forgive myself for voting for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor
2003 recall. I selected a winnable loser rather
than Tom McClintock,
a principled conservative who knew what policies to pursue to right
Californias sinking fiscal ship. If everyone who voted for
Schwarzenegger under the belief that McClintock couldnt win
had voted for McClintock, whos now a congressman, perhaps
he would have won the governorship.
vs. McClintock race springs to mind as Ron Paul, the quirky Texas
congressman with unwavering libertarian principles, pursues the
GOP nomination for the presidency. Paul is not a dynamic personality,
but he has a firm grasp of the issues. Currently, he is near the
top of polls for the Iowa caucuses, and his national support has
We know that
none of the other Republicans will seriously slash the size of government,
even if they have Republican majorities in Congress. None of them
will bring the troops home, regardless of how costly those wars
have become or how contrary they are to the traditional Republican
belief of nonintervention in foreign affairs.
rhetoric from some candidates (i.e., Rick Perrys description
of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme), the serious candidates
will not try to swap U.S. entitlements with private alternatives.
None of them
will address the Federal Reserve, which, according to Paul, makes
it easy for the feds to print the money needed to finance their
free-spending ways. At best, a winning mainstream Republican will
tinker around the edges of reform, perhaps limiting government just
enough to let the economy heat up again.
Even if Paul
pulls off the upset of the century, he may not have the skills or
congressional support to succeed. He can be obtuse, such as the
time when he was asked about his favorite Ronald Reagan legacy and
gave a boring answer about the money supply. But despite his many
flaws, he at least he understands that the nations problems
center on its gargantuan government.
Too bad everyone
knows he cant win.
Stewart once featured a devastating segment (YouTube below) on the
media coverage of the primary race. Paul had high poll numbers but
the talking heads wouldnt mention his name. They talked about
the hapless Jon Huntsman, who was barely registering on the polls,
but didnt mention Paul. After one blogger took him to task
for writing about the presidential candidates without mentioning
Paul, Jonah Goldberg, editor of National Review Online, responded:
The reason I didnt mention him is precisely the reason
[he] suspects: I dont take Ron Paul seriously as a presidential
contender because (in my opinion) he isnt one. He is the Rights
version of Ralph Nader.
writer Warner Todd Huston wrote recently that Paul is not a serious
candidate because he has not built a serious statewide organization,
which might be a legitimate argument except that Huston hurled unfounded
accusations at Paul, charging his minions with anti-Semitism and
surrender in the face of Islamofascism. His diatribe
against the mild-mannered physician/candidate touches on why most
conservatives wont take him seriously Pauls foreign-policy
To the hawks
who dominate the modern GOP (and the Democratic Party, too, lest
you wonder why the presidents foreign policy differs little
from his predecessors), Pauls focus on reducing military
commitments and concentrating on defense rather than on nation-building
is the equivalent of appeasement in the face of Nazism, which is
the analogy Huston used.
think it a waste of time to hammer a candidate with no chance of
winning. But those conservatives committed to military expansion
abroad and who have little concern about the war on terrors
effect on civil liberties at home dont want to take chances.
The lefties dislike him too, as Bob Schieffers rude interview
on Face the Nation last weekend showed.
Paul might just win Iowa. I was active in the caucuses there years
ago. Its a socially conservative state. But the libertarian
Paul is making inroads. In these dire economic times, more voters
are noticing that government growth, debt spending and the economy
not have a good campaign ground game going, but Herman Cain doesnt
have much of a ground game, either. That didnt stop Cain from
getting weeks of serious national media coverage. His campaign was
derailed by sexual harassment allegations, and by his painfully
embarrassing answer to an newspaper editorial boards puffball
question about President Obamas Libya policy. Cain knew nothing
about the topic as he aimlessly searched his empty mental Rolodex
for answers. Cains collapse came after Perrys infamous
oops moment during a GOP debate when he was asked which
three federal departments he would eliminate, but he couldnt
think of a third one.
Speaker Newt Gingrich is the flavor of the month, as GOP primary
voters search for anyone but Mitt Romney, whose slick personality
and fairly liberal policies turn off grass-roots activists.
has malleable principles himself, and he is dogged by personal scandals.
to be impressed by any of the other Republican candidates, who range
from the hopelessly establishmentarian (Rick Santorum and Huntsman)
to the fringy (Michele Bachmann, who has been dubbed the winner
of the Whos Crazier Than Sarah Palin contest by
comedian Conan OBrien, because of some of her rhetoric).
When you look
at the Republican lineup or at the out-of-his-depth former community
activist who went from state senator to Oval Office in four years,
its hard to make the case that Paul is somehow not serious.
In reality, Paul cant win because the political
establishment knows how serious he is about his limited-government
Even in the
most optimistic scenario, Paul is a long shot. But the countrys
problems are so deep that perhaps its time to take a chance
on someone with the right answers, regardless of the odds. Unless,
of course, youre still celebrating the way that Gov. Schwarzenegger
saved California from disaster.