“Crackpots don’t make good messengers”

For the record, I have no intention of voting for Ron Paul in the General election (though depending on how the GOP primary rolls out, I might consider crossing over to vote for Paul in the MI primary, for similar reasons as I voted for John McCain in the 2000 primary: because I knew my vote wouldn’t matter in the Democratic primary and I hoped a McCain win might slow down George Bush’s momentum and focus some attention on campaign finance reform, McCain’s signature issue at the time).

I don’t want Ron Paul to be President and, for all my complaints with Obama, he is a less bad presidential candidate than Paul.

But that’s an entirely different question then the one Kevin Drum purports to address with this post:

Should we lefties be happy he’s in the presidential race, giving non-interventionism a voice, even if he has other beliefs we find less agreeable? Should we be happy that his non-mainstream positions are finally getting a public hearing?

Drum doesn’t actually assess the value of having a non-interventionist in the race, or even having a civil libertarian in the race (which he largely dodges by treating it as opposition to the drug war rather than opposition to unchecked executive power), or having a Fed opponent in the race.

Instead, he spends his post talking about what a “crackpot” Paul is, noting (among other things), that Paul thinks climate change is a hoax, thinks the UN wants to confiscate our guns, and is a racist.

Views, mind you, that Paul shares in significant part with at least some of the other crackpots running for the GOP nomination.

Of course, Paul does have views that none of the other Republicans allowed in Presidential debates share. And that’s what Drum would need to assess if he were genuinely trying to answer his own question: given a field of crackpots, several of whom are explicit racists, several of whom make claims about cherished government programs being unconstitutional, most of whom claim to believe climate change doesn’t exist, is it useful that one of the candidates departs from the otherwise universal support for expanded capitulation to banks, authoritarianism, and imperialism? Is it useful to do so leading up to a General election with a Democrat who has been weak against banks, expanded executive authority, and found new Muslim countries to launch drone strikes against?

Before I get into the reasons why it is, let me address a completely false claim Drum makes.

Ron Paul has never once done any of his causes any good.

Paul, of course, succeeded in getting a limited audit of the Fed’s bailout done. That hasn’t resulted in the elimination of the Fed, but it has educated a lot of people about the vast power of the Fed and showed how far government efforts to prop up the banks really went in 2008 and 2009. Of course, he did so in partnership with Alan Grayson, someone who doesn’t embrace all of Paul’s views but nevertheless demonstrates why Drum’s advice that those who share some views with Paul, “should run, not walk, as fast as you can to keep your distance from Ron Paul” is bad advice. We live in a democracy, and it’s far easier to get laws passed if members of both parties support them.

And it’s not just the Fed. By providing space to support civil liberties and oppose the war on the right, Paul slowed the steam roll in support of the PATRIOT Act, SOPA, the detainee provisions of the NDAA, and the wars. In these areas, he may not have had the limited but notable success he had with the Fed, but if–for example–Dianne Feinstein’s effort to specifically exclude Americans from indefinite military detention has any success, it will in part be because Paul and his son mobilized opposition to indefinite detention on the right.

But all that explains why it has been useful to have Paul–bolstered by his 2008 campaign, which seems to disprove Drum’s promise that, “in a couple of months he’ll disappear back into the obscurity he so richly deserves”–in the House. That doesn’t explain why it is useful to have him polling at almost 20% in the GOP race in IA.

Because that is, after all, what we’re talking about. So when Drum scoffs at those who have, “somehow convinced yourself that non-interventionism has no other significant voices except Ron Paul,” when we’re talking about the Presidential race, I want to know what race he’s been watching? While Gary Johnson supports non-interventionism, he’s not a significant voice. In this presidential race, which is what Drum purports to be talking about, there are no other significant voices supporting non-interventionism or championing civil liberties.

And without a such a candidate–without someone playing the role Obama sort of did until July 9, 2008–then the focus of the billion-dollar political debate in the next 11 months will focus primarily on who will more aggressively crack down on Iran and how many more civil liberties the President must dissolve to wage war against significantly weakened terrorists. Ron Paul’s presence in the race not only exposes voters to commonsense but otherwise impermissible observations–such as that the detainees we’re holding are, with just a handful of exceptions, suspects, never proven to be terrorists in a trial. But his presence also raises the cost for Obama for not addressing his past claims and promises on civil liberties.

And then, of course, we lefties are supposed to be trying to defeat these right wing nutjobs. Drum may think Paul toxic, but his views are equally toxic to the rich donors paying for these Republican candidates. And while Paul doesn’t threaten to become a viable anti-Mitt, he can (and did, in 2008) stay in this race long enough to be an annoyance to GOP claims to unity. All the time by differentiating himself with issues–anti-imperialism, civil libertarianism, and anti-banksterism–for which Paul is the only significant voice in this election. Twelve years ago, my support for a policy that I supported, championed by a flawed messenger, contributed in a small way to making Bush spend more money and reveal his loathsome (if transactional) racism in South Carolina. That didn’t make Al Gore the winner, but it didn’t hurt. Why would we categorically oppose something similar to happen to Mitt Romney?

As Drum himself notes, there’s no danger that by calling out those areas where Paul is good, he’s going to be elected President and implement his more loathsome ideas. “Ron Paul is not a major candidate for president.” But for those guarding the DC common sense, support for Paul in these areas does seem to present real danger.

It’s telling, ultimately, that Drum’s piece, which doesn’t prove what it purports to (that having Paul in the Presidential race is bad for lefties) but does call him a crackpot crackpot crackpot, is a near mirror image to this Michael Gerson column, which points towards the very same repulsive stances–as well as some downright commonsense ones–as Drum to call Paul a scandal.

No other recent candidate hailing from the party of Lincoln has accused Abraham Lincoln of causing a “senseless” war and ruling with an “iron fist.” Or regarded Ronald Reagan’s presidency a “dramatic failure.” Or proposed the legalization of prostitution and heroin use. Or called America the most “aggressive, extended and expansionist” empire in world history. Or promised to abolish the CIA, depart NATO and withdraw military protection from South Korea. Or blamed terrorism on American militarism, since “they’re terrorists because we’re occupiers.” Or accused the American government of a Sept. 11 “coverup” and called for an investigation headed by Dennis Kucinich. Or described the killing of Osama bin Laden as “absolutely not necessary.” Or affirmed that he would not have sent American troops to Europe to end the Holocaust. Or excused Iranian nuclear ambitions as “natural,” while dismissing evidence of those ambitions as “war propaganda.” Or published a newsletter stating that the 1993 World Trade Center attack might have been “a setup by the Israeli Mossad,” and defending former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and criticizing the “evil of forced integration.”

Each of these is a disqualifying scandal. Taken together, a kind of grandeur creeps in.

Neither wants to deal with the downright logic (and deserved widespread support) of some of Paul’s views. They both seem to want to, instead, suggest that any deviation from the DC consensus is lunacy (and lunacy of a kind not exhibited by Bachmann, Perry, Newt, and Santorum).

The question of whether it is good to have Paul audibly in the Presidential race–which is fundamentally different from whether we want him to be President–is ultimately a question of whether it is good to have a diversity of views expressed in our democratic debates. Neither Drum nor Gerson object here to the lunacy espoused by the other GOP candidates, per se–the ones that espouse lunacy embraced by the DC consensus, what Drum approvingly calls the “mainstream.” So what is so dangerous in having Paul’s ideas–both sound and repulsive–expressed?

I’m perfectly comfortable having Paul exposed–as he has been–as a racist over the course of this race. Why are Drum and Gerson so upset that the other candidates might be exposed as authoritarians and imperialists in turn?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

48 replies
  1. Bruce Miller says:

    I”m perfectly happy to have Papa Doc support liberals in Congress on particular issues, whether it’s auditing the Fed or opposing some ill-conceived military intervention.

    But even Papa Doc’s seemingly non-interventionist foreign policy ideas come from the worldview he has promoted all his political career: he’s a hardcore, unrepentant Southern segregationist and Bircher conspiracist. His foreign policy isn’t a quirky departure from that, it’s part and parcel of his worldview.

    Michael Cohen does a decent job of discussing it in this “Foreign Policy” piece: http://bit.ly/xRnREl Papa Doc is opposed to participation in all international organizations including the Birchers’ bogeyman, the United Nations. He’s opposed to all arms-control treaties and all climate change treaties. (For that matter, he’s opposed to domestic laws on climate change, too.) And of course any and all international law commitments like the Geneva Conventions and the Torture Convention treaty would have to go. His foreign policy is as xenophobic as his hostility to immigrants. There’s no way this adds up to a peaceful foreign policy.

  2. MadDog says:

    Crossing over and voting for Ron Paul is one of multiple strategies I’ve heard about. To illuminate and give voice to some of RP’s “sane” positions is as valid a reason as there is.

    The remaining strategies I’ve heard talked of seem to be about denying Mitt Romney’s direct nomination and forcing a brokered Repug convention. That too seems like a worthwhile objective to many on the Democratic side if only to snarl things up and demoralize the Repug base.

    My choice to hamstring Romney had been Rick Perry, who I believed could satisfy the Repug base, but never the general electorate, but his dumb-as-a-stump campaign performances have rendered him mostly impotent this time around in 2012.

    The chances for a brokered Repug convention have diminished without a singular strong consensus anti-Romney candidate, and unless there are some major moves in the caucuses and primaries post-New Hampshire, Mr. One Percenter looks to be the last fool standing.

  3. ron says:

    Paul would be a welcome change from the military dominated political hacks including Obama! His views on climate change etc are small issues compared to bringing the men home and cleaning up the CIA and related security services. In order to have change in our security mentality it has to start at the top with someone who is willing to bring the defense establishment under civilian control. He is in fact the only one I would vote for!

  4. shekissesfrogs says:

    Here is Huntsman’s second ad attacking Ron Paul; I’m not sure if he’s trying hurt him or help him.

  5. bmaz says:

    Just my thoughts:

    Paul is a useful tool for emphasis and contrast on several very critical issues. Paul is actually good, and even correct, on a few critical issues. Would I ever vote for him, or desire him, as President? No fucking way; dude is a crank and a crackpot.

    If I were so completely done and through with Obama, I would simply go vote for the guy that could and would unseat him so as to show the maximum “I do NOT stand for this shit you idiot complicit Democrats” message, and that is a guy who could win, most likely Romney. If I make a protest vote, which despite all my bitching may be unlikely, I WILL vote, and I will vote to maximize my disgust with the current Dem bleating adherence to the MOTUs and drug and foreign war mongering typified by Barack Obama. I won’t sit out or stay at home, I will make my protest count by screwing that ethos as hard as I can. All extremely unlikely, because one really does have to minimize evil and think of the potential effects on SCOTUS.

    If it were not for concerns about the next 25 years of SCOTUS, however, I would have no compunction whatsoever about screwing Barack Obama as hard as I possibly could. The fucker has gained that the old fashioned way, he has earned it.

  6. JohnLopresti says:

    Where are the Democratic party challengers for the presidency? There needs to be more than ratification. Obama needs to hear dialog from the full spectrum of Democratic conventioneers. How does the Democratic party platform get written this year? Obama could use an admix of good ideas. I suppose, like a favorite evasive comment from senator Feinstein, in this regard Obama is keeping the powder dry until after the primaries. !What Republican miasma is filling the column inches these days!

  7. GKJames says:

    Attacks on Ron Paul are odd. First, there’s the idea that, unless each and every policy position of his is agreeable to all, he’s nuts. Is that a standard applied to any other candidate? Second, in contrast to the countless poseurs across the political landscape, he strikes me as the only one with an actual political philosophy, a set of principles that doesn’t depend on the particular constituency he happens to be talking to. One would think that the public would appreciate both the courage to stand by a position, as well as the fact that the candidate is in fact offering a clearly articulated choice to voters.

    And then there’s the crackpot theory, which reflects two dynamics: appeals to the visceral and condescension. Both say much more about the slinger of the theory than they do about Ron Paul. A case in point — to go with the Drum and Gerson pieces cited here — is Richard Cohen’s gem in today’s Washington Post. The title, “Paul’s amoral [foreign] policy,” gets things off to a delightfully obtuse start. In which alien universe does one have to be so as not to know that morality and US foreign policy have been antonyms for decades, but especially since 2001?

    The gist of Cohen’s argument against Ron Paul’s “isolationism?” Hitler. Never mind that this flatulent analogy simply reflects intellectual bankruptcy. Cohen insists that Ron Paul’s is a foreign policy, “if it can be called that [!], drained of morality” meaning, presumably, that unless the US is knee-deep supporting countless execrable regimes against their peoples, the world will go under. Further, it sets an apparently new analytical standard: a policy based on an objection to military intervention in other countries equates with amorality. Not a word about Ron Paul’s repeated references to foreign relations based on mutual respect, free trade, and peaceful interaction, i.e., relationships based on something other than coercion.

    His foreign policy position might not be enough to vote for Ron Paul were he the Republican candidate. But a persuasive argument could be made that, whereas in the domestic context, there’d be enough institutional checks and balances to blunt the more drastic effects of his policies, outside the US — and given how a supine Congress and a supine establishment press have permitted the accumulation of (frequently deadly) Executive-Branch power — having a president who advocates restraint in the use of military force is not at all a nutty option.

  8. MadDog says:

    @GKJames:

    “Attacks on Ron Paul are odd. First, there’s the idea that, unless each and every policy position of his is agreeable to all, he’s nuts…”

    No, I beg to differ. You seem to be misinterpreting some folks’ analysis. And furthermore, you seem to be projecting your misunderstanding into a straw man.

    Firstly, Ron Paul is nuts. That he may have a policy or philosophical viewpoint or two that you like doesn’t change the underlying basic nuttiness.

    So that we don’t go off on the verboten tack of Hitler analogies, let’s try instead some anonymous nutjob serial killer.

    The correct analogy to make here is that just because the anonymous nutjob serial killer is nice to small children and cute little furry pets, those shared values with the rest of the human race are of no real import and are irrelevant in determining that anonymous nutjob serial killers are an evil blight on the human race.

  9. Bob Schacht says:

    Thanks for this analysis, EW! I agree, and have been thinking along similar lines. I am almost willing to vote for him just because he’s against the AUMF, and no one else is. IMHO, the AUMF is at the root of most of the evil in the Obama administration.

    Bob in AZ

  10. posaune says:

    OT:
    I’m weeping over today’s death of Gordon Hirabayashi, an American citizen of Japanese origin, convicted for his refusal to be interned under EO 9066 in 1942. His conviction was overturned by the 9th circuit in 1987. Tragic he had to live to see his courage undermined by the newly signed NDAA.

  11. Bob Schacht says:

    Sorry for the O/T, but Michigan has about the ugliest lead ever in a bowl game.

    Memo to Bradley Hoke: more short quick passes. Denard doesn’t have time for the long, slow-developing pass plays.

    Bob in AZ

  12. jerryy says:

    This is almost surrealism squared to get that Rep/Lib Congressman Paul is being considered as something of the antidote to the caustic authoritarianism of the Dem President Obama.

    Okay, suppose Congressman Paul wins the election. His positions on federal drug policy (war), undeclared and semi-declared wars, police state civil liberty intrusions, etc. are (regardless of why) are ones that many left leaning and non-interventionist folks like. He would keep mostly our soldiers home and not fill prisons with minorities guility of being charged with drug related offenses, and audit the Fed’s transactions with Wall Street. In spite of his reasons for holding these views, his actions would get lots of domestics support to overcome congressional and institutional opposition. Enough to make a congressional veto override a difficult proposition. It is awfully strange to say a candidate should not only have the right views, but the right reasons for having those views.

    On some of his economic and other policies, he would be opposed by the left leaning folks, would they actively act in oposition or be lulled into apathy? Would opposition be enough to engage Congressional engagement and make a veto meaningless? Lots of folks are single issue voters and do not want to babysit government. Too busy looking for jobs or trying to hang onto them or trying to have a family or life or … or spend time worrying about what they might lose with a new person when they know for sure what they have lost with the old person (jobs, homes, soldiers, family members deported or sent to jail, etc.).

    If only the unicorns would come out of hiding and give the Democrats an actual challenge to President Obama, this Congressman Paul talk would just be idle speculation, and how weird that it is not.

  13. Tom in AZ says:

    They just can’t stand to have Paul out there on the trail, on the podium, on camera. Because despite all the reasons he should never be President which Marcy and others have pointed out, on any given night when he finally gets a chance to talk he will look MORE SANE than half the others on stage with him.

    And unless they can get him out of the mix, it will keep happening. I’m hoping he hangs in there. I mean, Man on Dog? Seriously? If Romney wasn’t such a world class douche bag one could almost feel for the guy. Being surrounded by this bunch, and having the crowds actually lean toward them has to gall his ass.

    And make me smile. Hopefully Paul can make Obama squirm some between now and Nov. because his own party won’t.

    Great post, Marcy.

  14. wilfred says:

    Bombing Paul with the new word of power ‘racist’ handily ignores the fact that the only people of color being oppressed at will these days are Arabs/Muslims and those locked up on federal drug charges:

    In 1986 the federal prison population was 36,000. Today it’s 216,000. And in the 25 years since, more than half of federal prisoners are brought in on drug charges. The prison population is disproportionately black and Hispanic. The federal government does about 25,000 cases a year and only one out of four of those defendants is white. Also, it’s widely believed that crack cases are mostly minorities, while the powder cocaine cases are mostly white, but that’s a myth. It’s true that only one in 10 crack cases are white, but the overwhelming majority of powder cocaine defendants are still black or Hispanic.

    But Paul is a racist.

  15. Bob Schacht says:

    OT

    Michigan wins the Sugar Bowl, but that was about the ugliest win I’ve ever seen. Their offense did very little. Their red zone defense was very good, but the game was lost by the VirTech special teams.

    Bob in AZ

  16. Brenda Koehler says:

    I don’t agree that Obama’s a less bad presidential candidate than Paul. Obama hasn’t done anything about climate change. He never will. Everything positive about him is an illusion that progressives keep wanting to mistake for reality.

  17. shekissesfrogs says:

    Have any of you heard of this?

    H.R. 3166: Enemy Expatriation Act

    Mr. DENT (for himself and Mr. ALTMIRE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
    Oct 12, 2011

    To add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality.

    Loss of Nationality for native born or naturalized citizen
    In General- Section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481) is amended–

    For engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.’; and
    For purposes of this section, the term ‘hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war.’.

  18. GKJames says:

    @MadDog

    You may be right. My question probably should have been: What causes people to conclude that “Ron Paul is nuts?” His opposition to the American habit of perpetual war and interference in other countries doesn’t strike me as meeting the burden of proof.

  19. Bay State Librul says:

    @bmaz:

    Agree with your assessment of Paul. He is both a “foil” and a “fool”
    He makes a great Shakespearean character — a historical tragedy…. Come, let us return to the Gold Standard.

  20. noble_serf says:

    He’s flat-out dangerous.

    He’s a federalist. Just because he’s correct on a few issues for the wrong reasons, does not mean he’s worthy of governing, or a vote, or a spoiler vote as it were.

    Sadly, no one on the “left” who can grab a national spotlight and hold it, or seriously influence policy, is raising the issues of imperialism and protecting civil liberties. So that’s why RP sometimes seems like he’s making a little bit of sense. He isn’t.

  21. Tom Allen says:

    Why are Drum and Gerson so upset that the other candidates might be exposed as authoritarians and imperialists in turn?

    Because they’re Washington insiders, no matter where they live. They’re authoritarians and imperialists, both of whom supported the Iraq War. (Simple answers to simple questions.)

  22. ron says:

    “I’m perfectly comfortable having Paul exposed–as he has been–as a racist over the course of this race.”

    Calling Paul a racist, shameful and disgusting on your part.

  23. 4jkb4ia says:

    Thanks, EW. I was trying to make the same point and foundered on the ground of “the convention”, and I’m not going to vote for Ron Paul under any circumstances either–in the MO caucus you have to say you are a Republican, and, in a beautiful show of sensitivity, they are going to hold it at 10 am on a Saturday. (Seriously, this is a great way to honor everyone in my community who faithfully goes in on primary day and asks for their Republican ballot /s) The only problem with this is that the other Republican candidates can see that Paul is not competing for the same voters as they are. So much of his support is independents and Republicans for a day and people who will vote for no one but him. And he has enough flaws that if the other Republican candidates attack those, they can scare away the people who are just curious about him. Scaremongering about Iran seemed to be working a little bit. Another problem is that Paul’s anti-banksterism can only go so far with any of them because a) they are Mitt or b) they are cutting off a source of money that might otherwise think hard about them.
    I think that Paul is the genuine Tea Party candidate in the race. TNC’s post talking about Farrakhan was genius. Paul is a vent for the kind of anger that I understand Taibbi is talking about, although I suppose he has a reason for writing Paul off. In that sense Paul should scare the establishment, both Democrats and Republicans, and force them to defend the views they hold. That is all he can do because at least Obama over four years in office has to have convinced himself that the Obama who has taught the Constitution and will defend the Constitution is still there. I would pay money to see a Paul-Gingrich debate similar to the Gingrich-Huntsman one, and Paul might make Gingrich look like a fool.

  24. MadDog says:

    @GKJames: I agree with you there entirely!

    I suppose that I see him as a nutjob with a few sane ideas rather than a sane person with a few crazy ideas.

  25. DonS says:

    @bmaz: @ 7:46

    Useful ruminations that probably a lot of us could endorse. I’m still not sure about what to do.

    Here’s an interesting article from antiwar.com bringing in the really evil scnarios involving Israel, attacks on Iran and the DC/AIPAC-genuflecting orthodoxy, and how it could play out in the general, parat of which is

    “Netanyahu, who makes no secret of his dislike and distrust of Obama, may hope to put Obama under maximum pressure to support Israel militarily in a war with Iran by striking during a campaign in which the Republican candidate would be accusing him of being soft on the Iranian nuclear threat.

    “If the Republican candidate is in a strong position to win the election, on the other hand, Netanyahu would want to wait for a new administration aligned with his belligerent posture toward Iran. ”

    Since Obama is a punching bag for Netanyahu as well as AIPAC, and responds with ultimate weakness, the whole thing makes me shiver.

    http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2012/01/03/obama-seeks-to-distance-us-from-israeli-attack/

  26. Dan says:

    Drum and Gerson expose themselves as tools of the Conservative Establishment in these articles, tearing down the latest not-Mitt surge.

    Ron Paul is certainly an enigma; to the Right of the GOP field on some issues and to the Left of Obama on others.

    I am surprised no one hear mentioned a great article by Glenn Greenwald contrasting Paul and Obama with respect to Progressive support. If Paul’s views actually caused Obama to turn to the Left, it would be a great thing.
    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/31/progressives_and_the_ron_paul_fallacies/singleton/

  27. par4 says:

    Kevin Drum thinks he is a “Lefty”? WTF? Once again a “Liberal” is confused about the political spectrum.

  28. orionATL says:

    a question for various participants here:

    when you write that paul is a “nut” or “a crackpot”,

    do you mean he is mentally unbalanced ?

    or do you mean he has very unusual political views?

  29. orionATL says:

    glenn greenwald has a column on ron paul’s candidacy:

    “Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies”.

  30. Greg Brown says:

    Ron Paul is quite alright in Congress where he is one voice and vote on issues. He would not be alright as President of the United States in which office he could do immense damage by using the power of that office to advance all of his desires/whims/fact-free initiatives.

    It’s not that some of his views, e.g. global warming is a hoax or return to the gold standard, are unusual, it’s that they are fact-free and downright dangerous.

  31. sd says:

    Kevin Drum is incredibly useful to read. His view is 100% Washington’s ‘conventional wisdom’ and as such, an inside peek at how the Very Serious People™ feel about Paul.

  32. Bob Schacht says:

    @Dan:

    Ron Paul is certainly an enigma; to the Right of the GOP field on some issues and to the Left of Obama on others.

    The Ron Paul phenomenon shows that politics forms a circle, not a straight line with extremes at the ends of the line. Thus, Paul is so far to the Right that he’s Left. The issue that puts Paul on the back side of the circle rather than on the Centrist side of the front is that the Centrist paradigm favors Big Government, whereas the Paul contingent on the back side of the circle really does favor reducing the size of government. (The Centrist front proclaims a desire for smaller government, but their actions indicate otherwise.)

    Bob in AZ

  33. Bert Rand says:

    I absolutely love this site (1st time post), but like Naked Capitalism, it seems everybody wants more of the same. R’s and D’s are identical when it comes to civil liberties, finances, and over 7,000 dead Americans in Iraq and Astan. I only hear one person saying anything different…and *he’s* nuts? It’s disheartening.

    BR

  34. emptywheel says:

    @Bert Rand: My point was that mainstream policies are nuts, and Paul, in some areas, exposes them as such.

    Not sure what the best option is for President. But Paul won’t win, so the question is how best to deploy votes to undermine the duopoly?

  35. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: While I and others have been chewing Ron Paul to pieces here, your central point is still valid. If RP espouses some crazy ideas, he is far from alone. Both sides of the aisle have embraced stuff that makes no sense and undermines the viability of our nation and its founding principles.

  36. P J Evans says:

    I don’t see Paul as non-interventionist, I see him as isolationist – he’s really a 19th-century politician in many ways. That’s what makes him dangerous. His ideas are more out of touch with reality than they look like.

  37. Bob Tweed says:

    @Beth in VA:

    Raed it. Terrible analogy and comparison. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing, and ignores the issues. These issues scare progressives, because Obama won’t deal with them, and that makes progressives conjure scary strawmen to make Paul look like a crackpot. That’s the Bizarro world we live in, where the rule of law and the Constitution exists only for crackpots.

  38. Bob Tweed says:

    @P J Evans:

    An isolationist wants to prevent you, by law, from travelling or doing trade with, say, Cuba. Sure, Ron Paul doesn’t want to BOMB nations that disagree with us, he wants to open them up with trade. Ipso-facto, to the peabrain mentality, that makes him an “isolationist.”

  39. Blaine says:

    I really think this debate is intriguing. I think it ultimately misses three things that almost render this whole debate futile:

    1. Voters are ignorant of even the most minor issues; and this is no different in respects to issues taken by someone like Paul. How many voters know *anything* about covert wars currently going on in the horn of Africa? A very, very small handful of politically active people. Will Paul espousing his views on an issue like this change that dynamic? Absolutely not. The amount of people who actually pay attention to details of candidate ideology like that are minuscule (hence the fact that this debate seems entirely confined to politically active bloggers and journalists).

    2. Even those who are aware of these issues and the candidate stances on them; what matters more is the *perception* of their (candidate) stance on the issue with said voters. A well known phenomenon that’s been studied in political science is the fact that voters essentially align the candidates views with their own, even if the candidate doesn’t necessarily their views 100%. We see it all the time. So while Paul has some sensible stances on some important issues, even those who might be generally educated on those issues will vote based on perception; which ultimately isn’t always closely matched with reality.

    3. Mass media. What the media reports is more important than any candidate messaging (and I’m not just talking about news media; I’m talking about all media).

    This all isn’t to say that I think having Paul in the race is completely worthless, but I think the debate you and Kevin and Greenwald, etc. are having starts out with a few assumptions that have little evidence to back them up (namely that candidate stances and ideology have any real impact on the American electorate in the short or long run) and ignores the giant elephant in the room that is likely to make Paul’s stances irrelevant if we are to assume that his stances matter all that much in the first place with most voters.

  40. Michael Price says:

    @Bruce Miller: You’re lying. RP NEVER opposed making government segregation illegal, and in fact openly supported the parts of the civil rights law that did so. So much for the “hardcore sothernn segregationist” lie.

    As for being a “Bircher conspiracist” what this really means is that he thinks the UN was not put on the earth to benefit mankind but to benefit the elites. Considering it was put on the earth by the elites and has at best been a bad conduit for foreign aid and and worst been an enabler of aggressive war that’s not a disqualification.

    As for his foreign policy being “xenophobic” who has he suggested hating or fearing? Nobody. In fact he has opposed militarism his entire career.

    I dare you to find him criticising the Geneva Convention, or indeed suggesting greater nuclear weapons arsenals than the “limitation” treaties allow. You’d have about as much luck as you would finding him supporting torture, which your Saint Obama has continued to allow.

  41. Michael Price says:

    @Greg Brown: Returning to a gold standard is ” fact-free and downright dangerous.”? Because the current system is so well supported by evidence and hasn’t caused any problems at all? The Fed caused the current US depression by causing a housing bubble. This is indisputable. Ron Paul’s policy would prevent this, again, this is indisputable. Now you can dispute whether this means that RP’s policies are wise, but they are certainly not “fact-free”, there are two facts right there, to get you started. There are many more if you really are concerned with truth.

  42. Michael Price says:

    @P J Evans: And what is the difference between a “non-interventionist” and an “isolationist”? Quite simply an isolationist is what you call someone who doesn’t want to bomb people if you don’t want to agree with him or face his arguments. What exactly is RP out of touch with reality on? The economy? Nope, he called the depression way before any other politician. Foriegn policy? Nope, again he’s been consistently accurate in his predictions, including predicting attacks on American by middle eastern people in retaliation for your government’s aggression. How about the bank bailouts? Nope he was right on those too, they didn’t stop unemployment going higher.

    Quite frankly the number of times a progressive calls RP a crackpot is inversely proportional to the number of times they can actually argue against his ideas.

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