Previously by Dave Trotter: Electability: Ron Paul Soundly Defeats Obama for These Eleven Reasons
After a withering barrage of record-quoting "negative" advertisements from Ron Paul and Mitt Romney in early December, Newt Gingrich, the disgraced intellectual — supporter of carbon taxes, global treaties dismantling American sovereignty, the domestic police state, Romneycare/Obamacare-style "individual mandates," big-spending, no-bid contracted military interventionism abroad, and even amnesty-by-another-name — began hemorrhaging supporters.
The precipitous slide was predicted by anyone who's been watching the primary spectacle thus far, both because the "anyone-but-Romney" baton had already passed from Bachmann, to Perry, and to Cain before it was Gingrich's turn; and because Gingrich's string of mercenary compromises on key conservative issues over the years hamstrung him with Republican primary voters.
Incidentally, that latter revelation was inevitable — no matter how brightly the media coronation for Gingrich flashed, ever so briefly.
After all, Republican primary voters in 2012 seek a "conservative" standard bearer for president, as they say they do in every election. However, in this election, 2012, they seek a standard bearer against the backdrop of an apocalyptic, derivative-debt-driven fissure of instability in the global and U.S. economies; an endless hangover from eleven years of interventionist wars and fearful propaganda; the ubiquitous, depraved invasiveness of the TSA; the rising influence of Tea Party demands for spending cuts; and the teetering, precarious solvency of the United States government itself.
If Republican voters don't mean it this time, they never will.
We live in a period in history during which the status quo is particularly indefensible. Joe Q. Public knows this, too, inherently, despite organized media's attempts to distract him with noisy irrelevancies. Any candidate representing or even appearing to defend the status quo will suffer in the polls accordingly: thus, five Flavors of the Month, "anybody-but-Romney" establishment ("Frontrunner!") candidates so far in 2011, and the voting hasn't even begun.
The only interesting and surprising aspect of Newt's particular breakdown is the timing. His collapse commenced with only a few short weeks remaining before the Iowa caucuses — not enough time to introduce another "frontrunner." You have to believe that the GOP establishment certainly would've preferred that Newt ride out his turn through an Iowa victory over Ron Paul before ultimately, and graciously, sacrificing his supporters to Romney, post-New Hampshire.
However, as Gingrich collapsed in Iowa, Ron Paul surged, building support among independents, liberals, and traditional conservatives alike. Paul's coalition demonstrates — in tangible reality — a formula for success in the general election against Obama. None of the other Republican primary candidates can emulate, let alone surpass, Paul's appeal to independents, moderates, and disaffected liberals. The case for Paul's general electability is rather clear-cut against Obama. The other Republican candidates, on the other hand, could fill a barge with begged questions about their electability with independents versus the president.
The lack of a Democrat contest in Iowa benefits Paul as well, freeing unattached Democrats to cross over and support him in the caucuses. These are disillusioned liberals whose support Paul can continue to build in the general election, nationally, if he wins the GOP nomination.
Ron Paul's surge to the lead in Iowa not only demonstrates the timeliness of his message, but also the strength of his traditional grassroots campaigning on the ground. After months of being ignored by a profoundly biased media, Paul's prospects suddenly, if not unexpectedly, improved dramatically at exactly the right time — much to the dismay of the residual Bush/Cheney-wing neoconservatives still disproportionately represented in the GOP establishment.
Things are clearly on track for a Paul victory in Iowa, perhaps beyond, but instead of rallying around Paul, the rising champion — an authentic symbol of "hope and change" — the War Party reacts as if cornered. We're indeed witnessing an existential identity crisis within the GOP: the limited government conservatives versus the global empire-promoting, entrenched establishment.
By mid-December, the GOP establishment recognized that their initial strategy of ignoring Ron Paul hadn't succeeded in discrediting him, so they attacked him directly instead. Some establishment pundits even ventured so far as to preemptively dismiss the credibility of the caucuses in the event of a Paul victory. The event itself, they say, let alone Iowa's envied "first in the nation" status, obviously would not survive the indignity of a Paul victory.
What reasonable person wouldn't interpret that type of statement as a threat? Elect Ron Paul, Iowans, and you can expect to be punished by another state's primary usurping your coveted "first in the nation" status.
Other establishment GOP figures quickly piled on, and suddenly, the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses matter not, according to GOP talking points, if Ron Paul wins. Iowa Republican governor Terry Branstad advised voters to ignore a Paul victory in Iowa: "'People are going to look at who comes in second and who comes in third,' said Branstad, adding, u2018If [Mitt] Romney comes in a strong second, it definitely helps him going into New Hampshire and the other states.'" (Coincidentally, Branstad is rumored to be one of Romney's expedient targets for vice president.)
The attacks culminated in the promotion of an absurd contradiction: that the party and candidates would expend so much energy and so many resources in a state contest, the Iowa caucuses, that've predicted two of the last three nominees (excluding Huckabee) — yet could also somehow be rendered irrelevant and meaningless if Ron Paul wins.
Then, amidst this flurry of a backstage GOP meltdown, this conveniently unverifiable claim appeared on Foxnews.com (emphasis added):
Republican Party officials in Iowa are taking new steps to secure their vote counting systems after an anonymous threat suggested computer hackers could attempt to disrupt next month’s presidential nominating caucuses.
A video uploaded to YouTube features a computer-generated voice denouncing a corrupt political system and calls on supporters to “peacefully shut down” the Jan. 3 caucuses.
. . .
The party fears such a delay could disrupt the traditional influence of the Iowa caucuses. Candidates who do well tend to gain momentum in the presidential race, while those finishing at the back of the pack may drop out.
“With the eyes of the media on the state, the last thing we want to do is have a situation where there is trouble with the reporting system. We don’t want that to be the story,” said Wes Enos, a member of the central committee and the political director for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign in Iowa.
The two-minute video features a computer-generated voice denouncing what it calls a corrupt political system that favors corporations and calls on supporters to “peacefully shut down the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.” The video claims to be from Anonymous, a loosely organized group of hackers that has claimed credit for attacks on targets ranging from the Peruvian government to Paypal. (Foxnews.com.)
Uncanny how these events unfold.
Prior to this alleged threat, "Anonymous" was notorious for attacking PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa with denial of service attacks — as retribution for those corporations blocking donations to WikiLeaks. Further, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would probably qualify as organized-media-anointed poster representatives for the anti-establishment. To emphasize the point: "Anonymous" acted in direct, symbolic sympathy for WikiLeaks.
Ron Paul, meanwhile, is the only presidential candidate (among Republicans or Obama) who's voiced principled support for Bradley Manning, the imprisoned Army intelligence analyst the Military claims provided WikiLeaks with "restricted" materials that allegedly "aided the enemy" in the first place. Neoconservatives uniformly revile Manning as a traitor, while Ron Paul hails Manning as a "patriotic hero" government whistleblower.
Yet now, at this particular moment in time, this allegedly anti-establishment group "Anonymous," complete with Guy Fawkes masks, threatens the Iowa caucuses — just when it appears likely that anti-establishment Ron Paul is poised for victory there? That makes no logical sense.
This uncanny synchronicity between Anonymous and a desperate GOP establishment provided a convenient pretext for party officials to announce that they will "move the vote tabulation" of the caucus precinct results to "an undisclosed location." Needless to say, the best remedy to counter any potential vote fraud is transparency and the light of day — not secrecy and isolation. Instead, this move takes the precinct results into some "undisclosed location" for counting by Republican Party insiders.
Considering the recent self-destructive antics of the GOP over the prospect of a Ron Paul victory in Iowa, will the public accept as legitimate any results that emerge from a secret room?
Meanwhile, in the absence of another suitable "anybody-but-Romney" "Frontrunner!" to grab the baton, the organized media now attempts a narrative that Romney is suddenly no longer the same radioactive flip-flopper who inspired the entire “anybody-but-Romney” sweepstakes until now.
We're supposed to believe that Mitt Romney suddenly, and I would add inexplicably, is surging for an upset in Iowa.
Romney, the original "health insurance mandater" — of navy blue Massachusetts — whose signature achievement, Romneycare, became the design model for Obamacare (a GOP primary heresy), and which now festers over with the trappings of institutional, interventionist failure: runaway costs, shortages, and complaints.
As for seeking that conservative standard bearer, voters will discover Romney to be his own worst enemy. For a man who's only managed to win a single election out of a limited run of campaigns, an impressive array of YouTube clips immortalizes his past fervency for current Republican heresy: especially abortion, gun rights, and bailouts.
Presumably, this discovery already occurred, which is why Romney's never pulled away from the rest of the pack, and why we've had no fewer than five establishment "frontrunner" lead changes so far, not counting Donald Trump. Do voters suddenly find "conservative" issues irrelevant? Or is something more nefarious at work?
Two likely possibilities exist:
- This time, the establishment media is telling the truth about Romney's supposed surge in Iowa, and the rest of the media's history of manipulative bias against Ron Paul can be ignored — again, this time.
- These stories about Romney's surge in Iowa are a cynical ruse, a cover for a direct plot to manipulate the vote tabulation in the sequestered secrecy of the "undisclosed location" and change the outcome of the caucuses.
Tainting the caucus results by way of a staged, forensically unverifiable "hacking attack" — and more importantly, delaying the certification of the results — would allow ample opportunity to falsify any required forgeries if bad actors chose to steal it outright. But at a minimum, delaying the certification of the results robs the winner, and for the sake of argument we'll say that's Ron Paul, of priceless momentum heading into New Hampshire just seven days later.
Could this be the plan to prevent a Paul victory in Iowa from cutting into Romney's once formidable lead in New Hampshire? The GOP establishment certainly has demonstrated motive: in December alone, multiple GOP luminaries overtly expressed their desire to squelch the impact of a Paul victory in Iowa, after all. Blaming it all on “Anonymous” even grants party hacks plausible deniability.
Unfortunately, conducting the caucus vote tabulation "in an undisclosed location" will lead directly to speculation and questions about the legitimacy of the results — regardless of the announced winner. Party officials are setting themselves up for controversy, and seemingly on purpose.
All of the chaotic drama surrounding the Iowa caucuses evokes an over-cited quotation: "You know, comrades," says Stalin, "that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how."
Time will tell.