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There is a rumor out there, promoted last night by Chuck Todd via twitter, and repeated by Andrew Sullivan (whose analysis I greatly admire, other than his Paul fixation), that Ron Paul voted for the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.  Here is Todd’s real-time debate tweet. 

@chucktoddChuck Todd
When Paul talked about MLK, made me curious. Paul voted YES for MLK holiday; Gingrich, BTW, voted NO. http://bit.ly/zKsSmI

This is not true.  What he voted for was a change of date for the holiday, not the holiday itself. Ron Paul never voted for the MLK holiday–ever.  His former chief of staff, Lew Rockwell, who is said to have written Paul’s newsletters under the pseudonym “Ron Paul,” even called it “Hate Whitey Day.”

Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.

Whether it was written by Paul or by his chief of staff, the use of first person is disturbing.  It is difficult to believe that this is a newsletter from a United States congressman.  Then last night at the New Hampshire debate, Ron Paul had the nerve to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. is “one of my heroes” because his methods were, in Paul’s view, very much in the spirit of his own libertarian do-it-yourself values.   What then would Paul make of the fact that MLK very publically solicited help from JFK and the federal government in his cause.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, as usual, is on the case.  This morning he walks his readers through the facts in another beautifully reasoned blog post at the Atlantic (that is where I was first alerted to all this, including the quote from the newsletter).

Addendum: I see that Chuck Todd has corrected this on his twitter stream.  I expect that Sullivan will address this as well.

Correction (12:23AM, January 9): As a reader points out, Chuck Todd didn’t really correct his error.  He never even admitted that he made a mistake.  He merely offfered a “clarification.”

To clarify, the roll call for the 1983 House vote on making MLK’s birthday a federal holiday; http://bit.ly/sbCZin; Paul NO, Gingrich YES

Buck up Chuck.  “Mistakes were made.”

Update: Andrew Sullivan gives TNC a shout-out, but his correction is qualified. After quoting TNC on the actual vote that Paul cast, Sullivan adds:

There’s this piece of evidence that seems to vindicate Paul. But it’s merely about when to recognize the holiday, not whether to, so far as I can tell.

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