Ron Paul's Bad Memory

Written by David Frum on Wednesday January 4, 2012

Odd experience on CNN this morning.

I was on a panel that had a chance to interview Ron Paul. I asked this question:

"I attended a precinct caucus last night where the person who spoke on your behalf praised you as a strong social conservative: pro-life, anti-gay marriage. He also described you as pro-defense, he said you voted in favor of the war in Afghanistan and supported the killing of bin Laden. That's at variance with the things you yourself have said. Would you today affirm that you support the Afghanistan war and the bin Laden killing?"

Paul said yes, but that is not in fact true, at least as to the killing of bin Laden.

In a radio interview with WHO Newsradio 1040, Paul told radio host Simon Conway that, had he been president, he would have pursued an alternate strategy.

"I think things would be done somewhat differently," Paul said, of how he would have handled the situation, citing "respect for the rule of law and world law and international law."

Paul says that instead of sneaking into Pakistan and killing bin Laden, he would have cooperated with the Pakistani government and put the al Qaeda leader on trial - a strategy, he argues, that has worked for the United States in the past.

"I would suggest ...the way they got Khalid [Sheikh] Mohammed," Paul told Conway. "We went and cooperated with Pakistan. They arrested him, actually, and turned him over to us, and he's been in prison."

"What's wrong with that?" Paul asked. "Why can't we work with the government?"

Paul did cast a vote in favor of the September 2001 measure to authorize force in Afghanistan, but only very unhappily according to his ex-aide Eric Dondero:

Ron Paul was opposed to the War in Afghanistan, and to any military reaction to the attacks of 9/11. He did not want to vote for the resolution. He immediately stated to us staffers, me in particular, that Bush/Cheney were going to use the attacks as a precursor for 'invading' Iraq. He engaged in conspiracy theories including perhaps the attacks were coordinated with the CIA, and that the Bush administration might have known about the attacks ahead of time. He expressed no sympathies whatsoever for those who died on 9/11, and pretty much forbade us staffers from engaging in any sort of memorial expressions, or openly asserting pro-military statements in support of the Bush administration.

You wonder: how much of Ron Paul's support in Iowa rested on more successful misrepresentations of his foreign-policy record?

Update: I have added a link to the video from CNN.