Monday, December 24, 2007

Pressing Ron Paul

CNN, not surprisingly, commits a disservice to the Ron Paul campaign by reporting in a headline that Paul "Won't Rule Out 3rd Party Run." I witnessed the interview myself on Meet the Press and can say that Paul made every effort to clarify that he is not "absolute" about that, or for that matter about anything, and that he has a high disregard for those who claim to be absolute about things, and by the way, that's why he won't say with any more than a 99.9% certainty that he does not plan to run as an independent in the general election should his primary campaign end in defeat.

And, oh yes, [paraphrased] why aren't you [Russert] asking John McCain and others whether they will run in a third party campaign?

A good question for which Russert had a respectable answer: Well, Dr. Paul, you did run as a Libertarian once when you didn't get the Republican endorsement,...

There were a number of things I found unsettling in this interview. I have to admit, though I am not a fan of Russert's, and I know his method is to confront guests with things they've said and done publicly which seem contradictory, he did a decent job confronting Paul.

Libertarian leaning Republicans appreciate Paul because he is true to the "reduce the size of government" principals held by most real Republicans - coming from RI where there are a lot of RINO's, I think I know the difference. These same libertarian Republicans say, "listen to Paul: he sounds like Reagan." Well, maybe not on the issue of defense and international interventionism, in which Paul is clearly isolationist and Reagan an absolute (oops! got to watch that word) interventionist.

But Russert cleverly got around to the fact that although Paul was one of the first who supported Reagan (and shown photos of just a few who did from Congress in the early days), he later disowned Reagan, calling him a "failure."

All you who think Reagan a "failure" please raise your hands.

Yes, Reagan was not completely true to the libertarian-like principals he espoused in his famous pre-election speeches. But can we call Reagan a "failure?"

At the very least, Paul fans need to stop making the analogy. Paul is no supporter of Reagan anymore. Stop trying to lull us into the idea that he'd be a president like Reagan. Far from it.

According to Paul, not only did Reagan fail on economic matters, like failing to abolish the Department of Education, and reducing the size of government, and lowering the tax burden, but he was a crazy interventionist in Central America with all those battles fought directly and indirectly with brutes and Communists. Oh, and he probably shouldn't have bothered to influence the end of the cold war and the releasing of millions of people out of the bonds of Communist dictatorship and into the light of freedom by standing before the Brandenburg gate and calling for the wall to be torn down. No, Reagan failed in doing so. He should have tended to his own flock between the Atlantic and Pacific. He should have focused myopically and solely on our little island.

And this is why the Paul candidacy, although attractive to young, libertarian thinking Republicans, will never command serious attention and support. I'm not saying the support isn't or won't be passionate. Lord knows, there is a lot of money and passion behind the Paul candidacy. But it won't succeed.

Yes, there are a lot of Objectivist Ayn Randian thinking entrepreneurs who love his style of hyper-capitalist, materialist limited government thinking, God bless them. But for each one of them there are 2 or 3 traditionalist Republicans and neo-Cons who, IMHO, rightfully believe in a hybrid which includes limited government, but also keeping a wise eye on the world around them, able and willing to defend the freedoms we have, and charitably assist in the freeing of slaves to dictatorships around the world. Whitaker Chambers, where are you when we need you.

The Ron Pauls of the world are interesting, right on some things, and a necessary part of the diverse universe of Republican thinking, and they are welcome to the choir of debate on the ideal functioning limitedly governed society, but they are purists who leave out spirituality, charity and the occasional need to fight wars against dictators, pirates, terrorists, fascists and communists, all of whom would have us for breakfast if we stuck our heads in the sand, believing there will be "peace in our time" as those of Paul's following seem to believe.


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