October 26, 2007

They scoffed at Ron Paul’s poll numbers—six months before a single vote was cast. Now he’s at 7.4 percent [.pdf file] in the latest New Hampshire poll. He’s in fourth place, he’s got $5.3 million to spend, and the campaign will soon air the first Paul-for-President television ads. The state is swarming with young volunteers—Ron is the Eugene McCarthy of the Old Right. As I predicted, the Ron Paul Effect is being felt.

Marc Ambinder, over at The Atlantic , confesses:

“For the longest time, many journalists, myself included, did not take Ron Paul seriously. It wasn’t that his politics—a combination of libertarian constitutionalism and social conservatism—were unusual. It was, principally, that he was anti-war in a party where that view dare not express itself.”

Interesting phraseology, there: the antiwar sentiment is present, but closeted, so to speak: the view that dares not speak its name. Yet who and what is speaking in these primaries—GOP congressmen who whisper their disgust with the neocons’ war in the House cafeteria? Well, no. Yes, but you would think that a commentator opining on the race for the White House would know some basics about, say, New Hampshire politics, namely that independent voters can cast a ballot in the GOP primary, and the state is staunchly, overwhelmingly antiwar.

“Paul,” Ambinder announces, “is now emerging as a serious threat in New Hampshire, perhaps not to win it—although the winner may need only 25% or so—, but to influence the outcome in a way that reflects his worldview.” To what do we owe this Strange New Respect, aside from Ron’s rising poll numbers? That’s because of this morning’s respectful piece in the New York Times, which notes his big bank account, the launch of his publicity blitz, and his scheduled presence on Jay Leno’s show this coming Tuesday, and, in a sure sign that our Ron Paul moment has come, hauls out a Certified Expert to assess the campaign:

“‘It’s striking to me that he’s at 7 percent without running a single TV ad in New Hampshire,”€ [Dante J. Scala, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire] said. ‘If he starts to attract significant support among independents, then he could start to hurt Giuliani or McCain.’”€
I’m not sure which prospect pleases me more—Ron’s rise, or the fall of Giuliani and/or McCain. But that’s just me …

UPDATE: I’m watching “McLaughlin Group,” and when it came time for the end-of-the-show predictions, Eleanor Clift averred that “Ron Paul will be the story coming out of New Hampshire.” The buzz gets louder …


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