This video is going to cause me and my party no end of trouble — or maybe it’s just a way to mess up the Republican Party, who might think that they could get away with nominating Rand Paul for Vice-President without ending up with a dead Presidential nominee — but I think that, with a bow towards the Libertarian Gold-and-Green coalition that thrives in Orange County, fairness requires that I post it:
Yep — Julian Assange of Wikileaks, interviewed by a conservative college news organization — has come out with a hearty endorsement of the “libertarian wing” of the Republican Party, saying that Ron and Rand Paul were pretty much the only hope for progress on the issues of concern to him. (Paramount among those issues: support of him personally.) He dismisses the mainstream Republican Party, the entire (“compromised”) Democratic Party, and even Ralph Nader (low blow!) as being of any value in electoral politics.
So, there you have it: right-wingers, he’s officially yours. Take good care of him.
One misconception seems to have already arisen from my colleagues on the Left (or whatever it is we are after this video.) To be scrupulously fair — which I’m really trying to be, especially given that I think that he raises good points on secrecy, drones, and the security state — I’ll address it here despite that this is not the day that I feel warmest towards Assange.
Listen to the interview: he did not endorse the anti-abortion position of Ron and Rand Paul. He just sort of excused them.
He said (starting at around 2:00) that he’s a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul; that they’ve been the strongest defenders of him and of Wikileaks; that they’ve been the strongest opponents of drone warfare and extrajudicial executions; that the Pauls present a consistent position of “non-violence, which is the American libertarian intellectual tradition.” (He’s referring there, as I presume he knows, to “isolationism.”)
Assange says that the putative commitment to non-violence leads the Pauls to positions such as “don’t go invade a foreign country”; “don’t force people, at the barrel of a gun, to serve in the U.S. Army” (which suggests that someone ought to tell him that the draft ended 40 years ago — and that now it’s the libertarian-inspired “poverty draft” that gets unwilling people to join the military); “don’t extort taxes from people to the federal government ” (here mentioning something difficult to hear about the police, which I couldn’t hear over the sound of my teeth grinding); — and then, at 3:24, what for many of his heretofore supporters would be the jaw-dropper:
“… similarly, other aspects of non-violence in relation to abortion”
Some people have taken this as an endorsement of anti-abortion ideology. It’s not quite that; it’s recognizing that the Pauls take this position and that that’s how they couch it. He continues that he sees where this position “can come from the same underlying libertarian principles,” but that “the world is often more complex” and that “by taking a no doubt principled but simplistic position you sometimes end up undermining the principle.”
Still, this is a lot like saying that “yes, my allies do support the stoning to death of women who have been raped, but it may just be an over-extension of a generally admirable ideology of resisting Western imperialist pressure.” It may well be that, Julian — but you left out the part about it being “not a good idea,” so good luck defending it from women who would now like to see you eaten alive by vultures.
So, tempting as it might be for us Democrats (even somewhat sympathetic ones) to consign Assange to the anti-abortion camp — and as much as I disagree with his own no doubt principled but simplistic read of American politics — let’s not mischaracterize what he said. In talking to a conservative audience, he tried to gloss over what I will charitably presume is a policy difference with general agreement and mild specific criticism as a tactical matter. In other words — he offered a nuanced political statement to supporters, but did not himself come out against abortion.
It just sort of sounded that way.
Still, he’s going to fry for this with a lot of Americans who have, until now, been sympathetic. The notion that Assange may suffer from words being taken out of context — unfair as it is — is at least a fitting fate for an advocate of leaking.