In his zeal to match libertarianism against the Obama administration (represented by yesterday’s victory by Rand Paul in Kentucky’s GOP primary for the U.S. Senate), Newsweek‘s Obamatron columnist Howard Fineman gets most of his blog post wrong. As I wrote to Mr. Fineman in an e-mail, his post reads more like an internal White House memo. No wonder Newsweek is struggling to survive.
First, he disparagingly asserts that the kooky libertarian Senate candidate is named after Ayn Rand (1905-1982). Wrong, according to the New York Times, hardly her biggest champion; Rand Paul, whose full first name is apparently Randal, is not named for Ayn Rand (source: yesterday’s report in the Times). Howard Fineman goes on to describe Ayn Rand, incorrectly, as a “libertarian” and he implies a philosophical connection, again incorrectly, between the son of Ron Paul and the author of Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand was not a libertarian and her philosophy, Objectivism, precludes libertarianism, which she repeatedly denounced during her lifetime in unequivocal terms. It is factually and intellectually dishonest to describe Ayn Rand as a libertarian. Newsweek should post corrections.
Rand Paul, like his libertarian father Ron Paul, is an anti-abortion Christian “isolationist” and Ayn Rand was an atheist in favor of a woman’s right to an abortion and separation of religion and state who advocated military defense as part of government’s proper function. Fineman, suggesting the White House run against Rand Paul in November’s mid-term elections, admits that he has been struck by what he calls a “collective disdain for the idea of government” during his travels around the country. Is what he found more likely public disdain for government intervention in our lives, not the idea of government as such? There’s a huge difference, but with Howard Fineman declining to let facts get in the way of his ideas for a political campaign, one can never tell. For Ayn Rand’s thoughts on libertarianism, read what she said here.
[Update 11/3/10: Following several attempts to bring Fineman’s errors to his and Newsweek‘s attention, the erroneous column remains uncorrected.]
[Update 2/1/11: Newsweek editor Ben Adler erroneously reported without attribution that Sen. Rand Paul was named after Ayn Rand in his Jan. 28, 2011, column, The Gaggle, but the error as of this writing has apparently been removed without citation or correction. I brought this error to Adler’s attention in an e-mail today, asking him to cite his source and explain the lack of acknowledgement, citation, and correction, and he replied that he is traveling and will respond soon. Howard Fineman’s error remains in the original Newsweek article as of this writing.]
[Update 2/3/2011: Newsweek editor Ben Adler responded via e-mail and stated that Howard Fineman’s error in his original May 2010 column was corrected today. I verified the correction, which, as of this writing, is stated at the end of Fineman’s column.]