I ruffled some feathers last week when I noted that Rand Paul's conspiracy theory regarding Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and the Iraq War is strikingly similar to theories promulgated by a certain segment of 9/11 Truthers. As I said at the time, repeated the following day, and will reiterate today, I don't believe that Rand Paul believes that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush allowed the 9/11 attacks to proceed in order to create a pretext to invade Iran. However, I do believe that it is worth drawing attention to the fact that a great many citizens of Paul World are, in fact, 9/11 Truthers and that neither Rand Paul nor his father Ron have been particularly vociferous in distancing themselves from these crackpots. Why? Well, every vote counts!
As I said at the time: "dog whistles and stuff."
Recent Stories in Politics
I bring this up again because the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity recently chose to republish a screed by Paul Craig Roberts that concludes "the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah."* Ron Paul, when asked why the institute that bears his name was giving credence to such insanity, shrugged it off, saying it's "political correctness" to suggest that 9/11 Truthers should be dismissed.
Reason's Matt Welch suggests that Ron Paul, like some others in the libertarian movement, are loathe to cast aside allies because they hold one or two outré beliefs. If you believe one thing strongly enough—in Ron Paul's case, that the United States is an aggressive bully who is always wrong and needs to be reined in by more reasonable powers such as Putin's Russia—then your belief in other things doesn't really matter, even if they're ugly and tarnish your brand with the public at large. It's just coalition building, albeit modestly perverse.
This is the world from which Rand Paul comes. It's a world in which 9/11 Truthers are tolerated because they hate the United States military and the United States' place in the world as a unipolar power. It's a world in which a 30-year-old man goes to his job wearing a confederate flag and toasts the birthday of John Wilkes Booth and Rand Paul feels comfortable dismissing criticism of those actions because, hey, can't a guy "have had a youth"? It's a world in which you build a coalition of cranks—and carefully avoid criticizing their crankery so as to alienate as few in the coalition as possible.
To repeat: This is the world from which Rand Paul comes. And these are the people he will bring with him to power if he takes the White House.
*"Three?" you may be asking yourself. Don't forget about World Trade Center 7, which was ordered to be destroyed because it held files and secret documents related to the plan to destroy WTC 1 and WTC 2. Or something. Kind of depends on which nutter you ask and on which day you ask him.