July 18, 2007

Neocon blogger-GOP “insider” Patrick Ruffini —described by the New York Times as a former “e-director for the Republican National Committee”— who previously tried to downplay Ron Paul’s astounding fundraising success, is now predicting that the Texas troublemaker will come in second in the Iowa straw poll. Yes, the times they are a changin’.

It’s early in the campaign. Most normal people don’t pay attention to these sorts of machinations, but the stage is being set for an exciting election season drama, one I hope to be covering in earnest in these pages, with especial attention to the Paul campaign. The “mainstream” media is just beginning to sit up and take notice, now that Paul has surpassed former frontrunner John McCain in the fundraising race. There is respectul attention, typfied by Tucker Carlson’s apparent conversion. And there is also not-so-respectful attention.

The smear machine is cranking up, with the New York Sun‘s Ryan Sager trying to characterize him as an anti-Semite—because he described the pro-Israel lobby as among the most powerful in Washington, an evaluation no objective analyst could dispute—and The Politico outright lying about Paul’s remarks on the prospects of war with Iran—which they report as Paul saying the administration is planning a staged terrorist attack on US soil. The desperation of the latter tactic—the smear piece had a link to the acutal interview in which Paul said no such thing —borders on panic.

Paul answered a long, typically confused and verbose question from Alex Jones, in which competing strands of various scenarios unfolded in the, uh, colorful radio host’s overactive imagination: the unflapple Paul, making the best of the situation, said he thought the administration might manufacture a casus belli, as in the case of the infamoius Tonkin Gulf “incident,” to provoke a war with Iran. The Politico “reported” this as Paul saying he thought the administration was planning a staged attack on American soil.

The Politico, which aspires to be the political junkie site, simply made its story up out of whole cloth: it was such an egregious distortion that even the thoroughly neoconized National Review had to protest (thanks, David Freddoso!). Yet the remnants of the smear live on. Here‘s Bob Novak, writing in Human Events, on the Paul campaign:

“Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) has gained much attention for being the only anti-war Republican in the race. At the same time as some Republicans are accusing him of treason, he appears to have collected more in campaign donations from active-duty military than any other Republican presidential candidate. He has attracted enough attention that some worry about a third-party candidacy.

“Paul’s anti-ethanol subsidy position will not help him in Iowa. Yet like Buchanan, he embraces an isolationist foreign policy that many Iowans appreciate. He recently stoked controversy with an appearance on the radio show of a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, in which he suggested that the Bush Administration is looking for an excuse to go to war with Iran.”

An otherwise favorable and objective analysis, laced with the remnants of a smear. That’s how a smear lives on – and the War Party is particularly good at this. You might even say they specialize in it.

These attacks, however, only serve to draw attention to the motives of the smear-mongers. The Republican Establishment isn’t going to give up power without a fight—and they are tied to this wretched war, which will be an albatross hung ‘round the neck of every Republican running for office for years to come. Rep. Paul is the only GOP candidate in the race who stands foursquare against the war—and the neocons who lied us into it.

This, by the way, is the real “stab in the back” theory of who lost the Iraq war— not the liberals in Congress and the media, who merely reacted to the immense failure they partly collaborated in bringing about, but the neoconservative ideologues who falsified “intelligence” and hyped “factoids” to deceive the nation into believing Saddam Hussein posed a credible threat. Paul understands the nature and extent of the Neocon Problem in the GOP, and they are clearly out for blood. Their big problem, however, is that so is he.


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