Ethics Hero: Rep. Ron Paul

The identity of Mitt Romney's knight in shining armor was a surprise, but it shouldn't have been.

Ron Paul is, to engage in understatement, unusual, and often in a good way. How many politicians, for example, will actively defend their adversary in a campaign  right before a critical vote? Yet that’s what Ron Paul did, defending Mitt Romney, his main competition for the GOP presidential nomination, after Romney had blooped a line that will undoubtedly haunt him for a long time. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” Romney had said. “You know, if someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I want to say ‘You know, I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.” It was predictable that the line would be truncated and taken out of context, and it was…by the press, by Jon Huntsman, by Rick Perry. It will surely be used against Romney by President Obama, who has adopted the position that people should be able to hold on to jobs whether they do them well or not— Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, for example. But Paul would have none of it, saying,

“I think this is just typical politics and they’re unfairly attacking him on that issue,” Paul said outside a polling place at Webster School in Manchester. “He never literally said what they say he said. They’re taking him way out of context.”

Paul also defended Romney’s history as CEO at Bain Capital, the subject of a new attack video by Newt Gingrich, as an example of the free market working properly. “You save companies, you save jobs when you reorganize companies that are going to go bankrupt,” Paul said. “They [the critics] don’t understand.”

The last time a political candidate came to the defense of an opponent was when Sen. Jim Webb, then challenging incumbent George Allen, intervened to stop press criticism of reports that Allen had used racial slurs as a college student, saying that he too had used inappropriate language in college, and that  intemperate conduct at that age should be irrelevant in a political contest. That was typical of Webb, a man of impeccable character, and Paul’s defense of Romney is also typical. He doesn’t want to win with tricks, lies and deceits; he wants to win on the strength of his ideas and beliefs. Many politicians claim to be like that, but Ron Paul really is like that.

27 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Rep. Ron Paul

  1. I like Ron Paul. Not necessarily because I agree with him on all the issues but because I believe he’s believable,consistent,honest,and just doesn’t appear to be a part of the Washington machine. He’s his own man and not many politicians can say that. Thanks for the “shout out.”

    • I think that’s a little harsh. Paul didn’t have to say anything, and that would be the playbook response, with the book being older than Jefferson. Did Humphrey come to JFK’s defense in 1960, saying that Catholics were as patriotic as an Americans? Did McGovern come to Muskie’s aid in 1972, telling the press that Muskie’s tears showed his love for his wife? Did Jimmy Carter say, “Well, you know, an acting background would be incredibly useful to a President…” as Reagan was getting ridiculed? Did Bush say, “Hey–John Kerry served his country when he was called and was cited for valor; there’s no excuse for challenging that now”? It was a very non-traditional, integral move by Paul…I can’t recall many others like it, recently or in US political history.

      • A couple points:

        I’m not sure this behavior is as rare as you suggest… witness John McCain’s support for Barack Obama’s patriotism at that rally last time around.

        It would also be interesting to know the context. We know what Rep. Paul said, but not the circumstances… or the motives. Did he initiate the discussion, or was he responding to a question? Is he angling for a position in a prospective Romney administration? Or jockeying for position as the not-Romney, seeking more to damage Gingrich, Perry and Huntsman than to support Romney? There is, of course, a level at which none of this matters. But there is also a level at which it very much does.

        Also, the defense of Romney’s performance at Bain strikes me as entirely logical to have come from Paul, whose political positioning wouldn’t allow him to do otherwise: the libertarian position is indeed a sort of social Darwinist stance by which the actions others may call “predatory” (or whatever) are seen as perfectly reasonable, indeed admirable. In other words, he was defending the actions rather than countering the attacks. (Does that distinction make sense?)

        None of this is to suggest that Rep. Paul’s comments were anything but a good thing… I just have a lot of trouble getting to “hero” status from here.

        • He was responding to a question from a journalist seeking a shot at Romney.
          Again his defense makes sense from his standpoint, he just didn’t have to make it.
          I agree that McCain’s multiple refusals to take cheap shots at Obama qualify–but then I made him an Ethics Hero for it too.

  2. I know that a lot of people don’t care for Ron Paul, due in large part to his news letters. The newsletters do not concern and the reason is very simple. People grow and change. And a person of good character will normally try to do right thing even at personal cost Ron I think is one of people. Am I right?. I guess we will find out soon enough. After all one situation is not the be all end all. But if he can show the same character when the subject of the criticism is, say, Obama, i will be sold. All the same kudos to Ron Paul on this one.

    • Well, “due in large part” to his insane and suicidal isolationist and pacifist policies, his belief that the US should have let the Confederacy withdraw and practice slavery, his belief that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional and that the federal government should not ban racial discrimination or other forms of active bigotry, his conviction that the US shouldn’t have opposed Hitler in WWII, and that stopping the Holocaust was “none of our business”, his belief that we shouldn’t have retaliated after 9-11, that we should allow the crazy regime in Iran to get nuclear weapons, and that the US should legalize heroin and crystal meth.

      And the newsletters, of course. You just left out some stuff, inadvertently I’m sure.

      • Since Ron Paul intends to do things by the book his Isolationism and pacifism isn’t a problem because “that the Congress would be the dominate branch in administration of the Armed Forces. Congress was given first and foremost the power to declare war.” The Founders,in fact,didn’t like the idea of a standing army.
        The Civil War wasn’t exclusively about slavery and slavery wasn’t Lincoln’s primary concern. It was more about federal encroachment on states rights. The North also subscribed to slavery.
        Thomas Sowell’s book,Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? discribes his take on the civil rights movement. To go into it would take up too much space. I believe,however, the Civil Rights Act’s intentions were and many of the results are for the good.
        Paul’s position on WW2 must have something to do with our engaging in war for defense purposes only but Hitler’s aims went well beyond his own country and for that we had to intervene.
        The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as well as our troops and others and for what exactly? Bush’s famous “No weapons of mass destruction here.” Ha ha…so funny. The Iraqis must still be rolling on the floor laughing.
        In 1998 US Vice-President Dick Cheney said in a speech to oil industrialists:

        “I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as

        suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian”

        Within four years the US military had overthrown the government of Afghanistan, and the construction of the Caspian Sea oil pipeline by US oil corporations had begun.
        The ‘war on terror’ is being used as an excuse to further US energy interests in the Caspian.


        BBC News, “Race to unlock Central Asia’s energy riches”, 29 December 1997.

        “American oil companies, together with Pakistan, have shown strong interest in an alternative route that would carry Turkmen gas, via Afghanistan, to the Pakistani port of Karachi.”
        And the Libyan little boy with the lower part of his face blown off I’m sure is just praising Allah for those NATO/Obama attacks that set him free from Gaddafi.
        The War on Drugs is a farce. How many private prisons hold non-violent drug addicts while Fast and Furious arms drug cartels? And everybody knows the CIA is involved in drug trafficking.

        • 1. Don’t get me back in the drug argument again.
          2. uh-uh-uh—comparative arguments are verboten. Fast and Furious has nothing to do with legalizing drugs.
          3. I didn’t mention Iraq. I talked about retaliating against the Taliban, which was supporting Bin Laden’s operations.
          4. Saying that a nutty position doesn’t matter because the President can’t make it happen unilaterally ignores the fact that it was nutty.
          5. Without slavery, there would not have been a Civil War. Sayin g teh war was not “about” slavery is disingenuous. The South seceded when a perceived abolitionist was elected President, and slavery was the main issue in that campaign. Come on.
          6. The Founders thought we could get by with local militias. They weren’t thinking about missiles, tanks and aircraft carriers. That’s a silly statement. If Paul decided we should go back to muskets—and I wouldn’t put it past him—you would say that the Founding Fathers would agree. 250 years so change things a bit.

          • 2. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical for the government to say it’s engaged with a war on drugs when it plays around in the field itself? And since it does can it really be serious about the war? Just what is it doing?
            3. 9/11 was the excuse given for invading Iraq,Jack. Incidentally,bin Laden never would have been an issue if the CIA hadn’t trained him and the Taliban to be the force they are. I don’t think the Taliban had what it takes to pull off 9/11 by themselves anyway. They aren’t that sophisticated.
            4. I wouldn’t not vote for Paul just because he wouldn’t be in favor of a war Congress wanted. Nutty or not.
            5. If slavery were the main issue with southern states why did northern states still have slavery?
            6. I wasn’t trying to make a strong argument against a standing army although I admit it sounded like it somewhat.
            There are things I disagree with Paul on but they aren’t things that will be an issue if he is the kind of president he says he will be and won’t usurp Congress or give himself powers the president shouldn’t have.

            • 1. What happened to #1?
              2. I have no idea what you’re talking about, and if you want my views on the topic, check out the post and comment thread, I’m sure the issue will come up again, but I don’t feel like re-hashing it now.
              3. Again, that’s a side topic. My comment referred to Paul opposing the attack on the Taliban, which was 100% justified. (But for the record, 9-11 was not “the excuse” for going into Iraq. Plans for an Iraq invasion had been underway for a long time because of Saddam’s violation of the cease fire terms, and suspicion of WMD’s. The invasion was legal and justifiable, which is not to say it was a good idea, or that it was handled properly.
              4. That’s not the point. The point is that people with nuuty ideas can’t be trusted to be leaders, whether they can act on those ideas or not.
              5. Border states had slavery. That’s a canard. The fight was between slave states and non-slave states, but some of the slave states chose not to secede.

              • 2. I meant the war on drugs. The gov can’t simultaniously be at war with drugs while at the same time profiting from them and be believeable.So either be serious about the war or give it up.. I understand if you think the US is too holy to ever do anything so corrupt. I,on the other hand,believe the nation is awash in corruption in the upper eshelons. I guess that’s my liberal side coming out.
                3. Assuming you’re right about the reason for invading Iraq. a. There were no WMDs. b.We killed Saddam. Why were we there so long? c. You agree that slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians was a bad idea? d. We let Israel slide with Security Councel violations but not countries we don’t like. I know that’s neither here nor there but I do hate a double standard.
                4. I would trust a man who says up front what he’s about rather than one who says one thing and does another once in office. And they ALL do.
                I left out certain steps because I didn’t care to discuss them further.
                I know I won’t change your mind but I do like to banter with you especially since I know you’ve been around a few more blocks than I and I’m willing to check out the other side. I’ll admit if I’m convinced I’m wrong after recieving further data on a subject. That’s why I enjoy having friends and aquaintances with many different views. 🙂

      • I cant say that i agree with every thing he says. But he seems to have integrity, or at least more than many of our presidential contenders. Undoutedly ending slavery was the right thing to do, though that was not the prime area if contention between the north.and south and Jefferson Davis had his own plan for freeing slaves. His belief that the civil rights act was unconstitional in no way says that he does not agree with civil rights. His belief that the federal government should not ban discrimination stems.from his belief that it should be a states right and responsibility; (personaly i dissagree with him here.america.has a responibility to all her.citizens)
        As for WW2 the holocaust and Iran, there are some things you need to.get as a world power and leader of the free world these are prime examples 911 as well. To claim other wise is concerning. But America.does not need to involve its self in every confrontation, and taking a step back.and dealing with issues here at home, I think could only benifit us in the.end.
        Is Ron Paul a perfect candidate? Absolutly not. But i am glad he is running and i look forward to hearing more from him in upcoming months and i hope we will see more.of him here on Ethics Alarms heros and good calls. I think we.will.

        • Do you really think that addresses the more extreme end of Paul’s anti-war policies? Boy, I don’t. The conflicts mentioned are thee easy ones. Paul would have had the US on the sidelines in the Civil War, WW I (can’t say I disagree there), WW II, Korea and Afghanistan. That, to my mind, is isolationism, and dangerous.

  3. I think some people are having problems with Ron Paul because he is the type of candidate that you don’t see in politics that often: a seemingly sincere man with many laudable qualities who is completely unfit for the office of president. We are so used to seeing candidates that we can’t trust and that we (usually correctly) suspect will say anything to get elected that we are surprised when a candidate isn’t like that. We want to like such a candidate because they are a breath of fresh air and have qualities we would like to see in the other candidates, but when they have such bizarre and disastrous ideas it is a letdown. We want our candidates to be completely bad or completely good, we have problems when they have qualities that we really do want in a leader, but have others that we don’t. In my opinion, both Ron Paul and President Obama are both such people. If we could just combine the best qualities of both (yes a scary thought), we would have a pretty good president.

  4. Let me to be the first of your fans to say I think Romney’s “I like to fire people”–even taken IN context–displays an inner heartlessness. I know about creative destruction, and I myself have taken actions to lay off people, and even fired a couple face-to-face. I did what needed to be done. No apologies.

    But did i like it? I HATED it.

    Romney’s comment seems of a kind with hiis strapping the family dog on his car roof for a 500-mi trip, or his advocacy of breaking up families to deport the parent or child who’s illegal. Gingrich was right.

    • Confirmation bias. Romney clearly meant that he liked being able to fire people. I agree with him about deporting illegal parents regardless of the children and I’m not heartless—I just don’t like people breaking the law and then blaming enforcement for a situation they created themselves.

      The dog—well, I’m with you on that. The story makes me sick..Gingrich, of course, treats women like dogs. But he’s never strapped on to the roof of his car.

      • What about deporting a child–or young man–who was brought here illegally as an infant and who knows only America? I’m thinking of a blog about deporting a child who was brought here as an infant. The LATimes ran a heartrending (my heart, maybe not yours) piece yesterday:

        • Wow. More feelings for the dog than for the child. In my opinion, Bob has the better case here that Romney inadvertently revealed a heartlessness that comes from bottom line thinking. His remarks were taken out of context, but he sure found the phrase easy to say–back to mindset again. Further, to get to the real problem with his comment, the idea that one can fire their insurance company shows an utter lack of living in the real world with the rest of us. I’m afraid it’s usually the insurance company that fires us–when we get sick.

          • Not fair. I would have felt worse for the child of an illegal than the dog if Romney had strapped HIM to the roof. But it is absurd to let people break the law and then use their children as human shields—and irresponsible to encourage them to do it by misplacing proper responsibility. The plight of the children is 100% their parents doing, and the US should not be blamed for the results in any way.

            • I’ll stand by my comment. How a country treats innocent children (it’s their parents who are guilty), citizens or not, says volumes about their ethics and their ability to challenge ethics lapses in the wider world.

  5. Jan’s right. It’s unethical and anti-biblical teaching, as well, for you Abrahamic people. A good society doesn’t punish children for the sins 9or crimes, or infractions) of their parents. It’s a mystery to me how ethical people can think otherwise.

    • Can’t send a single parent away to prison then either, eh? Boy, these kids are the greatest crime-assist ever! So the ethical theory is that parents can break the law, and then create children to ensure that they can never pay the price for breaking that law. Indefensible. A child returned to the country of origin is no worse off than he or she would have been had the parent obeyed the law. The child who stays behind has a choice…one the child of a convicted prisoner doesn’t have, by the way. This is mushy ethical thinking. Jan, Bob. Nice, sweet, but systemically impossible and unjust. Ethics doesn’t mean “let everyone get away with the unfortunate results of their misconduct.” It just doesn’t. And I don’t see how anyone can fail to comprehend THAT.

  6. You can send a single parent to prison. You can also punish a child who was brought here as an infant by deporting him. You can punish HIM for his parents’ transgression. But it’s wrong in my book, if not in yours.

    • Clarify: are you saying that a single parent should NOT be sent to prison for a serious felony, forcing the child into foster care? If you aren’t, then would it be just to send immigration scofflaws to jail for, say, 3 years, and let them apply for citizenship when they get out?

      • I’m all for sending felons to prison, parents or not. I’m NOT for deporting, say, a 20-year old to a country he’s never seen because his parents brought him here illegally as an infant.

        As far as prison for immigration offenders, I’m not sure what I think.

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