Ron Paul vs. Hillary Clinton

The Great Unknown

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski


I got accused of "hubris" for writing that Ron Paul is Hillary’s worst nightmare. I’m not sure that my confidence in the candidacy of another can be considered hubris but I won’t quibble over that.

[Full disclosure. I only met Ron Paul once and am not involved in his campaign in any way. I only know what I read on the web.]

Here’s my point. I warned those leaning to Bush over Kerry in 2004 that a Bush win could put Hillary in the White House for two terms. I’m sure many laughed at that line also. Now, Hillary has to be considered the clear favorite to win the Presidency. She leads the Democratic candidates in the polls and number two is Barack Obama whose entire rsum says: "very good public speaker." That’s a very good place to be.

(By the way, I’m sure many also laughed when I predicted on December 3, 2003, that John Kerry would be the Democratic nominee.)

Many people cannot believe that Hillary has a chance because everyone they know dislikes her. But that’s because birds of a feather flock together. Your friends are not a scientific survey.

Now look over at the Republican side and start laughing. Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich? Call Dr. Laura; you need her badly. McCain’s in there too. Ron Paul versus three establishment centrists who supported the war sounds like a good scenario in the Republican primaries.

Pre-Ron Paul, John McCain was the presumptive nominee in my view. For many reasons I believed Hillary would beat him. Reason number one is his ferocious support of the failed war in Iraq. If it’s Hillary versus McCain, Hillary has the good fortune of being the antiwar choice even though she supported the war.

All that being the case, why in the world would she want to upset the applecart and face an unknown commodity like Ron Paul? She has nothing to gain and everything to lose. The expression "beware of the amateur" comes to mind. Not that Ron Paul is an amateur but the principle applies just the same. Hillary knows exactly what McCain will do and say, but she has no playbook on Ron Paul. Nobody does. It’s an entirely unpredictable race. She’d take McCain any day over the Great Unknown.

Now, consider the fact that on the key issue of the campaign, the Iraq War, Ron Paul beats Hillary. He voted against the war and she for it. On three other key issues, the economy, immigration and health care, Ron Paul’s views should fare quite well against Hillary’s.

So, when I say people should take Ron Paul seriously, I’m not just whistling Dixie. Which brings to mind another reason to take him seriously: Southerners tend to win the White House.

A Ron Paul candidacy in the Republican primaries is a historic opportunity. The last Jeffersonian president was Buffalo’s own Grover Cleveland who left office in 1897. This campaign is an opportunity to take care of a lot of "old business" that has accumulated since that time.

History shows that major political change happens like an earthquake. Energy builds up slowly over time, hemmed in by the enormous power of the status quo. Then, just one more calorie of energy can cause an enormous earthquake. And just like real earthquakes, political earthquakes are impossible to predict in advance. They only seemed inevitable after the fact.

All I’m saying is that the Ron Paul campaign could be a political earthquake. We won’t and can’t know until after the fact.

So far, the establishment press has largely ignored or dismissed his candidacy. That’s good! That means that if he becomes a serious candidate, it will be a victory for the blogosphere against the establishment press. In the meantime, enjoy the ride. How often do you have a chance to strike the same blow against the political establishment and its partner in crime, the establishment press?

January 17, 2007

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.