Pretending That Ron Paul Doesn’t Matter Won’t Make Him Go Away

In a mostly brave, mostly sensible editorial posted Wednesday evening at National Review Online, the editors of the conservative movement’s flagship magazine took an emphatic stand against the rise of Newt Gingrich, listing his specific character flaws, laying out how he has demonstrated them recently, and explicitly urging GOP primary voters to back a different candidate. Who? The editorial argues that Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum are all worth another look, meanwhile making brief cases against the remaining Republican candidates.

Rick Perry “has seemed curiously and persistently unable to bring gravity to the national stage,” the editors argue, while Michelle Bachmann has demonstrated poor judgment with some of her rhetoric. And the brief against Congressman Ron Paul? Here’s the whole argument: “Representative Paul’s recent re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11 are a reminder that the excesses of the movement he leads are actually its essence.”

It nearly made me spit out my drink.

The implication is that Rep. Paul is a 9/11 truther — you’d think, reading that one sentence, that Paul stated or implied the U.S. government either orchestrated or had foreknowledge of the attacks. In fact, Rep. Paul responded to the September 11 attacks by voting to authorize an actual war against its perpetrators; and as anyone who is even passingly familiar with his worldview knows, his controversial opinion is that Islamist terrorists attack the United States partly because they are furious about the quasi-imperial role America plays in their countries. The blow-back theory is itself controversial, but it is obviously different from 9/11 Trutherism…

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