Monday, January 2, 2012

Should the GOP reach out to Odd Uncle Paul?


We all have one.  That odd relative who shows up at major family functions and who is always guaranteed to by the end of the event to offend, embarrass, entertain, or say something a bit strange.  And such relatives often express just enough truth that makes arguing with them difficult.  They also have an expertise at plucking the emotional harp strings.



I agree with many of Dr. Paul's positions on fiscal policy, we need a radical downsizing of government (And Ron Paul is far to the right of even fiscal heroes like Paul Ryan when it comes to that).  Dr. Paul has been predicting economic meltdown and decline for years, and his warnings have started to come to pass (and he is predicting far worse in the future). And Ron Paul pulls in supporters on these issues not only from the right but from the left.  Ron Paul’s decades of authentic opposition of the “Military Industrial Complex” and the Federal Reserve, the left is being challenged as their vitriolic moralizing is boomeranging back at themselves and their Democrat allies.

But Ron Paul's non-interventionist foreign policy is basically the same as Michael Scheuer's.  Dr. Paul's positions on Israel are not just non-interventionist, but downright hostile to the Zionist state (which also mirror's Michael Scheuer's position) [Update III, below].  I did not know that Ron Paul named his son Rand (now Senator Rand Paul) after Ayn Rand.  Yet Ayn Rand said, "When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are."    Palestinians, as individual people, are not savages.  But Palestinian society, as represented and run by Hamas is savage.  Fatah is only slightly better as a kleptocratic organized crime syndicate pretending to be a government.  There is no compromise with Hamas or Fatah, their goals are very clear--they want the conflict to continue and to eventually destroy Israel.

While I understand the argument about being more circumspect in getting involved around the world, we should support our allies.  Israel can probably get by without U.S. financial aid (and it is probably healthier for both the United States and Israel in the long run to do that).  It would give us an excuse to cut back military aid to Egypt.  I do not believe Ron Paul is an anti-Semite, but he sure seems to draw in a lot of them as supporters, and an overt hostility to Israel is not (in my opinion) in the interest of this country.  And while I understand the arguments about cutting foreign aid, it is a very small percentage of our budget and is almost always given in order to buy U.S. influence (and to block influence from others...such as the Chinese).  George Washington's reluctance to throw down with the French Revolution is not exactly on point.

Ron Paul is not going to be the GOP nominee.  So a lot of this is academic. But last time around Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin in the general election.  While that did not alone cost John McCain the election, what if Ron Paul decides to run third party this time?  Would Paul play the Nader spoiler for the GOP?  As this Ron Paul supporter notes, "If the GOP Establishment is successful in convincing Republicans to nominate Romney instead of Paul, and Paul does indeed run as an Independent, Obama will win with 45% of the vote, and the GOP will have no one to blame but themselves."  I have heard plenty of other conservatives say similar things who aren't supporting Ron Paul.  While Mitt Romney may have a good solid 25% of Republicans and Ann Coulter, Jennifer Rubin, and Chris Christy, he is not firing up the conservative base.

Is Ron Paul support even transferable?  Could a candidate like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich (or even very long shots like Rick Santorum) ever win the support of Ron Paul in the general?  Or is it "Ron or I'm gone."  Should the GOP be reaching out to his supporters at this point?  Can they even do so?  Is there anything they could incorporate into the party platform?

Rand Paul is saying that Tea Partiers should stay with the GOP.  That at least is something.  I am more encouraged by signs that Ron Paul might want to influence the GOP platform:
BuzzFeed has a nice piece today on how Paul’s team is strategizing, a la Obama four years ago, to sweep up a bunch of delegates in caucus states to maximize his leverage at the convention. The headline is “Ron Paul’s Secret Plan to Actually Win” but it’s really more “Ron Paul’s Secret Plan to Play Kingmaker or At Least Influence the Platform.” I wonder what the RNC could do for him, realistically, in terms of the latter. They could insert some language in the foreign policy section about America needing to be more mindful of budgetary constraints in its military endeavors and they can include plenty of small-government rhetoric on domestic spending to please libertarians, but social issues stuff like ending the drug war or letting the states decide on gay marriage is a nonstarter. I wonder what happens if Santorum quickly becomes overwhelmed organizationally after Super Tuesday and the race settles into a Romney/Paul dynamic. Romney would end up with many more delegates, for sure, but would we see strategic or protest voting for Paul to try to deny Mitt an outright majority of the delegates? That probably wouldn’t deny him the nomination but it sure would make the convention more interesting.
But couldn't the GOP take a stronger stance on cutting back government and reforming entitlements?  That is something that might appeal to Ron Paul (and should appeal to the rest of us).  And with the carrot there is of course the stick.  Mark Levin is threatening a vendetta against Rand Paul if his father does go third party.   The Christmas-Hannukah, New Year season may be over, but the political party season is just heating up.  And guess who is coming to dinner?

Update:  Jeff Goldstein makes a great point with this (the GOP only has itself to blame for Uncle Paul):

Hence, Ron Paul. The ultimate protest vote from those who reject big government and Wall Street crony capitalism; from those who want significant spending cuts and the elimination of vast swathes of governmental “oversight”; and for those who are put off by the caricature of social conservatism that both the GOP moderates and Democrats have spent years creating and institutionalizing.
Me, I’m sticking with Bachmann or Santorum. And Perry in a pinch. But it’s not like I can’t understand the Paul voters. Because from where I sit, they are a natural reaction to what the GOP has done to its own brand by insisting that it be turned into the more tax-friendly version of progressivism.
Update II:  Townhall's Tip Sheet On Ron Paul's Prospects in Iowa
Ron Paul's success in Iowa is attributable to his vast network of organized, enthusiastic and extremely loyal supporters.  Like Romney, Paul put down campaign markers here four years ago, a reality that lends him a distinct edge over the competition.  The final Des Moines Register poll (widely viewed as the most important survey in the state) suggested that Paul's Iowa surge may be ebbing -- perhaps a sign that general awareness of controversies regarding his newsletters and other conspiratorial indulgences have begun to take root.  A top-three finish is expected...[But]
The Wildcard in all of this is the continuation of a distinct trend I noticed when I was here a few weeks ago: Widespread indecision.  Many Iowans who plan to participate in tomorrow's voting still say they might change their mind about whom to support between now and then.  That adds up to a stunning degree of volatility.  The final DMR poll showed that 41 percent of likely caucus-goers put themselves in that category, which is why the punditry, predictions and polls may not amount to a hill of beans by the time the final results are tabulated. 

Update III:  Both are legitimate points.  I do not believe Paul to be anti-Semetic but rigid in his non-interventionist beliefs.  And while many conservative politicians spoke out against the Israeli bombing of that Iraqi nuclear facility, I think we all know they were privately thrilled by what Israel did.  But Paul's foreign policy positions are radical, naive, and a non starter.  Which is why he will never be a GOP nominee.

 Obstreperous Infidel posted on 1/3 @ 8:40 amAnd yes, Paul really isn’t pro-Israel. 
You’re, right. he’s pro-America. He’s the only national politician in the 80′s, including Saint Reagan, who supported Israel’s bombing of the Iraq nuclear facility. And why did he do that? Because he believes in Israel’s sovereignty as a nation. Their right to protect themselves. As for OBL and Al Queda, he’s right. They have said it time and time again. Why do we turn our backs to that? Because we like to kill Islamists? Hell, my “name” indicates how I feel about the cockroaches, but the truth is that blowback is a real consequence of foreign policy. The only thing that I would like Paul to acknowledge is that, yes, they do indeed hate us for who we are, also. But that’s not a policy that he would change, nor would any of us. But having over 900 military bases in 130 countries is soemthing we can change. All you people complaining about his foreign policy need to read his book, “A Foreign Policy of Freedom” and not rely on the MSM, or some statist republican’s views, on it. It would also do you well to read, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”. Listen, nobody likes Paul, statist republicans or statist democrats, so he doesn’t get a fair shake from any of them. His foreign policy is the same as Robert Taft’s, Mr. Republican.

 Jeff G. posted on 1/3 @ 11:24 amHow in the world is he an isolationist? By not wanting to have our troops in bases all over the world? By not wanting to spend billions, if not trillions of dollars, on morally ambiguous wars? I need to know how that makes him an isolationist?
Did you read the post at the link?
Paul’s foreign policy is based around Paul’s own idea of what comes to constitute a moral war and a moral use of force. From his own mouth I’ve heard him give examples of what are and what are not appropriate uses of force, troop deployment, etc.
I disagree with him. Vehemently. His foreign policy is naive and dangerous. I agree with him on many domestic issues, but as I’ve said, there are other candidates who are just as fiscally conservative and anti-big government available to me — and they don’t share Paul’s silly foreign policy. Which, as I’ve argued, boils down to: “whatever Ron Paul wants it to be, depending on the situation.”
Update IV:   Mark Steyn on why Paul is right (and where he is wrong) about fiscal overhaul.
But Ron Paul, with his breezy indifference to the entitlement question, is peddling the same illusion Obama sold a gullible electorate in 2008 – that, if only America retreats from “Bush’s wars”, life can go on, and we’ll be fat and happy with literally not a care in the world. Big Government parochialism is an appealing fantasy because it suggests America’s fortunes can be restored without pain. But they can’t – and when Ron Paul tells you otherwise he’s talking hogwash.

Update V:  After an impressive show in Iowa, Allahpundit had this quote from Ron Paul:


“Before the voting began in Iowa, Ron Paul was asked by an ABC correspondent, ‘When you lay your head on your pillow at night, do you see yourself in the Oval Office?’
“‘Not really,’ he said.
“But while few Republican strategists expect Mr. Paul to make it to the White House, the results last night showed that at the least he will be a force to be reckoned with in the primaries, and in his party’s politics.
“If he can carry some of his momentum to other states, Mr. Paul is likely to have more influence in the national Republican Party’s platform, a goal of many of his supporters who say their anti-Fed, anti-debt and antiwar movement and message are just as important as Mr. Paul’s candidacy.”

7 comments:

  1. Wow, EBL you are smarter[and prettier] than your evil twin. This is very substantive and I substantially agree with you.

    Sorry about your Badgers.

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  3. You should respond to Mark Steyn and tell him that. The fact is we can't afford our entitlement system and the sooner it is reformed (cut back) the better. We can't tax our way out of it. It is too big a burden for that. Medicare will fail without substantial cuts. Social security could be saved with more modest cuts. But it needs to happen.

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  4. As a Ron paul supporter, I appreciate much of what you have written, and understand your concerns about Ron Paul (foreign policy, mainly), but I must correct you on two things:

    Rand Paul was NOT named after Ayn Rand. This is an old charge made by big government social conservatives (I consider myself to be a small government social conservative, i.e., a right-libertarian) who despise Ayn Rand because she was an atheist.

    And Ron Paul is neither Zionist nor Anti-Zionist (though perhaps your characterization of Mr. Scheuer as such is more accurate), but simply a Constitutionalist. His stance on Israel has been considered by some self-described Zionists to be most in tune with the traditional Zionist axioms of independence and self-reliance. What i mean is that Israel is capable and willing of solving its own problems, and regardless of how Ron Paul feels about israel, he will not get in their way. Additionally, as president, even if Ron paul were to personally oppose certain wars or their objectives, he would fight them to win provided they are Formally Declared by the Congress in Pursuance to the Constitution. This is the exact opposite of what other GOP candidates, and Obama would, will, and are doing, which is to fight undeclared wars, not to win, but to create a perception of security and might, and to bundle funds for defense corporations, who, not by sheer coincidence, are chaired by men who at times also happen to be foreign policy advisors to the President and his cabinet, and to influential members of Congress.

    I did not read your whole piece, because I am short on time, so bear that I have only read and am only responding to the first few paragraphs of what you wrote.

    Thanks,

    Hank

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    1. Thanks for the clarification on Rand's name. I agree with you that Ron Paul view of Israel is that of a neutral. I do not consider Ron Paul anti-Semitic or anti Israel in intent, but given our backing of Israel since 1947--to simply pull that moral support completely away is not the act of a friend. And if Ron Paul was saying, Israel has to get by without U.S. foreign monetary aid--well fair enough. Israel could get by without that (and that would mean similar aid to Egypt should end too). But the U.S. does have a role (right or wrong) with helping to maintain peace between Israel and Egypt due to Camp David and we should continue to play that role (to a point). Does it mean getting involved in a war in Sinai? No it does not. But being an ally can be more behind the scenes than that (think Reagan and Thatcher during the Falklands Island war).

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    2. Diplomacy and Trade are the answers. War, and I know you agree, is the last resort, and should always be Formally Declared by Congress.

      As long as Congress is in charge, as they should be, of sending troops into harms way, Ron Paul's stance on issues, including Iran should be much less frightening to those concerned about Iran.

      Cheers,

      And by the way I started my own blog today, which you can see if you click on my name. Nothing much there yet.

      Hank

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    3. Very cool Hank. Congratulations. I can't wait to check it out when you have more stuff. Good post too.

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I had to stop Anonymous comments due to spam. But I welcome all legitimate comments. Thanks.