Sunday, December 23, 2007

The viablity of Ron Paul

TOC recently commented upon, and linked to, an analysis of GOP Presidential candidates. That analysis ended by endorsing Fred Thompson. I concluded my post with, "There's no endorsement from TOC, but I hope Thompson remains viable yet awhile. Assuming he still is in the first place, of course."

This elicited a question from Paladin:
I'd like to see your justification for considering Thompson "viable", but not Paul.

The media hates Paul and loves Thompson. Is that it?
Given TOCs history, the implication that my opinion on this matter is driven by the MSM seems overwrought, and I did not claim Thompson was viable - I hoped he was and I wondered about it.

The actual question would seem to be why I do not see Ron Paul in a better light. Unfortunately, this is not difficult to answer. I'd like to like Ron Paul, he favors quite a few policies with which I am in complete agreement. There is, however, a deal breaker for me.

1- Paul advocates withdrawal from NATO and the United nations. This is good.

However, he also proposes immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and a ban on supplying any more foreign or domestic aid to rebuild the country. Since he opposed invading Iraq from the beginning this position can be said to be principled. It can also be called naive. Worse, he can't stop at criticizing the Battle of Iraq as a waste of blood and treasure.

In Paul's view, expressed during a presidential debate; "They [9-11 terrorists] attack us because we've been over there, we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East. I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics."

In other words, some foreigners don't like us because we shoot back at an international pariah under international sanction, in the aftermath of a war initiated by said pariah that threatened US national interests - a situation continuing for 10 years only because of the unfortunate irresolution of Bush I. Because of those factors, we should do more to appreciate the irrationality of Middle Eastern fanatics who felt it necessary to fly airliners into the WTC and Pentagon?

It is one thing to oppose going to war, it is entirely another to propose to abandon a war while victory can be achieved. It was politicians who lost Vietnam after our huge victory during the Tet offensive. Paul would surrender to the opinion of Islamists in the same fashion. He is even able to downplay the threat of an Iranian nuke:
The threat of Iran developing a nuclear weapon has been overblown, and their chances of using one are "slim to none," he said.

"We either subsidize people or we bomb them. Why not try another option?" Paul asked. "We shouldn't get hysterical that in 10 years or more they might have a nuclear weapon."
Paul's foreign policy positions make me unable ever to vote for him. I think a vast majority of those not into "cut and run" agree.

If Dennis Kucinich would be comfortable as SecDef under a Ron Paul administration, I would not. Why vote for Paul for President when you can have Edwards, Obama or Clinton to get the troops out? Because his domestic policies are anathema to you as a Liberal? Paul's foreign policy produces results identical to that of the fringe left, who will never vote for him. Paul nicely alienates both ends of the political spectrum and his iconoclasm will never be appreciated by the middle.

Withdrawal at any cost is a sufficient negative for me, but since it is viability which is at issue, there are ancillary items which will matter to others. Things upon which Democrats will certainly seize...

2- Paul would like us to think his opposition to wasteful federal spending is as important to him as his non-interventionism. To me, this would mean complete eschewal of pork and earmarks in any form.

Granted, none of the other candidates can claim superiority here. However, they do not make it a moral absolute. Ron Paul should meet his own higher standard, and he does not. Here is a list of Paul Pork.

His defense of his participation in earmark fiascos is that he does not think the feds should take your money in the first place, but since they do it's only right to try and get some back. Paul supporters point out that he consistently votes against pork laden bills, including the pork he's requested. This is an unsatisfactory answer on principle. Paul knows full well his vote is inconsequential. His earmarks get passed over his "objection."

Ron Paul isn't returning stolen money. He's participating in the theft. He gets no points for ritually objecting to it. He would get some questions about it in any debate with a Democrat Presidential nominee.

As the Club for Growth 2007 RePORK Card points out, Paul's anti-pork voting percentage is 29.
Some of the outrageous pork projects Paul voted to keep include $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association's Urban Center; $129,000 for the "perfect Christmas tree project;" $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft Technician Training Project in California; $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium; and $500,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California.[30] This year, Ron Paul requested more than sixty earmarks "worth tens of millions of dollars for causes as diverse as rebuilding a Texas theater, funding a local trolley, and helping his state's shrimp industry."[31]

...This is a contradiction of Paul's self-proclaimed "opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution."[33]
3- Paul flirts with fringe paranoids.

Ron Paul receives significant support from "Truthers," those who believe that 9/11 was a US government conspiracy. This has nothing necessarily to do with Ron Paul. He cannot choose his supporters, and that such people are attracted to his campaign does not even suggest he agrees with them. Paul claims he knows little about such ideas, but does not exactly go out of his way to reject this particular conspiracy theory. He has appeared four times on the Alex Jones radio show. For Paul to profess ignorance about 9/11 conspiracy theories, while repeatedly chatting with a conspiracy promoter is too cute by half.

When informed that his candidacy had received $500 from a white supremacist, (and this is the only item I've seen the MSM pounce on) he did not see any problem with accepting it. I am not saying this in any way reflects Paul's personal beliefs. Again, he doesn't get to choose his supporters. However, viability in the general election requires somewhat more than a "What's your problem?" response.

He has refused to return the money, as is his right. He could defuse the issue entirely by giving it to a charity, especially one opposed to white supremacists. That he has not taken this suggestion indicates a certain tone deafness unlikely to be beneficial to a presidential nominee. He's turning lemons into battery acid over $500.

The viability question does not turn on whether I believe Ron Paul solicits support from kooks, it is whether other voters will believe it when he does not actively reject such support.

I acknowledge that Fred Thompson's viablity is an extremely thin reed. Ron Paul, however, is dead meat to the GOP base and that's the nomination he is seeking.


Paladin said...


Excellent job of answering your own question. But you fail to address my question, except obliquely when you backpedal on the viability of Thompson. As you point out, your original post stated not that you hope Thompson is viable but rather that you hoped he remained viable. And without your assumption that he is, your endorsement is empty. So I take it you will soon withdraw your support for Thompson unless your "hope" for his viability is fulfilled.

As for Paul's views on war, he is a Libertarian in the mold of Ludwig von Mises who set down in his classic "Liberalism" 13 points that make up the Foundation of Liberal Policy. One of these is Peace. It is Mises view that the only war which is justified is one of self-defense.

Reasonable men can disagree whether or not the invasion of Iraq was self-defense. I believe it was; you believe it was. Paul believes it was not. His less than eloquent comments on blowback originated in the 911 Commission Report and have since been subjected to the same hysterical MSM tactics that were used against Rush, Newt, Lott, George Romney, and etc.

75% of ordinary Americans favored invading Iraq in the spring of 2003. Hypocrites like most of MSM, both Clintons, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, change their postion with the prevailing winds or to gain political advantage, but Paul opposed the war even when it was the unpopular position.

I happen to believe Paul is wrong on Iraq, but I don't find it sufficient reason to reject him out of hand. I also disagreed with Alan Keyes on a few important issues, but he would have made a better president than the current occupant.

Now. Notwithstanding any of that: Paul is every bit as viable as Thompson. The only expressions otherwise of which I am aware are those of MSM, yourself, and the puppet chair of the Michigan GOP, Saul Anuzis.

Hershblogger said...

There is explicitly no endorsement.

I do expect Thompson to finish in the top 3 in Iowa. This is a thin reed, but Paul has not got any reed, thin or otherwise.

Such a finish for Thompson will still not produce an endorsement from me. So, you're right, without some more evidence I will not have any more endorsement in 8 days than I had 5 days ago.

The hysterical tactics used against Rush and Newt, not to mention Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Petraeus are of a different nature because they held/hold positions in opposition to the MSM wisdom. Most of the MSM agree with Paul's position that America is to blame for being attacked. If they are hysterical it is not in opposition to that.

For other non-MSM views of Ron Paul I would direct you to Captain's Quarters, Powerline, Michelle Malkin, and Little Green Footballs. A more comprehensive list could be discovered.

Paladin said...

Paul and MSM may agree on Iraq now, but they did not agree in 2003. And notwithstanding this one example of common ground, they are opposed on virtually everything else. MSM thinly, if at all, disguises its contempt for Paul. Anyone who advocates abolishing the Department of Education, terminating the income tax, and closing the Federal Reserve Bank must be a fruitcake, eh?

I concede your point regarding "explicitly".

And to be clear, I endorse neither Paul nor Thompson, but favor both over Huckabee and McCain.

Paladin said...

Looks like your position is gaining strength. Bill Kristol called Paul a "crackpot" on Fox today, so I guess we can infer that Kristol considers him less than viable too.

Paul was excoriated for his statement that Lincoln was wrong to prosecute the Civil War. Again I find that I do not agree with Paul. But also again, I find it objectionable that he is attacked with name-calling rather than with reasoned arguments. Other than adding the charge that Paul is "anti-American", the best that Kristol/Fox could come up with is to maintain that slavery would still exist today had it not been for the Civil War. I find this a bit beyond belief myself.