Apology to Debbie Hopper

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In a previous column of mine (“A Not So Funny Thing Happened to Me in Tampa.” August 30; ), I said this:

“In the aftermath of these three presentations of mine came two more highly critical comments on my lecture at the official Ron Paul gathering on Sunday. One came from a highly ranked spokeswoman in the Ron Paul camp. I will not mention her name, so as to save her from embarrassment. She accused me of, in effect, contract violation. She said that I was told, and agreed to, speak about monetary policy, the gold standard, etc. How dare I betray their trust by talking about something entirely different, a topic, moreover, that infuriated a lot of Ron Paul supporters? She claimed that another highly placed member of the Ron Paul community had made this obligation of mine very clear to me (these are paraphrases of what she said to me, based on my recollection of this very disturbing conversation). The worst thing she said to me was that Ron Paul was upset with me.

“My reply to her was that neither was I was told nor did I agree to any such thing. That had I been asked to speak about monetary issues, or any other topic within my competence, I would have enthusiastically agreed to do so, and would have stuck to my promise. I take pride in living up to my agreements. In the last 50 years, I must have given thousands of public speeches. There must be therefore thousands of hosts who will attest that I never, ever, not even once, agreed to speak on a given topic and then without permission lectured on something else entirely. I certainly would have complied with any promise as to topic with the Ron Paul people, or with anyone else. But the only discussion I had with anyone as to the subject of my presentation was with Ron Paul himself. And the only thing he asked me to do in our two telephone conversations was to ‘stick to ideas,’ ‘do something substantive’ (again, this is a paraphrase of our conversation, to the best of my recollection). Ron told me that he wanted me not to speak about present day politics and political realities, which were ephemeral, but to emphasize ideas, since they would have a shelf life way into the future. Neither Dr. Paul, nor anyone else, had so much as mentioned ‘monetary policy’ or any other specific topic. I tried to convey all this to that woman, but she walked off in a huff, very angry with me.”

Debbie Hopper is the woman I mentioned. She is indeed “a highly ranked spokeswoman in the Ron Paul camp.” She was in charge of Advance and Events for the Ron Paul presidential campaign. This is humiliating and embarrassing for me to say, but I was entirely mistaken with regard to my reaction to her unhappiness with my choice of topic. I said to her that I had never agreed to give any specific speech; that Ron Paul only wanted me to be “substantive,” and I certainly was that. However, I was entirely mistaken in this. Very much to the contrary, I had indeed agreed to speak about my Ron Paul book (Block, Walter E. 2012. Yes to Ron Paul and Liberty. New York: Ishi Press). Had I stuck to my agreement, I would have spoken about Dr. Paul’s foreign policy (peace, bringing the troops home, and a strong defense); about his economic perspective (support for private property rights, gold as money, ending the fed and economic regulations); and his stance on personal liberties (stopping the war on drugs, calling a halt to outrages such as NDAA). Also, as one of the founders of Jews for Ron Paul, I would have defended him against the malicious charge that he is an anti-Semite. I would have mentioned these things because that is what the book is all about. Had I done so, I would have fulfilled my promise, and Debbie would not have had to upbraid me for my broken promise. She was entirely justified in doing so. Looking at matters from my present perspective, she handled me with kid gloves, given the enormity of my error.

Why did I do this? Why did I give a speech entirely different than the one I promised to give? I just plain forgot my promise to the Ron Paul people who had invited me to give this talk. I honestly believe that this was the first time I ever did any such thing. There may well be “thousands of hosts who will attest that I never, ever, not even once, agreed to speak on a given topic and then without permission lectured on something else entirely.” However, there is now this one exception, to my utter shame.

To say that I have learned an important lesson from this episode of mine would be a serious understatement. In the future, I will certainly be more careful to abide by promises and obligations, and to adhere to agreed upon topics in my public speaking undertakings.

I want to thank Debbie Hopper, and also Ron Paul, for the gentle way they have both treated me in the aftermath of my Tampa speech. As I said to both of them in personal communication, “Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I don’t think I have ever been as embarrassed in all of my professional life as I am now. I have no excuse at all. My only explanation is that I simply forgot about my agreement. Not only do I now apologize to you, Debbie, for what I did, I also also apologize for my initial reaction to your entirely justified, and very measured criticism.”

I also apologize to Ron, to the approximately 11,000 attendees, and to the many more people who witnessed my contract-violating talk via the web. I thank you, Debbie, for your graciousness in realizing that I would never, ever do anything of this sort purposefully.

9:32 am on September 8, 2012