The lamestream media still thinks it gets to define what is the mainstream, and that's why every account of the recent Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) "reported" that, yes, Ron Paul won the straw poll, but the real significance of the event was John Huntsman's second place finish. Pointing to the youthfulness and passion of the Paulians, lamestream media outlets invariably also mention the organizational prowess of the Paul Machine in getting their people to these cattle calls. Yet few noted Huntsman's organization also focused on the New Orleans gathering, which not only sent Huntsman's wife and top campaign aides but also paid supporters of Obama's ambassador to China to attend. Where did the money come from to undertake this expensive effort?
Well, we know where Ron got his money – from tens of thousands of small contributions coming in from all over the country in the famous Ron Paul "money bombs" that have wowed political professionals across the spectrum. But what about Huntsman's cash? It came from "HPAC," the political action committee Huntsman launched soon after resigning his ambassadorship: and where did that money come from? Well, since Huntsman has yet to actually declare, he doesn't have to disclose that information, but what I want to know is did he pay for those RLC votes in dollars or yuan?
I'm only half-kidding about that, but the main point is that the lamestreamers – and their neocon bag men – are determined to rob the only consistent anti-interventionist in the race of his victories, no matter how many he chalks up. This is pretty much par for the course, but what's really absurd about this dismissive attitude is the media's unwillingness to recognize the enormous intellectual influence of Paul's views – and especially his foreign policy views – have had on the GOP, and not just on the activist base, but the wider Republican electorate. Take a look at this recent Pew Poll, the results of which are summed up in their headline: "In Shift From Bush Era, More Conservatives Say 'Come Home America.'"
"In their first major presidential debate June 13, the Republican candidates sketched out a cautious approach to U.S. global engagement that would represent a departure from the policies of the Bush administration. Yet their ideas are very much in tune with the evolving views of the GOP base.
"In the Pew Research Center's political typology survey, released May 4, majorities in every partisan group – including 55% of conservative Republicans – said the U.S. 'should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home.'
"In December 2004, conservative Republicans had been the only group in which a majority had expressed the opposing view – 58% said 'it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.' The proportion of conservative Republicans supporting U.S. activism in world affairs has fallen by 19 points to 39%. Since 2004, liberal Democrats and independents also have become less supportive of U.S. global engagement, but the change has been most dramatic among conservatives."
Even more definitively, more Republicans (45%) than Democrats (43%) now say "the U.S. should mind its own business internationally." In previous surveys, the MYOB faction of the GOP was half as large.
Paul's influence on the foreign policy debate in the GOP is hard to deny, even if you're a "reporter." Yet deny it they have: they're not about to give any credit to someone they consider The Enemy. Christiane Amanpour spent the entire hour of her Sunday show giving John McCain a platform to denounce Republican "isolationism" – and herself sounding the alarm throughout the other segments – without once mentioning the most prominent "isolationist" of them all, the one who made it okay – and then cool – to question America's burden of empire in polite Republican company: Ron Paul.
Surely the War Party is scared to death that the so-called "isolationist" (i.e., anti-meddling) wing of the GOP will take over: what really mortifies them, however, isn't Paul winning straw polls (although they don't like it), but the other candidates echoing Paul's views, albeit in vague and very watered-down terms. That's why McCain, the architect of the GOP's last electoral disaster, and his neoconservative janissaries have taken to the hustings to exorcise the "isolationist" demon.
June 21, 2011
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
Copyright © 2011 Antiwar.com