Note: While re-tracing my research for another follow-up on this issue, it became clear to me that at some point I cross-wired some information. While Paul did in fact make these same excuses for voting against the Parks medal during interviews in 2007, the actual vote took place in April, 1999. Fortunately for us - and unfortunately for Paul - that doesn't change the facts that his "continuing and uncompromising opposition" is neither continuing nor uncompromising - he didn't object to the medal awarded to Gerald and Betty Ford in July of 1998, for instance. Remarks about his later votes in favor of this medal for others remain valid.)
A few months ago I did a video and blog about the various malfeasance of Congressman Ron Paul. I explored his history of bigoted language against blacks and gays. In particular, I discussed his vote in April 1999 against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Rosa Parks.
His precise words, copied and pasted from the Congressional Record, were as follows:
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 573. At the same time, I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies. However, I oppose the Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks Act because authorizing $30,000 of taxpayer money is neither constitutional nor, in the spirit of Rosa Parks who is widely recognized and admired for standing up against an overbearing government infringing on individual rights.
Because of my continuing and uncompromising opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, I must remain consistent in my defense of a limited government whose powers are explicitly delimited under the enumerated powers of the Constitution--a Constitution, which only months ago, each Member of Congress, swore to uphold.
Perhaps we should begin a debate among us on more appropriate processes by which we spend other people's money. Honorary medals and commemorative coins, under the current process, come from allocated other people's money. We should look for another way.
It is, of course, easier to be generous with other people's money.
Remember Paul's objection to the Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks? He cited the cost:
"However, I oppose the Congressional Gold Medal for Rosa Parks Act because authorizing $30,000 of taxpayer money is neither constitutional..."
"$30,000 of taxpayer money" was a blatant lie, which Paul would have known if he’d bothered reading the bill. I know this, because I *gasp* read the bill. Fortunately, there’s a handy copy of it online, so you can read it too! Here’s the important part:
SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS. The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck pursuant to section 2, under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, and at a price sufficient to cover the costs thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses, and the cost of the gold medal.
Now here’s a guy who at the time of this little speech had served off and on since 1976…and yet he still didn’t read the bill before he voted against it.
Note that his arguments against the awarding of any Congressional Gold Medal being "not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution” is meaningless; the first was awarded to George Washington in 1776, you don't get much better endorsement of the founding fathers than that. It should also be noted that the CGM is officially designated as a civilian medal - nitpicking that Paul's objection is based on the military status of the proposed recipient is invalid.
BUT HE DID IT FOR DA TAXPAYERS say the Paul Bearers. HE WAS LOOKING OUT FOR THE LITTLE GUY, WHY SHOULD CONGRESS BE ALLOWED TO STEAL IT'S NOTHING TO DO WITH HER BEING BLACK blah blah blah blah BLAH. Paul defended this decision again several times in 2007 when questioned about it during the US Presidential Primaries (see here, for instance, and note the November 2007 upload date.)
Check this out:
That's the vote, less than three weeks after that video, for the same medal to be awarded to *Burmese* civil rights activist Aung Dan Suu Kyi...and he wasn't bothered enough by that to even cast a vote one way or the other. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi
But that's not the kicker. You go through a couple more of these medals and it’s all voice-vote, there’s no official record of who voted which way, but then you find this.
That's the voting record for the awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal, less than two years later...to FOUR WHITE GUYS. *Four* medals at $30K *each* is okay...for four white guys. One medal to one black lady...not okay, because "authorizing $30,000 of taxpayer money is [not] constitutional."
Oh, and here’s another one, still less than two years after Paul cited his “continuing and uncompromising opposition.” This one’s specific to the 110th IB, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and 6,0000 other Japanese-Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service during WWII.
Huh. No black people there. Votes yes.
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But then it gets real interesting. See, it would be easy to just call Mr. Paul a bigot and be done with it…but as my regular readers know I am deeply committed to integrity, and when I find something that conflicts with my own ideas I don’t just ignore it. That’s what people like…well, like Ron Paul’s fans do. I have to admit that I was rather surprised to see that in spite of his vociferous public objections in late 2007, back in April 2006, Congressman Paul voted in favor of a Congressional Gold Medal – to…The Tuskegee Airmen
Now, I want to be clear here that I have absolutely no disagreement with these medals. I think they were earned and appropriately rewarded. I also want to be clear that I've built up this "racism" argument for the express and deliberate purpose of setting it aside. I think that Paul's racism is apparent, but I also think it's a distraction and not a strong part of his personality one way or the other.
What I have a problem with is understanding exactly what Mr. Paul’s criteria are for finding it appropriate to award these medals. He voted against Jack Nicklaus, which frankly I would have too. Voted against the medal for Ronald Reagan, which I’d even go so far as to say took some guts. Let’s see, what else do we have…against Pope John Paul II and Peanuts creator Charles Schultz. All three of those were in 1998. All three were very high-profile. These four and Parks are the only medals he voted against or raised objection to.
Could it be possible that these were just high-profile situations that Paul sought to milk for publicity to boost his congressional campaigns?
Could it be that he just doesn’t make much sense? That he pulls these little grandstanding moves to artificially create a public image based on lies and manipulation, an opportunist who is willing to discredit even those who have unanimous support, simply for the sake of appearing to be a “man of the people?”
Would that really be what I’ve been trying to say all along? That in spite of his populist rhetoric, in spite of his continued attempts to portray himself as a “man of the people” even while doing things like voting in favor of $30Billion in tax breaks to oil companies – coincidentally, the same amount as the estimated cost of cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico – under the guise of “fighting taxes for the little guy” even though the net result is to increase the tax burden on the poor and middle class, that Ron Paul is above all else…
…just another politician who will do anything to bullshit people into voting for him?
Because let’s face it, folks – this is not a “continuing and uncompromising opposition.” That’s opportunist grandstanding – the willingness to make a fool of one’s self simply to gain media attention. Just like the legal pot thing, just like the “kill everything in the government except the military” thing.
The problem is, when it’s all said and done, Ron Paul’s positions and his voting record are not about civil rights or about individual liberty. They’re about stripping protections against exploitation and abuse out of the law so that giant corporations can continue driving small business (who created 65% of all jobs between 1993 and 2009) out of business while manipulating small business owners and credulous young people into believing the lie that he is on their side.
Why? Because it keeps him in the spotlight, and more than anything else, Ron Paul is all about keeping Ron Paul’s face on television so he can continue raking in donations from people by exploiting their frustration with mainstream political candidates. “Money bombs” and donate for this and donate for that…he’s in it for the money, folks. Not as a principled voice standing up for the little guy, not out of some ideological purity. Ron Paul runs for office because it’s a hell of a lot more lucrative than delivering babies. Period.