When news started spreading that Chris Kyle, a former SEAL and author of the best-selling autobiography American Sniper, was shot dead with a friend over the weekend — allegedly at the hands of a PTSD-suffering former Marine he was trying to help by taking him shooting at a hunting range — conservatives were incensed over the callous tweets of "some on the anti-gun Left." And then this happened:
Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that "he who lives by the sword dies by the sword." Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn't make sense
— Ron Paul (@RonPaul) February 4, 2013
And just like that, the three-time Republican presidential candidate's tenuous coalition of pro-gun libertarians, anti–Federal Reserve goldbugs, and foreign policy non-interventionists crumbled. Paul is an opponent of gun control — saying after December's Newtown, Conn., grade school massacre that "more guns equals less crime" and that "private gun ownership prevents many shootings" — but also of U.S. military adventurism. Kyle, also an outspoken gun-rights advocate, earned a reputation in Iraq as one of the deadliest snipers in U.S. military history. With Twitter erupting in outrage over his comment, Paul took to Facebook to explain himself:
As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend's violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle's family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies. -REP
That not-quite-apology didn't quell the anger or the virtual yelling. "You really are vile," tweeted GOP strategist Rick Wilson; Commentary's John Podhoretz said Paul's tweet was "appalling." The newly liberated Paul "is more callous than ever, with an extra helping of sanctimony and a healthy dollop of anti-military sentiment," say the editors of Michelle Malkin's Twitchy. Not content with just "dancing on the grave of a military hero," Paul poured fuel on the fire by invoking Jesus to justify his "ghoulish" views. Even Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — rumored to have presidential ambitions himself — rushed out a statement to Breitbart.com: "Chris Kyle was a hero like all Americans who don the uniform to defend our country. Our prayers are with his family during this tragic time."
Et tu, Rand? says Ryan W. McMaken at Lew Rockwell's LRC Blog. Yes, "every American soldier is a hero, just like the Bronze-Star-winning Timothy McVeigh and the Marine Lee Harvey Oswald." But Rand isn't the only "sycophantic" conservative throwing Ron Paul under the bus for "truth-telling about the tragic outcomes that are sure to come from time spent in a military where rape, suicide, domestic abuse and general killing are widespread."
Who can be surprised that conservatives... have been falling all over themselves to condemn Ron Paul for quoting Jesus — in correct context, by the way — to note that the violence wrought by over a decade of nonstop war in America leads to tragedy on the home front?... The most transparent were the conservatives who claimed to be former supporters of Paul who must now go support some more "patriotic" politician: One who doesn't actually question anything the military does.... This is what it comes down to for most conservatives, of course. All that stuff about laissez faire and freedom and free markets has never been more than an act and an affectation.... Among conservatives, Ron Paul has only ever had minority support, for in the end, conservatives love government, as exhibited by their latest outrage. They just love it in a slightly different way from the left liberals. [Lew Rockwell]
Well, for better of for worse, this is the genuine Ron Paul, says BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray. Paul has started sending off his own tweets "since he left office," according to a spokeswoman, so "get used to off-the-cuff Twitter activity from the former presidential candidate." Paul's "remarkably offensive 140 character eulogy" is certainly a good reminder why politicians are "protected from scrutiny by both aides trained in press relations and friendly journalistic outlets," says Noah Rothman at Mediaite.
Paul has long opposed American military action... but the former veteran has begun to conflate the missions that he opposes with the men and women who carry those missions out. The sentiment Paul broadcast in this tweet betrays a contempt for Kyle that is, at best, ill-timed.... Paul would be smart to apologize for this insensitive remark, but his political opponents should be thankful for the clarity this unguarded moment has provided the general public. Though the 2012 campaign is long over, Paul's most stalwart supporters continue to insist that the Texas libertarian is the only politician who has the best interests of the troops at heart. This tweet would suggest otherwise. [Mediaite]