Ron Paul has amazed me in the Presidential debates. In just about every case, he’s made a better reply than I did while yelling at the television screen during the debates — better even than I could ever have thought of with unlimited time to craft a reply.
But I’ve never let such a fact discourage me from telling my betters what to say. So here’s what I believe Ron Paul should say to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" this weekend, in reply to the inevitable questions.
First, on the money bomb:
Russert: "Six Million dollars in one day. That’s an astounding sum of money."
Paul: "No, it’s not. We have 80,000 people in MeetUps. That’s only $75 a person. You and the rest of the mainstream media already missed the really amazing story. The amazing story is the growth of this revolution despite a virtual media blackout by the national media. The amazing part of the story of last Sunday is that we hold fundraisers for publicity, not because we need the money. The MeetUps are carrying on this revolution, not the official campaign. They’re the ones printing the literature and bumper stickers, holding signs on highway overpasses and raising blimps. They are Granny Warriors on bus tours. They are conducting letter-writing campaigns and manning phone banks. And none of this costs the presidential campaign a cent. And you and the rest of the media have missed the story completely. I’m just riding the crest of this revolution; six million dollars is nothing. It seems the revolution won’t be televised, except on YouTube.
… and on the supposed inevitability of Ron’s defeat:
Russert: "You know you can’t win."
Paul: "Of course, I’m not going to win. The American people are going to win when I’m elected president.
Russert: "You must know that you don’t stand a chance."
Paul: "I know that media elitists are trying their best to create a self-fulfilling prophesy by repeating phrases like that. The truth is I’m the only Republican who has a chance to beat the Democrat in November of next year, and I believe Republican primary voters will come to realize this in time. Let me tell you one of several reasons why. In Iraq, we have a fetid, stinking mess that is now opposed by the American people by a margin of three-to-one, and it’s going to get more and more unpopular. Violence has been reduced only in areas where we turned the local governments over to the same people we formerly fought and called terrorists, such as el Sadr. Polls demonstrate that even a majority of likely Republican primary voters want the United States to pull out of Iraq quickly, and most primary voters want a different approach than President Bush. This is one of the many cases where the right thing to do — pulling out of Iraq quickly — also happens to be the politically expedient thing to do. If any of the other candidates are nominated, the United States will be one vast elephant graveyard after November 2008.
What is Ron Paul not doing right now that I’d like to hear?
For starters, I’d also like him to use personal examples in the cases of torture and detention without trial. I want him to put human, sympathetic faces on the inhuman treatment being meted out against mostly-innocent people across the world (such as Mahar Arar, Khalid el-Masri and Benyam Muhammad) and among American citizens (Jos Padilla and especially Donald Vance). The Bush administration defined torture in a 2003 memorandum as only pain involving major organ failure or death, thus the "tough interrogation" methods employed by the CIA and its rendition subcontractors included electrocution in Egypt, boiling people alive Uzbekistan, and death by long-term hypothermia in the CIA’s secret Afghan prisons. That needs to be widely known, and it also needs to be known that all of the other Republican candidates want torture to continue… even if they don’t want to call it torture.
Donald Vance — especially Donald Vance — should become a household name across the country.
Once people realize that the Bush regime has arrested innocent people, tortured innocent people, and that these innocent people include American citizens like Vance, they’ll take a different tone when someone like Mitt Romney talks about "aggressive interrogations" and parses coyly about waterboarding.
The torture issue is an easy winner for the campaign with the sympathetic face of an innocent victim.
The constitutional standard, of course, is not "torture." It’s "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment. I’d like to see Dr. Paul ask Russert, or Romney, or any of the other smarmy "Hillary Clinton Elephants" on the stage with him at the next debate: "Do you think you could waterboard your dog in a public square in any state of the union and not get arrested for animal cruelty?"
That’s my advice to Ron. But I know he’ll still probably come up with something better than what I’ve just written. I’m still amazed at his opening statement at the first CNN debate where he called himself "the champion of the Constitution." He can’t say that, I thought.
And I thought … wrong.
It was all the more amazing to watch the rest of the debate and hear not one of his opponents challenge the statement. None have done so to this day. Their silence on the Constitution has spoken volumes, far more than anything Dr. Paul could have ever said.