What happened
Maverick GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul said on Thursday that he didn’t write racist remarks published in a newsletter that bore his name in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the newsletters, which were unearthed by James Kirchick this week in The New Republic, said that order was restored after 1992 riots in Los Angeles when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.” (CNN.com)

What the commentators said
Paul’s response was “shockingly blase,” said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. “To be fair,” Paul’s by-line didn’t appear over any of the “racist, anti-Semitic, gay-hating rhetoric,” and his campaign has “been utterly devoid of this garbage.” But he “seems indifferent to both the poison of bigotry, and of the moral necessity of disassociating oneself from those who advocate it.”

The man even had the nerve to suggest this old news was being dredged up as some sort of plot against him, said Julie Mason in the Houston Chronicle. “By all other appearances, Paul is not a racist, and his explanation is plausible,” but he’s a candidate for president, for pity’s sake. His past writings and statements are fair game.

The content of the newsletters isn’t some bombshell dropped unexpectedly, said Matt Welch in Reason. Journalists asked him about this stuff seven years ago during his congressional campaign in Texas. In all those years, Paul has never “really disassociated himself from” these newsletters, or, if he has, it hasn’t been “recorded by the Nexus database.”

“It is not an adequate response to shoot the messenger,” said David Freddoso in National Review Online. It’s true that nothing in these newsletters “squares” with Paul’s messsage of “freedom and personal responsibility.” But it’s not his libertarian philosophy that’s been challenged, it’s his character. Reading this racist material was like a “gut-punch” for those of us who hoped he’d become president, and Paul owes everyone a real explanation.