Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How to build a big lie: Obama supporter suggests libertarians equate with terrorists--NOT

This is where we've ended up in today's politics.

Eric Dondero, a former Ron Paul aide who has disowned Dr. No and attempted to set himself up as the guru of so-called Mainstream Libertarians, carries this rather inflammatory note on his site:

Obama Campaign attacks libertarians, plus racist CNN footage of Obama's supporters in Indonesia

04/22/08 -- A top Obama aide compared “libertarians” to Terrorists yesterday. NR’s David Frum at In The Corner, has the exact quote.

Intrigued, I went to National Review Online (and it really would have helped had the link Dondero provided gone directly to the quote, but in a moment you'll find out why I suspect that was no accident) to see for myself:

What does astonish me however are the defenses we are beginning to hear from Obama's fellow Chicago academics. Listen to this from Cass Sunstein (a former professor of mine, I should mention):

Ayers is one of numerous people, in the Chicago area, whom Barack Obama has run across. Obama has much closer relationships with numerous conservatives on the University of Chicago faculty, many of whom have given money to Obama's campaign, and many of whom have talked to him at length and been at social occasions with him.

I know for a fact that Obama has actually played basketball with Richard Epstein, a libertarian on the law school faculty who has written some pretty controversial things on property rights and government regulation. I also know that Obama has had a number of conversations with former law school dean Daniel Fischel, a Reagan Republican who has written some pretty controversial things on corporations and government regulation.

Obama himself has equated Ayers' record of treason and violence to the intemperate talk of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. Now Cass Sunstein goes further still - and compares unrepentant domestic terrorism to libertarian theorizing! This is the milieu from which Obama comes, and the more the members of that milieu insist on its basic harmlessness and fundamental compatibility with American life, the more worried I get ....

Now Cass Sunstein may not have produced the most intellectual or morally consistent defense of Barack Obama's associations, but it is clear that the point of the quote is to say that Obama has consistently associated with people from all parts of the political spectrum, with all sorts of views--and not that libertarianism equates with terrorism.

Richard Epstein, for example, while he has no Weather Underground background, is--in a purely intellectual, philosophical, and political sense--a legitimate 180 degree opposite of William Ayers.

Regular readers will know that I am no Obama partisan, although I strive for consistency in criticizing or praising in each instance as merited.

So here's the bottom line: in making the charge that a senior Obama supporter compared libertarianism to terrorism, Eric Dondero and Daniel Crum both know it's a disingenuous charge, and should be ashamed of their distortion.

When it comes to Barack Obama and William Ayers, I will also point out something the Obama campaign seems to have missed: although President Ronald Reagan on multiple occasions confronted the aggressive behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he did not refuse to engage him simply because of his history with the Stern Gang.


tom said...

Eric Dondero, mainstream or not, is the sort of "libertarian" we could use a lot fewer of. He has an unfortunate tendency to lose his temper and say really offensive and stupid things when provoked.

Brian said...

That is NOT a very Libertarian comment. If that is what libertarians think of each other, imagine how that makes us look to democrats and republicans. What a joke that is. As a left libertarian who is interested in the democratic party generally as a partner party to secure people's rights that is as a partner with libertarians, (my pipe dream) I am offended by this guy.

The party of principle and intellect needs one less member.