Bring It On!

Let’s Go One-On-One

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski


I’m not shy about expressing my opinion (have you noticed?) or making predictions. My big mouth got me into a few scrapes as a kid in South Buffalo (but being 6-2 helped in that department).

Anyway, most of my predictions or observations about politics for whatever reason turn out to be correct. Non-beginner’s luck I guess.

One of those that so far has not proven true is my dismissal of Huckabee as a serious player. I am still blind when it comes to the Huckabee phenomenon. I still don’t see how anyone could take this man seriously. Stand-up comic yes; president, no.

I also thought that it would help Ron Paul to split the neocon, warmonger, big-government conservative vote into many different pieces. Although it’s still very early, it didn’t work out that way in the first two states where 90 percent voted to continue the welfare-warfare state and our decadent, Chinese-funded global military empire.

One of my favorite quotes is Emerson’s “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” He meant that you should choose truth over ego when new facts challenge your beliefs.

I’m now getting the feeling that the Revolution would be better off going one-on-one with whomever is chosen by the party of big-government conservatism.

Right now, the smart money is on McCain. Why McCain? We were hashing that out Friday after a Ron Paul event in Buffalo. My theory: all the opponents of Ron Paul are deeply flawed candidates either for political or personal reasons. Whoever is the focus of attention at any moment disappoints. The "last man standing” notion has been floated and I think it’s true. It’s McCain’s turn to be the "last" man standing. That’s because when the spotlight was shown on Thompson, he bombed. The same happened with Romney, Giuliani and Huckabee. After rejecting all those, people took a second look at McCain forgetting that long ago, when the spotlight was on him, they didn’t like him either. So call it the “Brit Hume memory loss/last man standing theory.”

So, if McCain wins in Michigan, the occasionally correct pundits tell us, there will be pressure to quickly coronate him as the nominee. The media and party establishments will coalesce to declare the game over. Huckabee may be bought off with VP or a sitcom.

Since Ron Paul can’t be bought, he would remain in the race with plenty of cash and a huge army of volunteers and a campaign that learned important lessons in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Why is this one-on-one scenario a good thing?

First, there’s too much "noise" now for people to focus on Ron Paul’s message. Too many distractions for busy people to really concentrate.

Second, those who vaguely oppose Ron Paul because the media has trashed him or smeared him or because they were assured he couldn’t win, have not thus far had to make a real choice other than Ron Paul. It’s been Ron Paul, who they know little about anyway against some abstract notion of "the perfect candidate." Now, they will have to make a real, concrete, warts and all choice. If voting against Ron Paul means voting for John McCain, then all those who dislike John McCain will have to think long and hard about that choice. I applied the same logic to my pre-Ron Paul prediction that Hillary would be the next president. If the choice is, should Hillary be president, she loses. But up against another flawed human being, actually McCain in my scenario, she wins.

Third, as we saw in the debate the other night, when Ron Paul has time to speak, he demolishes his opponents. Remember the second last debate when he discussed health care and monetary policy and when he stopped, there was an embarrassed silence when his opponents were rendered speechless, then Fred said something really stupid? McCain showed the other night that he flunked economics 101. With sufficient time, the public would come to see who is the professor and who is the C-student on economics, civil liberties and foreign policy. Don’t be surprised if McCain explodes out of sheer frustration! Ron Paul, on the other hand, is unflappable. To use a favored metaphor, it would be "three yards and a cloud of dust," as Ron Paul runs the ball up the middle and McCain’s modest intellectual defenses gradually weaken and then collapse late in the third quarter.

Fourth, Ron Paul conveniently disappeared from the coverage about three days before New Hampshire and Iowa, just when most people started focusing on the election. It would be much more difficult to pull that stunt with only two candidates in the race and Ron Paul running a highly visible advertising campaign.

Fifth, the strongest practical argument for Ron Paul is that he can beat Hillary and the other Republicans cannot. That’s a much easier argument to make if it’s one-on-one. McCain is the quintessential candidate who cannot beat Hillary. He was the example I used when I first floated that theory a year ago.

Finally, the establishment has taken the gloves off against Ron Paul. Everything is on the table now. John McCain is the first one to admit that he’s a deeply flawed man. In a one-on-one race with this much at stake, he provides a large target if, as we are now being told, sainthood is the new standard for presidential candidates. So be it.

So, I now say, as to the prospects for going one-on-one with John McCain: bring it on!

January 14, 2008

James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.