Archive for August 15, 2011
With Tim Pawlenty out of the race, only two active Presidential candidates scored more than 10 percent in Saturday’s Iowa straw poll. Following the media coverage Sunday, you would never guess Congressman Ron Paul was one of them.
Paul came within one percentage point of straw poll victor Michele Bachmann at Ames, and scored more than twice as many votes as third-place Pawlenty. After this first-place tie amongst Iowa Republicans, Bachmann dominated Paul among the national media. It’s the story of Paul’s career.
Sure, Bachmann’s media attention is inflated by the “Palin Effect” — the liberal media’s embarrassing dark obsession with attractive and unfiltered conservative women (see the media’s 2010 preoccupation with Christine O’Donnell for another instance) — but there’s more going on here.
If Paul had garnered 153 more votes on Saturday, winning the straw poll, you can be sure that every wrap-up story would have focused on the event’s irrelevance.
Why do the mainstream media and the Republican establishment persist in ignoring and dismissing Paul?
There is no one answer. You cannot chalk it all up to Paul’s perceived long-term viability problems: I know no serious forecaster or GOP operative who gives Bachmann a significant chance of being the Republican nominee, yet she is showered with coverage at every turn.
In part, the media ignore Paul’s success at events like Ames and the Conservative Political Action Committee because they think he’s almost breaking the rules by having such a dedicated following. True enough, a cult following often does not translate into support broad enough to win an election. Is Paul the Right’s Lyndon LaRouche?
Still, Paul climbed from 5th place in the straw poll four years ago to a virtual tie for first yesterday, doubling his number of votes. So he is surging. And don’t forget Democrats nominated a guy last election whose strength was winning caucuses due to a dedicated core of support.
So, again, why doesn’t Paul get the attention he seems to deserve? Mostly because the mainstream media and the Republican establishment wish he would just go away.
One reason the bipartisan establishment finds Paul so obnoxious is how much the past four years have proven him correct — on the housing bubble, on the economy, on our foreign misadventures, and on our national debt.
In 2002, as President George W. Bush was pushing more subsidies for mortgages and home-buying under the motto of an “ownership society,” Ron Paul took to the House floor to issue a warning. Through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Reserve, “the government increases the likelihood of a painful crash in the housing market.”
Fannie, Freddie, and the Fed were creating “a short-term boom in housing,” that would pop. “When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out,” Paul predicted as housing mania surged. “Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss.”
Neither the mainstream media nor the GOP leadership wanted to hear this at the time. Housing was the engine of our growth, and Ron Paul was just being a crank again. So we pumped and pumped, until the inevitable crash.
Paul similarly foresaw our current debt crisis, warning that cutting taxes and increasing spending was the recipe for disaster. “Endless borrowing to finance endless demands cannot be sustained,” Paul said eight years before the S&P downgraded U.S. debt.
Back then Paul was also warning of the perils of two open-ended wars and lengthy occupations halfway around the world. Paul was nearly alone among Republicans in opposing George W. Bush’s Wilsonian vision of spreading American-style democracy at gunpoint. Today, our continued Afghanistan occupation is generally seen as pointless, and even many conservatives consider Iraq a mistake.
Again and again Paul has dissented, been laughed at, and been proven correct. That may be one reason he evokes so much scorn in certain corners of the Right.
But also, Paul lacks the eloquence and self-control to win over the barely-attentive voters that make up most of the electorate. He rambles, sometimes slipping into incoherence, and seems to eschew efforts to cast his outside-the mainstream ideas in a more palatable light. Some GOP disdain for Paul likely comes from a — not unfounded — belief than Obama would wipe the floor with him in a general election.
Barring some miracle, Paul will not be the Republican presidential nominee. The question is this: Will the frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, adopt some of Paul’s ideas and philosophy? Or, like the media and the GOP leadership, will they simply dismiss and disdain this heterodox gadfly?
We know it is all hype and BS, as I called previously with statistics manuvoured here: “Calling “BS” on NBC news”.