Ron Paul’s growing popularity is extremely annoying to those on the left. And sometimes their annoyance gets out-of-control, as evidenced by the reaction from Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of The State, Columbia, South Carolina. What set Warthen off was this comment about Ron Paul and libertarianism in the Washington Post: "More than at any other time over the past two decades, Americans are hungering for the politics and freewheeling fun of libertarianism."
It was primarily the reference to "freewheeling fun of libertarianism" that prompted this outburst from Warthen: "I look at it (libertarianism) and see a gray, dull, monotonous, seething, dispiriting resentment. Gripe, bitch, moan, especially about taxes — that’s libertarianism to me. If I were looking to be an ideologically rigid, antisocial grouch who constantly told the rest of the world to go (expletive) itself, I’d be a libertarian."
Compare Warthen’s tirade against Ron Paul and libertarianism with his glowing tribute to Barack Obama, a Democrat of the liberal persuasion. Warthen is discussing Obama’s effect on his followers, especially young people. "But there’s something about Obama that makes the youthfulness of his supporters seem more apt, something that reminds me of my own youth. He reaches across time, across cynicism, across the sordidness of Politics as Practiced, offering to pull them in to the place where they can make a difference."
Before the advent of the Internet, the public had nowhere to go to find rebuttals to such subjective statements. Newspaper journalists had more power then. Even now, Warthen, as editorial page editor, can decide which columnists are allowed to air their opinions in his paper. And letters to the editor containing opinions he does not approve of will never be printed. As print media is gradually replaced with electronic media, editorial page editors will lose some of their disproportionate clout.
If Brad Warthen’s praise of Obama sounds a little naïve, remember that Warthen, like many of today’s journalists, was born somewhere the mid-1950’s to the late-1960’s. During the heyday of ABC, CBS and NBC, these journalists were kids in PJs eating cereal in front of the TV. This is how they learned about America and where they formulated their narrow views about the first half of the 20th century. Network television reporting informed them what was right and what was wrong and defined what the government’s role in appeasing the demands of fringe groups and "improving society" should be. Those seminal years spawned their political idée fixe; their youthful political obsessions that remain unchanged to this day.
Although Warthen and his ilk have not changed over the years, other than exchange their love beads for power suits, America has changed radically. It has new problems now that require new solutions. And I don’t think it is an exaggeration to state that time may be running out. So a good many people are placing their faith in Ron Paul, believing he may have the answers.
Gail Jarvis [send him mail] is a free-lance writer.