The Art of Self-Defeat

At What Cost Defeat?
(just another op-ed)
Republicans are afraid of Ron Paul. And no Republicans fear him more than those running Fox News. It’s a notion less disputed than global warming.
Before Thursday’s Fox News/Google debate had even begun, analysts were discussing the user-submitted questions. Rick Perry’s name appeared the most in questions; Ron Paul’s name came in second place for frequency. The interest in Perry, according to the analysts, was a true reflection of voter sentiment; the high “Ron Paul” count was merely because all his followers are rabid, web-savvy twenty-somethings – not a real indication of his popularity.
The establishment doesn’t like Ron Paul – Jon Stewart said it, and then Fox News rushed to shroud their fanny by interviewing the congressman. I wasn’t fooled. The media loves sexiness – and Ron Paul simply doesn’t have it. Mitt Romney does. And if Rick Perry would keep his mouth shut, no one – including Bill Clinton, apparently – could resist him.
Neither do the voices of right-wing radio appreciate Congressman Paul. Limbaugh generally avoids the topic; Hannity harps on the “five percent” of things Ron Paul says with which he disagrees. The general sentiment seems to be, “Ignore him, and he’ll disappear.”
Still, Paul’s popularity continues to grow, and those in the media find themselves talking about him, whether they like it or not. The question, then, is this: If Ron Paul manages to win the Republican primaries, will his own party accept him? Would they rather leave the country in the hands of Barack Obama, or give it to (in Jon Stewart’s words) “crazy Uncle Ron”? Will some Republicans stay home rather than vote for the candidate Fox News has taught them to distrust, discount, and despise?
The amazing thing about Ron Paul is his ability to attract followers from every band of the political spectrum. Ultra-conservatives love him for his small-government stances. Uber-liberals trust that this man might actually end the wars that their man promised to end, but only perpetuated. Even voters who dislike his ideas are compelled to admit that there are few politicians like him: a man who says exactly what he thinks, with disregard for political strategerie, and whose votes impeccably align with his words.
Could this be the man who bridges our nation’s seemingly impassible political divide? If so, one might ask whether Congressman Paul even needs the establishment Republicans in order to win. Could he glean enough votes from right-leaning Republicans and disillusioned Democrats to overwhelm Obama, in spite of opposition from his own party?
Ron Paul has every reason to remain optimistic, though. He wins a surprising amount of polls, his grassroots support shows no sign of dwindling, and his path is one not untrodden by conservative candidates before him. One – whose name competes with common conjunctions for frequency of usage in recent debates – won the presidency after a campaign strikingly similar to Paul’s. Ronald Reagan won the general elections on his third attempt at the presidency, after being criticized by many in the establishment Republican Party for his ideals, which many saw as being too conservative. A moderate is what they wanted; a conservative is what they got. He beat the Democratic incumbent – Jimmy Carter – whose liberalism sounded nice and worked terribly (many Democrats openly rue the “Carter years”). And now candidates from the right and the left never hesitate to compare themselves with Ronald Reagan.
This is Ron Paul’s third attempt at the presidency. He seeks the nomination from a party who would seemingly rather nominate anyone but him, a party who truly thinks Moderate Mitt can bring them back into power (even after Moderate “Maverick” McCain lost miserably to the sexy Obama). Should he win, he will have defeated the Democratic incumbent whose party has all but disowned him. Also, his full name is Ronald – which may, in reality, be a reason as valid as many others commonly used in selecting a candidate.
The Republican party is at a crossroads. Will they ignore those younger voters who will soon be taking the helm of the party and who, by-and-large, support Ron Paul? Or will they continue down the “neo-con” Bush road – one marked by small-government rhetoric and big government spending, an aversion to social programs but an obsession with global militarism – thereby alienating a significant portion of their base, and potentially losing the 2012 elections to an incumbent against whom it seems nearly impossible to lose? Indeed, if the Republican party ignores Ron Paul, and loses in 2012, one would be forced to wonder: Do they really want to win?

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15 Responses to The Art of Self-Defeat

  1. thedrpete says:

    The rightful sole job of the U.S. federal government is to protect and defend the unalienable rights of Americans collectively as each of them has right to do individually. National defense is, thus, part of the core job. While I am against “nation building”, e.g., in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against protecting and defending others around the world, e.g., our troops stationed in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and elsewhere, I am staunch in my belief that we should be using intel and black ops to search, seek, and destroy Islamofacists wherever they are. Further, we should protect and defend Americans by taking out nutjob “leaders” in, e.g., Iran and North Korea.

    Congressman Dr. Paul is, in my almost-always-humble opinion, bizarrely head-in-sand re: those who are set on destroying us, not for what and where we do, but for who we are. Though I see none of it in you, the worst thing about Dr. Paul is that his followers are in the aggregate the most-obnoxious people on the planet.

    Incidentally, my favorite Republican primary candidate is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

    • I wonder how many people think they understand Islamofascism based largely on what the media or government has relayed to them. I don’t mean that as a slight. I’m just saying that Congressman Paul speaks very clearly and in a very informed way about “blowback,” as though our military actions overseas have generated the majority (not all, but the majority) of hatred that exists toward the U.S. He says this based on CIA people and others in the know, who have testified before Congress or written books that say such things. I think the question one in his position might pose is not, “Could we have prevented every attack on free civilizations by simply not getting involved in other peoples’ business?” BUT “Could we have built quantitatively more goodwill abroad towards the U.S.A. by becoming a friend of nations and supporting free trade whenever possible than the goodwill we built by pre-emptively attacking those who we thought might harm us at some point down the road?”
      In reality, Congressman Paul did vote to pursue Osama bin Laden. So he is also, it seems, in favor of using intelligence and special operations forces to accomplish objectives that are constitutional and that uphold our liberties and maintain our sovereignty.
      But his point simply cannot be ignored that: If Iran gets nukes, there’s no way they’re attacking us first. They’d have to find a way to sneak nukes into our country (or perhaps they could just find a way to detonate one of the thousands of nukes we have sitting around the fruited plains right now?), or subvert our anti-ballistic-missile systems. Additionally, they know that if they detonate a nuke ANYWHERE, it’s all over for them. They’re dunzo. If they care that little about their continued existence as a nation, why do they even maintain themselves now? The same goes for North Korea.
      I’m ALL for a strong national defense. So is the congressman. But global militarism is just bad news.
      Now, as for the obnoxious nature of Ron Paul supporters, I do understand what you’re saying. But you must concede that if a small group really wants to be heard over the noise of the industrial Republican monster machine, well, that small group must scream as loudly as they can.

  2. thedrpete says:

    I believe, TOH, that I understand Islamofascism, none based on either news media or government. I have spent a couple of hundred hours researching and studying. If you understand Islamism, TOH, you would NOT put a nuke in the hands of an Islamist nutjob like Ahmadinijad or his bosses, the Imams.

    Famed (in the Islamist world) Qutb left Colorado State College (now University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley in the late ’50s convinced beyond doubt in his own words and later writings that America and its culture had to be obliterated from the face of the earth. That was just a tad before any American involvement in the Middle East, cited by Paul, occurred. His cause-and-effect argument has a before-and-after problem.

    • As one clearly less-studied, I won’t disagree with your premise. What, then, do you say to my contention that a group surely wouldn’t take a position so oriented toward its own destruction?
      Now, just because we had a cold war doesn’t mean there won’t ever be another nuclear attack anywhere – I know that. The bomb exists, and its existence is not just as a show of power – it can be used. But surely Ahmadinijad knows that if he nuked us (and made it past our ABM systems), we would wipe that country off the map? Would it be worth it to him? To detonate one bomb, and then his life and the lives of his people would end? He wouldn’t have necessarily ended American culture – he’d just blow up one of our cities (if he hit his target…or got close). I’m not saying lives wouldn’t be lost, I’m just saying he wouldn’t accomplish his objective, and we would act with global impunity in taking him and his nation off the map and turning their country into a wasteland. So what’s the point?
      p.s. – thanks for the dialogue

  3. thedrpete says:

    “Alllahu Akbar!” These jihadists are also cultural fatalists. What will be will be . . . if Allah wills it. If one of those nutjobs believes that Allah wills it, then they will gladly commit mass-suicide. The “thinking” might be, so the (American) infidels wipe out 100 million Islamists, the entire population of Iran. That still leaves 2.9 billion Islamists to finish the job, and the Pakistanis have lots of nukes.

    Further, the Chicoms, Russia, and North Korea are all candidates to surreptitiously help with mutual-destruction of Iran and the United States.

  4. suebarber says:

    I would be interested to hear what you see as the weak points of Congressman Paul. I think he’s clearly implied that 9-11 was the result of faulty foreign policy, and that’s just not electable.

    • I think Cong. Paul’s weakness lies in his sometimes-difficulty in communicating clearly what he stands for. He answers questions so specifically that he sometimes misses the opportunity to give a “sound bite.” Sound bites can often help people grab onto something and associate it with a candidate.
      I understand that his stance on 9/11 is not “mainstream.” However, it is becoming more mainstream. It also is supported by the CIA (when they talk about blowback that occurs from our foreign occupational policies) and by Bin Laden’s post-9/11 letter (one of his reasons for the attack was that we attack them on their lands). There are obviously many more considerations. But I do think that it’s quite telling that he gets FAR more financial support from military people than do any of the other candidates.

  5. Claire V says:

    I must agree with Sue…not that that is reason enough not to consider him. Just a valid point. Who wrote this blog? Nathan? Tay?

  6. suebarber says:

    I would like to know where your data comes from on the FAR more financial support. I googled it, and I don’t see the evidence. There’s a Houston Chronicle article that makes that statement, but it’s from 2007. Andrew Sullivan said it, without giving a source for the information. The current financial disclosures don’t specify the line of work of the people who donate that I can find. I don’t have time to go an exhaustive hunt on this, but where is the information you’re quoting coming from ?

  7. thedrpete says:

    I have been warming in the last few days to Ron Paul, along with liking Gary Johnson. Huntsman, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are definite “no’s” for me. Cain, Perry, and Bachmann are “maybes”.

  8. thedrpete says:

    The name of the game here, TOH, is being iterative, like at the optometrist’s office. You know, better or worse, better or worse.

    I’ve learned enough about all of the candidates to identify their warts. Thus, out are Romney, Huntsman, Santorum, and Gingrich. Others’ warts, I think, are not necessarily deal-breakers, including Ron Paul’s.

    I would note — just for the record — that my heart has zip to do with it. My mind has been gathering and processing information, and so my thinking is evolving.

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