato’s worthy causes to please them.

    Bush……….Need I say more!!!!!! NO MORE MONEY FOR CATO!!!!!

  13. I think the cosmopolitan vs. populist “divide” is an example of the left-wing Nation trying to create a division where none really exists.

    Ron Paul is the first candidate I’ve donated money to in my 41-year lifetime. He’s the only major party candidate that I’ve been enthusiastic about in the last two decades.

    When I do a search for Ron Paul on Cato’s website, all of the top ten hits are positive stories — including several very positive items by David Boaz.

    It’s enough that we have to fight both the neocons and the liberals — we don’t need to be creating warring camps within the libertarian movement.

    1. And also, Lindsey is dead wrong when he says that Paul doesn't attract "forward-looking creative class" types.

      From Ron Paul's reception at Google…

      To the Ron Paul anthem put together by New York indie rockers…

      What Paul's campaign has shown is that a message of freedom can unify everyone from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Manhattan hipsters to Goldwater conservatives and Bible Belt homeschoolers.

  14. Do you guys know something I don’t? Ron Paul has said many times that he will not run as a 3rd party if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination. Normally when a politician says these types of things I take it as a grain of salt, as they are likely trying to keep a positive attitude yet can complete change when support doesn’t go their way, however when Ron Paul says something I tend to believe him. Maybe you guys know something I don’t, maybe he has already changed his mind on running as a 3rd party. I really think he has a good chance to win the Republican nomination, his support is growing everyday, and if he was able to win that I think he is also the Republican Party’s best chance at defeated Hillary. They simply don’t stand a chance with a pro-war nominee, given where public opinion lies with both Bush and the war. I do have a big fear of voter fraud and voting machines, if Ron Paul was to win the nomination, would the voting machines agree with it?

  15. A ticket of Kucinich/Paul would be effective to getting back our country and dumping the false entity called corporation.

    There is at least one striking difference: Kucinich cares about protecting the environment and Paul, for all his acrobatics around the subject, obviously does not.

  16. Oh, those backwoods anti-IRS hicks, with necks redder than the reddest state, hopeless Neanderthals who would never read Lindsey’s book, The Age of Abundance, wherein he describes the supposedly “libertarian” utopia being ushered in by “the sexual revolution, environmentalism and feminism, the fitness and health care boom and the opening of the gay closet, the withering of censorship and the rise of a ‘creative class’ of ‘knowledge workers.’”<a title="quinceanera limousine services" href="">quinceanera limousine services

Comments are closed.