September 11, 2008

Addenda on “The r3VOLution is Over”

My post on Ron Paul?s press conference was written while I was generally exasperated and in a bad temper, so let me add a few addenda now that I?ve cooled down a bit. 

First, Chuck Baldwin has unfortunately not been able to become the kind of phenomenon that was Paul. Still, he remains the most consistently conservative candidate in the field?and he?s also a good writer and a perfect gentleman. At the Ron Paul rally in DC this past July, everything was running behind schedule, of course, and Baldwin graciously gave up 10 minutes of his allotted speaking time so that Paul could start on schedule and not miss a flight out of Washington.

It was thus all the more insulting for Paul to refuse to endorse Baldwin, even though their positions on most issues are almost identical, and then to top it off make him share the stage with Cynthia McKinney and offer up a ?just go out there and vote!? public service announcement. 

Secondly, as I?ve been discussing with a Takimag contributor over email, a perfectly good strategy would be for Paul to continue working within the Republican Party, but then be open about his willingness to leave the GOP if it nominates a particularly egregious candidate. Since Paul controls about 5-10% Republican voters, this would allow him to be an important wild card and have power within the party?and perhaps make things like ?McCain-Lieberman ?08? nigh impossible.

After yesterday?s performance, Paul has instead cemented his reputation for ambiguity and indecisiveness, and whatever was gained by holding a Republican counter-convention has now been negated.

Lastly, there’s the importance of Paul the man. Yes, it was his message that resonated with the grassroots, but the whole Paul persona represented for a lot of average voters, many of whom wouldn’t normally vote for a “libertarian” or alternative candidate, something quintessentially American?the avuncular Texan with a big family and traditional values. At the moment, there?s no other counter-establishment political figure I can think of who?s capable of raising millions in a single day and who could appeal to a wide variety of Americans.

This makes the fact that the ?Ron Paul moment? has been squandered all the more depressing.

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