On January 12, 2007, a Texas city councilman named Chris Peden told the Galveston Daily News, "I have an immense amount of respect for Ron Paul. Politics has a way of forcing people to go against their core principles for political gain. That has never been the case for Ron Paul."
In case you don’t know, Chris Peden is now Ron Paul’s congressional challenger in the Republican primary in Texas’ 14th District.
What happened to make Peden go from an admirer to an opponent — and not just an opponent, but one who is running a vicious and (as he surely realizes) dishonest smear campaign against the very man he so recently praised?
I have no idea.
But here’s an indication of just what a classy guy he is: all throughout Peden’s campaign website, his professional head shot sits next to a silly photo of Dr. Paul — the kind of photo every human being on earth has taken a zillion times, but which in this case is presumably intended as a stark contrast to the sobriety and deep thinking of Chris Peden.
That’s one of the benefits of running for public office against a gentleman: you can do childish and dishonorable things all campaign long in the full knowledge that your opponent is too decent to reciprocate.
Thankfully, you don’t even need to visit Peden’s website. We’ve already heard every thought he’s ever had every fifteen seconds for years and years.
Thus we read: "I think Islamo-Fascist terrorists were responsible for the 9/11 attacks; the incumbent thinks America’s Middle East policies were responsible for the attacks." (Yes, he really is talking down to his potential constituents like this.) The terrorists "wish to destroy our way of life because they abhor freedom, democracy, and liberty." We should continue to encourage democracy around the world "even if it takes the remainder of the century."
You know what that means — lots and lots of war. And you know what it also means: the politician uttering these inanities has no intention of disclosing the tiniest hint as to where the money for these fantasies is going to come from, what with bankruptcy on our very doorstep.
Being a neoconservative means never having to explain, well, anything.
Assuming Peden has an IQ above 50, he knows he is misrepresenting Ron Paul’s position. Dr. Paul’s argument, which is shared by top terrorism experts, is that our government’s expensive and counterproductive foreign policy has stirred up more trouble than it has alleviated. He’s saying kind of what Russell Kirk — the founder of the modern conservative movement, and no "liberal" — said after the first Persian Gulf War. Good thing for Peden he’s never heard of Kirk.
When the Ayatollah Khomeini called for jihad on the United States in the early 1980s, it went nowhere. When bin Laden called for the same thing but on the specific grounds that the US refuses to leave the Muslim world alone, fighters flocked to his banner. Could it be that our government’s dumb foreign policy, in addition to wrecking our economy, is actually making us less secure?
I’ve explained all of this here.
We also learn that Ron Paul, who has been married to the same woman for 51 years and has five children, 18 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, doesn’t believe in "traditional family values." Peden draws this conclusion on the basis of Dr. Paul’s votes against unconstitutional legislation that would decide social policy at the federal level — you know, the kind of voting record you compile when you favor the "smaller government" that Peden himself falsely claims to support.
Ron Paul "weakens our economy," Peden says, because he doesn’t believe in supranational trade bureaucracies that can dictate tax and regulatory policy to member states — the very thing Republicans rightly opposed half a century ago when it took the form of the International Trade Organization. In those days, supporters of the free market knew a boondoggle when they saw one.
Peden says that opposing the World Trade Organization and NAFTA is "exactly the approach that led us to the Great Depression." Now much as I’d love to hear Peden’s entire collection of learned insights into the Great Depression — really, Peden has done us all a grave disservice over the course of his career by confining his remarks on the subject to this single sentence — I’m still inclined to stick with Ron Paul, who could write a treatise on the causes of the Great Depression off the top of his head.
Of course, as the Federal Reserve’s policies lead the country and the world to the brink of another depression, it is Ron Paul alone who stands tall as the one politician who told the truth all these years about what the geniuses who run our monetary policy have been up to. It is Ron Paul who spoke truth to power, and who understood what Austrian business cycle theory has to teach us about the inevitable devastation that results from expanding the money supply through credit markets.
I wonder, on the other hand, whether Chris Peden even knows what business cycle theory is, but if his bumper-sticker thoughts on the economy are any indication, I probably already know the answer.
As with so many other politicians, the message of "change" turns out to be more of the same. The Federal Reserve has wrecked the dollar and inflated the housing bubble? Then more of the same is just what we need. Or at least that’s what I assume Peden’s position is. Like every other politician in America, he is completely silent on the issue of money and the Federal Reserve, standing idly by while ordinary Americans are silently ripped off year after year. Chances are, he (again like most politicians) doesn’t know the first thing about it. How else can we explain his failure, in the midst of a Fed-induced downturn, to utter a single word about how we got here?
Over $50 trillion in unfunded entitlement liabilities is coming due in the next few decades. The national debt keeps skyrocketing, the dollar keeps plummeting, the prices of necessities are rising, and the housing bubble is bursting. Ron Paul understands these issues — in fact, he’s the only one in the presidential race who’s bothered to bring them up.
A Martian glancing at Chris Peden’s political positions, on the other hand, could be forgiven for assuming that these problems do not exist. It’s all business as usual, full steam ahead. A financial catastrophe is coming? Why, let’s carry on as before! Is this the Peden message that Republican Party hacks in Texas are so excited about?
The rest of Peden’s propaganda is the same old establishment boilerplate, along with a complaint that Ron Paul doesn’t vote for the pork and the corporate welfare that Peden himself promises to support.
This is the genius who is campaigning against Ron Paul. And not merely campaigning against him, but misrepresenting and smearing a man with a voting record unmatched in all of American history in its commitment to freedom, and whose knowledge of economics, foreign policy, and the Constitution makes him an intellectual giant among Washington’s pygmies.
Now instead of being honored and privileged to be represented by a statesman as accomplished and knowledgeable as Ron Paul, State Republican Executive Committee Chairwoman Kathy Haigler supports the city councilman. "For far too long," she says, "[Congressional District] 14 Republicans have been denied the opportunity to be represented by someone who actually believes in and practices the Republican Party Platform, and now they have the opportunity to vote for a solid conservative who will go to Washington D.C. and vote Republican."
Poor Kathy. She’s had to be represented by a constitutionalist for 12 consecutive years. There’s some serious withdrawal for you: twelve whole years without a business-as-usual, platitude-uttering hack as her congressman. She must be getting the shakes.
All that time, her congressman has been the only constitutionalist in the entire Congress, arguably the greatest congressman in all of American history, and a man who is loved and admired all over the world. Only a city councilman mouthing slogans and propaganda and promising pork and bankruptcy can rescue longsuffering Kathy Haigler from this unspeakable ordeal.
Now I don’t care how much you loved Mitt Romney, but no one, not even members of his own family, compared him to Thomas Jefferson. Yet Ron Paul has been compared to Jefferson and the Founders more times than anyone can count. Judge Andrew Napolitano calls him "the Thomas Jefferson of our day."
Running against him — and, it has to be said, running a vigorous campaign that cannot be taken lightly — is not another Thomas Jefferson, to put it kindly. It is a forgettable city councilman who, if his campaign website is any indication, has never had an interesting thought in his life, and for whom the history books will not have a single thing to say. Well, maybe one thing: how did the American people become so debased that the intellectual and moral mismatch between City Councilman Chris Peden and Congressman Ron Paul could actually have been a contest?
Pretty maddening, isn’t it?
Want to let off some steam? Then go here right now.
I’d say we already have just about enough mouthpieces of official propaganda serving in the US Congress. Is it so much to ask for one — just one — congressman who tells the truth?
Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [view his website; send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the author, most recently, of Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass and 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask. His other books include How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (get a free chapter here), The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (first-place winner in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards), and the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.