Ron Paul Revolution Halftime Report
by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski
In terms of his pursuit of the Republican nomination, it’s already halftime for the Ron Paul Revolution. He announced his campaign in January and by February the nomination will likely be decided. It’s true that most of the country is not paying any attention but that misses the point, as do polls showing Ron Paul with just a few points in the national polls. By the time most of the country starts paying attention, the contest for the nomination will be over.
When I learned that Ron Paul was running, I carefully analyzed the race and concluded "the Ron Paul campaign could be a political earthquake," explained why he can win, and called him Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare. People unaware of my long-time status as a political junkie and amateur (unpaid) analyst accused me of hubris or wishful thinking. No, I was just trying to predict the course of events as I did with a primitive blog on the 2004 campaign.
Leaving the nomination aside for a moment, isn’t it crazy to think that Ron can win in November? My father always told me, "every election is a choice." You can’t vote "yes" or "no." It’s always some candidate against another candidate. Long before Ron Paul entered the race, I was firmly convinced that Hillary would be the Democratic nominee. I even coined a term for those who can’t accept that possibility: Hillary denial. Hillary has done very well in the debates while Obama has been quite average if you ask me. My father, a college debate champion, saw Hillary speak many years ago and was very impressed by her communication skills. In my view, the only candidate who can seriously challenge Hillary is Bill Richardson and he just won’t be able to do it. He’ll settle for VP. Obama has lost his initial luster in part because Ron Paul has suddenly become the favored candidate of those who want real change, something really new. In Texas parlance, Obama is "all hat, no cattle." Pencil in Hillary for November.
As I said before, anyone who runs against Hillary starts with 45 percent of the vote just on general principles. Ron Paul can pick up those last five points by outflanking Hillary "from the left" on the Iraq War, drug war, monetary populism and opposition to the corporate state and the military industrial complex. His experience practicing medicine both before and after Medicare/Medicaid will allow him to checkmate Hillary on her key domestic issue. We already know he’ll hammer her on her support for the war. So, Ron will best Hillary on the key foreign policy issue and a key domestic policy issue. Perhaps Hillary will score points on extraterrestrial policy issues. Ron is indeed Hillary’s worst nightmare.
Now, let’s back up and talk about the Republican nomination. My initial concern was whether Ron would be included in the debates. I was confident that a series of debates would reveal him to be "a man of substance versus a number of shallow sloganeers." That has in fact occurred, particularly in the second debate which gave Ron more time and better questions to work with. There is no way at this point that Ron can be excluded from future debates. So, expect him to continue to pummel his opponents with his real world experience and encyclopedic command of issues, economics, and history. One thinks of Patton’s famous speech: "My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against. My God, I do."
Another factor in my initial analysis was the deeply flawed nature of Ron’s major opponents: McCain, Romney and Giuliani. Since Fred Thompson is being quickly rushed into the race, even mainstream Republicans now recognize that none of the Big Three will lead them to the Promised Land. Out of the Big Three, McCain at least has an ounce or two of integrity. The other two are political chameleons who will say virtually anything to gain power, and have! Fred Thompson is a more formidable candidate to be sure, but he is not without problems himself. Expect the pre-candidate glow to fade quickly as the honeymoon ends and the marriage begins. He is pro-war, has few specific ideas about anything and he lobbied for Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As Ricky Ricardo would say, Fred has some splaining to do. Fred’s big problem is that at a time of great dissatisfaction with the status quo, he has been a player in the Republican establishment since the early 1970’s, just what the doctor did not order.
Douglas Turner brilliantly skewered Fred Thompson on Monday:
Thompson, a 6-foot-5-inch television character actor who manages u2018gravitas’ but offers little else, gave his views on Iraq in a staged interview shopped around the Internet by the conservative Hoover Institution. Former Sen. Thompson of Tennessee, trying to look like Ronald Reagan but sounding like Lyndon Johnson, pledged himself to endless war. We have to worry about American prestige "in that part of the world," and how it would be damaged by a pullout, Thompson said, echoing Johnson’s worries about dominoes in Southeast Asia. Thompson airily claimed that two friends have sons in Iraq and that they are sending home e-mails filled with optimism about conditions there. If they’re happy, "I’ve got optimism and hope," he said last week. Acts of terrorism there have risen to 1,000 a week. "We must take every opportunity and exhaust every reasonable hope that we have to not lose there," said Thompson, an undeclared candidate nudging Giuliani as a GOP favorite in some polls. . . . Fred Thompson had a brief and undistinguished record in the Senate but bears himself as one burdened with deep thoughts.
Fred Thompson actually helps Ron Paul. Ron is already the only antiwar Republican. Fred Thompson further splits the pro-war vote to Ron’s obvious benefit. Now, let’s factor in the unintended consequences of the power elite’s efforts to thwart populist candidates. For a long time, many Republican delegates have been selected in winner-take-all fashion, either statewide or in each congressional district. Also, this year, the power elite has frontloaded the primaries to favor of establishment candidates such as Rudy. Alas, they have outsmarted themselves this year, a mistake that may prove fatal to them. With the first series of primaries only months away, there simply isn’t time for weaker candidates to lose big, run out of money and quit. Most second-tier vanity candidates will stay in the race. With 11 candidates splitting the vote, Ron Paul could win early primaries and loads of delegates with just twenty percent of the vote. Fred Thompson’s imminent announcement helps Ron Paul, thank him very much. The stars are aligning perfectly for the Ron Paul Revolution.
Ultimately, Ron Paul will begin to gain support even from those Republicans who disagree with his foreign policy views when the grim truth sinks in. As the only antiwar Republican, he is the only Republican who can beat Hillary in November.
There is a critical subplot in the Ron Paul Revolution. I said early on that Ron can win because he will be the candidate of the internet. Well, the "internet primary" is already over. This is quickly becoming a battle between the new media — the internet and unconventional TV shows such as Bill Maher, the Daily Show and Colbert Report — and the old media. After being forced to cover Ron during the debates, the old mainstream media, except for a story last week in the Washington Post, is again pretending he doesn’t exist. The truly fascinating thing about this Revolution is that it is simultaneously a velvet revolution against the political establishment and against its partner in crime, the mainstream media. This should be no surprise. The relation between big government and big media, the media-government complex, has been way too cozy for way too long. Tim Russert, who ignores Ron Paul, made his bones as a soldier for the Democratic machine in Buffalo, then parlayed his jobs with Mario Cuomo and Daniel Moynihan into a gig at NBC. Chris Matthews, who dissed Ron Paul at the first debate and largely ignores him on his (otherwise pretty good) show, used to work for Tip O’Neil. And it is well known that the door swings the other way as Tony Snow and many other examples show. Big government; big media; what’s the difference in corporate state America? As the Ron Paul campaign shows, not much.
Skeptics point to national "scientific" polls that show Ron with 1—3% support. These are fairly meaningless at this point. What matters is not national polls, but polls in the first states to be contested, Iowa and New Hampshire. Second, there is reason to believe that much of Ron’s support is not being counted. Pollsters tend not to question people who haven’t voted recently or who don’t have a landline. For Ron to be at three percent in New Hampshire at this point is really quite good in light of the newness of his campaign and his slight expenditure of resources thus far. I see him creeping up slowly to ten or fifteen before the end of the year, in very good shape for the stretch run. History shows that one or two wins or strong showings can instantly boost polling numbers across the country. Ron must do well in the first three or four states, but if he does, things will take care of themselves poll-wise.
I said that the Ron Paul campaign could be a political earthquake. The clues are all there: young people and people previously not politically active are forming the core of his support; he is drawing support from the left and the right; Democrats for Paul groups are starting up; crowds are building and lies and smears are bouncing harmlessly off Ron Paul like so many bullets off Superman’s chest. In his recent media appearances, Ron is in what great athletes call "the zone."
What makes an earthquake is pent-up energy suddenly unleashed with tremendous force. A lot of problems that can only be addressed in a Jeffersonian framework of peace and freedom have been festering for too long in Hamiltonian America. A lot of people have been waiting a long time for a Jeffersonian to run for president and they’re going to make the most of it.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."
Prediction: the second half of the Ron Paul Revolution will be even more exciting than the first half. The Republican establishment and the old media will find it revolting.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled velvet revolution.
I will have a more to say about the Ron Paul Revolution Thursday, June 21st, at 12 noon at the Grover Cleveland Statue in front of City Hall in Buffalo, New York. The event will be filmed for You Tube to promote my new radio show. If you’re within driving distance of Buffalo that day and you don’t show up, you’ll have some splaining to do.
June 19, 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.