Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan endorsed Ron Paul from among the Republican candidates. It is Sullivan's business if he wants to muddle things up by issuing two endorsements (his heart obviously belongs to Barack Obama), but his tribute to Paul lionizes the Texas congressman as a classic "live-and-let-live" libertarian without ever mentioning the deep contradiction in his platform: Ron Paul is virulently anti-choice. First Dennis Kucinich said he would appoint Paul his V.P. And now Andrew Sullivan, defender of gay rights, idealizes the guy. Earth to liberals and moderate conservatives who value individual rights and liberty: Ron Paul is not your guy, at least not if you believe women deserve the same freedom as men.

But it appears Sullivan hasn't given this question any thought. Either that, or he just doesn't care. He writes:

The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. No one in the current field articulates them as clearly and understands them as deeply as Paul. He is a man of faith who nonetheless sees a clear line between religion and politics. More than all this, he has somehow ignited a new movement of those who love freedom and want to rescue it from the do-gooding bromides of the left and the Christianist meddling of the right.

What is "freedom and toleration" without a woman's right to control her reproductive destiny? What is an "ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble" without the acknowledgment that unplanned pregnancy, and the havoc it brings, are features of human life that can not be eradicated? What candidate who stands against "Christian meddling" would strengthen the theocratic movement by allowing states, in the name of religion, to repeal women's rights over their own bodies?

Sure, Paul's assessment of the Iraq war is correct. But his libertarianism is in name only when it comes to half of the population. That isn't so principled, and it isn't so exciting. Paul doesn't deserve the endorsement of any thinking person committed to individual rights.

--Dana Goldstein

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