I Don't Want to Attack Glenn Greenwald, but if I Must, I Must

Glenn Greenwald is a great writer, a cogent scholar, and a tireless fighter for civil liberties, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. But in the case of Ron Paul, Glenn has a blind spot the size of Jupiter, and it seems to swallow everything.

Today's case in point begins with Dana Goldstein, who notes that it's hard to square Paul as a true civil libertarian given his reactionary stance on abortion:
Ron Paul is virulently anti-choice. First Dennis Kucinich said he would appoint Paul his V.P. And now Andrew Sullivan, defender of gay rights, idealizes the guy. Earth to liberals and moderate conservatives who value individual rights and liberty: Ron Paul is not your guy, at least not if you believe women deserve the same freedom as men.
Indeed. One needn't even get into Ron's games of footsie with the racist fringe to see that Paul is very invested in civil liberties when it affects the rights of white men, not as much when it affects anyone else. He has decent views on Iraq and on gay rights, but his views on race and gender are nightmarish, and his views on eliminating the government are Utopian, to put it charitably, and foolish, to put it bluntly.

But Greenwald doesn't want to hear about Paul's failings. Instead, he wants to build large strawmen so he can knock them down.

Paul seems to be one of the very few candidates who has made the erosion of constitutional liberties a centerpiece of his campaign, and is the only candidate with a credible campaign making a substantive case against the premises of America's imperial, militaristic role in the world (i.e., not merely objecting to the invasion of Iraq on cost-benefit grounds but rejecting the core premises that led to it and other U.S. interventions against countries that haven't attacked us).

It's hard to see why a pro-choice politician who affirms the basic premises of America's imperialism and who has no real intention to roll back the massive abuses of the Constitution is any more acceptable in decent company than a pro-life politician who repudiates America's war-making and who does intend to do what is possible to restore America's basic constitutional framework. How do those issues get weighed exactly? And who, in Goldstein's view, are the candidates with sterling records across the board on liberty, war-making and constitutional rights, whom a "thinking person committed to individual rights" can enthusiastically support?
The perfect candidate doesn't exist, of course; I know it, you know it, the American people know it. And alas, too many candidates are not adequately pushing to restore America's constitutional liberties.

Ron Paul's one of them.

Paul has tried, repeatedly, to pass the "We the People Act" through Congress. If enacted, it would remove from the courts the jurisdiction to try cases related to abortion, religion, sexual practices, and same-sex marriage, including, according to the text of the law he authored, the right to privacy. That's not a minor quibble; that's a shot at the exhaust port that is the weak point in our Constitutional system of government.

You see, the frightening thing about Paul's bill is that it might pass Constitutional muster. Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution states:
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. [Emphasis mine]
Now, there is a good chance the Supreme Court would find a reason to ignore that language, or construe it to mean something other than what it seems to mean, and frankly, they should, if we are to value liberty. In theory, if this language stood, Congress could steer any case out of court they wanted to -- or all cases.

Paul's bill would tilt the delicate balance of power in government no less than Bush's overreaching has. Not only would it do immediate damage to gays, lesbians, women, and anyone who engages in "sodomy," it would open a Pandora's box, freeing Congress to declare that the courts shall try no case regarding, say, Amendment I of the Constitution.

And that would render the Constitution meaningless.

In short, Paul's attempted power grab for Congress is not the act of someone who respects liberty and believes in limited government. It is the action of someone willing to subordinate the principles of liberty and the Constitution itself to his own purposes, when it's convenient for him to do so. Very much like the man in office today, in fact. There are pieces of Paul's philosophy that are not dangerous, and certainly he has been on the right side on torture and international military adventurism. But claiming he is a forthright warrior for liberty and justice is simply giving him credit he does not deserve.

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