ImPeden Reality

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If anyone doesn’t know, Ron Paul crushed the challenger for his Congressional seat, neocon Chris Peden, with a 70% landslide victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Ron faces no Democratic opponent in the November general election, so he has effectively been returned to Congress.

Chris Peden

Tom Woods exposed Peden, who’s a 43-year-old CPA and Friendswod, Texas city councilman.

As Tom documented, Peden told The Galveston Daily News in January 2007, “I have an immense amount of respect for Ron Paul. Politics has a way of forcing people to go against their core principles for political gain. That has never been the case for Ron Paul.”

Then, in May, Peden announced that he was challenging for Ron’s Congressional seat.

It’s possible to admire a person for sticking to their principles even when you disagree with those principles. So there’s nothing inherently wrong with Peden running against Ron over honest disagreements, as long as he presents Ron’s positions accurately.

But, as Tom also documented, that’s not how Peden ran his campaign; instead, he deliberately distorted Ron’s views using typical, shallow neocon rhetoric, like saying Ron "blames America" for 9/11 and that Ron is a "liberal." No master of subtlety, Peden also hilariously used a professional, smiling portrait of himself when comparing his positions to Ron’s on his campaign site; the link on the homepage showed Ron making an out-of-context silly face, while the linked page listing Ron’s (distorted) positions showed Ron with an out-of-context sneer.

The way Peden suddenly decided to run against Ron only after Ron’s presidential campaign looked like it might succeed — meaning that Ron’s focus wasn’t as much on defending his House seat as it would otherwise be, and that he would abandon the seat if he managed to win the nomination; and the way Peden flip-flopped from praising Ron to viciously attacking him — indicates that Peden is a typical opportunistic politician who will say whatever he has to say, and betray whomever he has to betray, to attain power.

And his verbatim spouting of empty neocon talking points indicates that he was probably drafted into the race by the GOP Establishment to try to get rid of Ron.

Even his Paulian rhetoric of belief in "free markets, smaller government, and individual responsibility" was self-evidently false, just based on the fact that he was trying to depose the man who has possibly the best record on those issues of any politician in American history.

The Old Media

As usual, the media attempted to carry out their (dying) role as opinion makers by informing the public that Peden was not only the better choice, but was a serious threat to Ron. This method, which is often used by the media, is known in marketing as perception precedes reality; to spot it, look for statements that are misleading but technically not lies, or for impressive-sounding statements that are vague and unprovable.

Here’s a random sampling of some Establishment media stories that attempted to give readers the mental image of Ron working at his desk with Chris Peden standing behind him, measuring for drapes.

  • Writing in November in The Hill, a prominent Congressional newspaper, Texas-based GOP pollster David Hill wrote, "Recent polling by another Texas Republican pollster confirms that Paul’s electorate doesn’t appreciate the increasingly leftish libertarian bent of Paul’s voting record. In the eyes of voters, Paul is now also wrong to oppose the Patriot Act, off base on energy policy that affects Texas enormously, and to be faulted for knee-jerk opposition to the fight against terror in the Middle East.

    "The difference this time is that Paul’s critics have a bona fide challenger lined up: Chris Peden, a mainline social conservative who has distinguished himself opposing the tax hijinks of local elected officials. If Paul files to run for both Congress and the presidency by the Jan. 2 deadline, he’ll likely lose to Peden on March 4. That’ll be OK, though. Dr. Paul can just move to New Hampshire where the libertarian Free State Project might try and elect him their first governor, leveraging the boost in name ID and image that his presidential bid will have wrought. Good riddance."

Mistaken predictions can be forgiven; I wrote in December that Ron was likely to be the next president, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

But my prediction was an honest assessment of how I saw the situation at the time, mainly based on the fact that Ron was raising as much money online as the Establishment front-runners were raising through various methods, despite a media blackout of his campaign, and that there were logical reasons to think that the polls weren’t accurately measuring Ron’s support due to their antiquated polling methods.

In contrast, David Hill’s prediction was a distortion of reality based solely on the convoluted logic — which itself was based solely on undocumented, anecdotal evidence — that many people in Ron’s district — where Ron has been reelected six consecutive times — suddenly don’t like Ron’s positions — positions which hadn’t changed. His prediction also ignored the fact that Peden finished the third quarter of 2007 with $400 on-hand; and that, barring a Ted Stevens-like scandal, the reelection rate for Congresspersons and Senators is more than 90%.

  • Roll Call, another prominent newspaper covering Capitol Hill, ran a one-sided news article in December titled "Ron Paul in Peril?"; it offered no evidence that Peden had a chance to unseat Paul.

  • An ABC News story the day of the primary, similarly titled "Paul in Peril," described Ron as "fighting for his day job" and "fighting for his political life," but also offered no evidence that Peden had the slightest chance to win.

  • Neocon news magazine The Weekly Standard ran an article asserting that Peden was a "serious threat," that Ron’s "political career might suffer a fatal blow," and "Unless the Ronulans are willing to move to Texas en masse, he’s probably in serious trouble."

  • An article last month in The American Spectator contended that "Paul may genuinely be in trouble," that he "isn’t acting like an incumbent who is taking his congressional primary for granted," that "Paul has faced long odds before," implying that he faced long odds in this race too, and "It is nevertheless jarring to see Paul go so quickly from a presidential candidate whose campaign was giving likely GOP nominee John McCain the willies to a congressional incumbent looking over his shoulder at a little-known local pol. Is a revolutionary without honor in his own House district?"

The common thread through all of these articles was the undocumented "evidence" that Ron was in danger of losing due to his seat due to his presidential campaign publicizing his views — which haven’t changed, and which he has always been up-front about — to his constituents for the first time; and that, to a lesser extent, he had neglected his district by spending too much time running for president.

  • Predictably, The Victoria Advocate and The Galveston Daily News — two newspapers in the district — endorsed Peden.

From the perspective of voters, I’ve never been able to understand the point of political endorsements, because the only way an endorsement could be effective is to tip the scale in favor of two virtually interchangeable candidates, either of whom any one voter would’ve supported anyway; an endorsement can’t convince anyone who’s not a mindless sheep to vote for someone just based on the endorsement.

For example, I have confidence in Ron Paul’s knowledge and judgment. If he and I were involved in the LP, and I couldn’t decide at the convention between two presidential candidates who each seemed about as good as the other, Ron’s endorsement of one over the other might sway me to his choice if the reasoning behind it was convincing to me. But if Ron dropped out of the GOP race and endorsed McCain, it wouldn’t make me support McCain; it would make me wonder if Ron had suffered a stroke.

So hardly any Paul supporters would even consider Peden, and vice-versa.

  • But the pièce de résistance was a recent (New Media, but neocon) Pajamas Media story by Roger L. Simon, claiming that (phantom) "internal polling" by both campaigns showed Peden with a "double-digit" lead over Ron. This sort of thing is done frequently in politics, and it’s another perception precedes reality scam.

  • Even in reporting Ron’s win, Roll Call continued to claim that he had been "endangered" and "vulnerable."

The media’s influence is dying

The media constantly try to distort reality. Sometimes they succeed; sometimes they fail. But, thanks to the Internet, the trend is more and more toward failure.

Their blackout of Ron’s presidential campaign was effective at removing any chance he had to be president. But Ron accomplished a lot in the past year, all due to the Internet, and it all would’ve been impossible just 16 years ago.

And the technology will continue to advance (for example, it’s mind-boggling to think that video sites like YouTube didn’t exist in 2004), young people who never knew the world without it will continue to be born and grow up, and old people who don’t use it will continue to pass away

So the day is likely coming when such a media blackout won’t succeed.

Fortunately, even now it’s much more difficult for the media to smear someone who’s already well-known and well-liked than it is for them to ruin an unknown’s campaign by ignoring him, so those who tried to cost Ron his Congressional seat failed.

So be grateful: although Congressman Paul isn’t as good as President Paul, it’s a heck of a lot better than Congressman Peden.

Johnny Kramer [send him mail] holds a BA in journalism from Wichita State University and is available for hire as a writer and copyeditor. See his website.

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