Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let's get something straight: Ron Paul will never ever be the Republican nominee for president.

My, are Republicans shaking in their boots. If it weren't bad enough that a faux conservative like Mitt Romney seems to be the favourite to win the nomination despite an embarrassingly low ceiling of support from the base (which loathes him), and that a disaster-in-waiting like Newt Gingrich is still a serious contender (if not so much the clear frontrunner he was as recently as just a week ago), GOP bête noire Ron Paul, renegade right-wing libertarian extraordinaire, is threatening to tear the party apart. With Newt's recent decline, he has surged into the lead in Iowa, where his fanatical supporters may propel him to the win, and there's even the possibility he could run as an independent, pulling over enough support to doom the Republican nominee.

Just how worried are Republicans? So worried they're ratcheting up the anti-Paul fervor. As Politico (which is very much in tune with mainstream Republicanism) reports:

Conservatives and Republican elites in the state are divided over who to support for the GOP nomination, but they almost uniformly express concern over the prospect that Ron Paul and his army of activist supporters may capture the state's 2012 nominating contest — an outcome many fear would do irreparable harm to the future role of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Note the clear anti-Paul bias here: He's bad for the GOP and bad for Iowa. And leading conservatives, like National Review's Rich Lowry, are going negative, ratcheting up the attacks:

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is in a bid to make history in Iowa. Can he become the first marginal, conspiracy-minded congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?

In 2008, the surest way to get applause in the Republican primary debates was to excoriate Ron Paul. This year, the Texas libertarian stands much closer to the emotional center of gravity of the party in his condemnations of government spending, crony capitalism, the Federal Reserve, and foreign intervention. He brings 100-proof moonshine to the GOP cocktail party. It can be invigorating and fun, if you ignore the nasty adulterants.

Even if Republicans remain unsure of Romney (to put it mildly), even if they're divided between Mitt and Newt, they're sure of one thing: It absolutely must not be Ron Paul.

And you know what? They're right. While there is much to admire in Paul's support for civil liberties and opposition to American imperial militarism, there's no denying he's a man of the far right. Not only does he not speak for today's Republican Party, which is socially conservative / theocratic and convinced of America's exceptional imperial mission, he promotes an anti-government agenda that is closely connected to extremist right-wing elements. There's just no way the GOP wants to or ever will nominate a man who is opposed to central Republican dogma and who has spent much of his career on the fringe. As Jon Chait explains:

It would be nearly impossible to imagine the Republican Party nominating a candidate who spent years and years publishing a racist newsletter and has deep associations with the fringe far right. (Here he is speaking to the John Birch Society on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.) It would be even more impossible to imagine the Party nominating a candidate who favors total withdrawal from world affairs and takes a Chomsky-ite line on American power. The notion that the Party might nominate a candidate who does both these things is totally preposterous...

Paul's supporters seem to believe that the media ignoring him is the only thing keeping him from challenging for the Party nomination. More likely, it's the only thing that's allowed his candidacy to progress to this point. If more people actually understood the full scope of Paul's fringe-right views, a huge portion of his support would peel off.

I think that's right. Paul has his hardcore support, and that will remain, but many of those who are merely attracted to his anti-government views and who respect him as a man of principle without really knowing much about him would recoil in horror if they knew what he was really all about.

In a recent piece at The Huffington Post on Paul's anti-Newt "serial hypocrite" ad, I included a throwaway line (as the post was mostly about Newt) about how Paul wouldn't win the nomination and was subjected to a blistering response from Ron Paul fanatics in the comments section (now 299 of them), accusing me (as a member of the hated media) of being biased against Paul and just plain wrong. I had been aware of it all along, but it was an up-close-and-personal look into the delusional state of Ron Paul fanaticism. Maybe some of these people know of Paul's fringe politics, but I suspect that most are just on board with his outsider image and anti-government libertarianism. They believe in him, and really want to believe in him, not least because he's something other than the sell-out politics-as-usual that you find in both major parties, someone seemingly authentic in an inauthentic political world.

I understand where they're coming from, and, again, there is much to admire, but his supporters just don't get it. They don't understand how the Republican Party works, nor what it stands for. Paul may well win Iowa, with its ridiculous caucus system, but that would be it. He would go no further. As extreme as he is, he's just not Republican enough for the Republican Party.

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  • "...but his supporters just don't get it. They don't understand how the Republican Party works, nor what it stands for...." - Well, Mr. Professional Writer, you can make any statement you want. That doesn't mean your statements reflect reality. The principles of the GOP have not been honored in recent history by the leaders of the GOP. That is now changing. The GOP mainstream is moving toward Ron Paul's never-changed principled GOP core positions. A little research by you can easily verify this. But ignore this fact. It is counter to your argument. That precious argument is not supported by the facts. Facts destroy illusions. Pesky things.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM  

  • The GOP is moving towards Ron Paul? Really? What world do you live in?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 1:08 AM  

  • Ah let him rant - I want to hear him say "I'll get you and your little dog too."

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:28 AM  

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