From The New Republic’s James Kirchick:
To understand Paul’s philosophy, the best place to start is probably the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Auburn, Alabama. The institute is named for a libertarian Austrian economist, but it was founded by a man named Lew Rockwell, who also served as Paul’s congressional chief of staff from 1978 to 1982. Paul has had a long and prominent association with the institute, teaching at its seminars and serving as a “distinguished counselor.” The institute has also published his books.
The politics of the organization are complicated–its philosophy derives largely from the work of the late Murray Rothbard, a Bronx-born son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and a self-described “anarcho-capitalist” who viewed the state as nothing more than “a criminal gang”–but one aspect of the institute’s worldview stands out as particularly disturbing: its attachment to the Confederacy. Thomas E. Woods Jr., a member of the institute’s senior faculty, is a founder of the League of the South, a secessionist group, and the author of ThePolitically Incorrect Guide to American History, a pro-Confederate, revisionist tract published in 2004. Paul enthusiastically blurbed Woods’s book, saying that it “heroically rescues real history from the politically correct memory hole.” Thomas DiLorenzo, another senior faculty member and author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, refers to the Civil War as the “War for Southern Independence” and attacks “Lincoln cultists”; Paul endorsed the book on MSNBC last month in a debate over whether the Civil War was necessary (Paul thinks it was not). In April 1995, the institute hosted a conference on secession at which Paul spoke; previewing the event, Rockwell wrote to supporters, “We’ll explore what causes [secession] and how to promote it.” Paul’s newsletters have themselves repeatedly expressed sympathy for the general concept of secession. In 1992, for instance, theSurvival Report argued that “the right of secession should be ingrained in a free society” and that “there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it.”
I get this, and you know what, it matters. This is exactly why, if you ask me about Ron Paul’s racist newsletters or how he coddles up to secessionist sympathizers, I won’t say “it doesn’t matter because Paul’s good on other issues”, I’ll say “having a President who doesn’t have a sound understanding of Civil War history may be a deal breaker.” A deal breaker in much the same sense that having a constitutional law professor as president who doesn’t understand that signing an indefinite detention bill is unconstitutional is a deal breaker. Get where I’m going? This conversation isn’t about perfect politicians because they don’t exist. This is about exchanging one set of problems for another. That’s what I’m weighing. (My preference in all this would’ve been Jon Huntsman, but I’m playing the cards I’m dealt.)