March 07, 2008

Paul Campaign comes to an end … I think

With sadness I announce that Ron Paul has ended his presidential campaign ? well, I think he has ? maybe? Lew Rockwell, who usually knows all this stuff, senses that it might very well be over ? perhaps. Here?s the video?if any of you all out there can make heads or tails of it, I encourage you to comment. 


Throughout the Cold War, a whole industry of Kremlinology popped up in which PhD-ed analysts would interpret the significance of who was sitting next to the Great Leader at the latest Great Harvest festival in an attempt to understand the inner-workings of the opaque Soviet regime. I think we might need similar efforts in exegesis to understand what the hell the Paul campaign is actually doing. At any rate, the fact that major news organs are going with “it’s winding down” as a newsbite does not speak well for the campaign?s efforts in communications.     

So, it will all “soon wind down??but when? In the next few weeks? In November? why announce this? And then there?s the equally ambiguous, ?I will make every effort to visit any state where the enthusiasm for liberty exists.? OK?

After thoroughly confusing us about his presidential run, Paul goes on to thoroughly demoralization those who want to build a broader movement. 

Paul says, ?Let?s hope that one day we can look back and say that this campaign was a significant first step that signaled a change in direction for our country.” But then he offers little in the way of direction. Paul ?still likes the idea? of a major march on the DC mall, but then senses that this might be a logistical hassle for the campaign?another quasi-indication that he?s still running for president, sort of?and thus hopes that his supporters will arrange it.  Perhaps sometime in June would work?

Yes, the freedom movement should be a ?grassroots effort? and not a ?top-down, rigidly controlled operation.? But there?s a difference between inspiring the troops and passing the buck?Ron Paul is clearly doing the latter. 

The groups Paul says will be the new institutions of the broader movement, the Liberty PAC and the FREE Foundation, are both based in Lake Jackson, TX, Ron?s home district, and have actually already been around for years. FREE is run Mark Elam, the campaign?s ?media director? who, judging by the embarrassing back-to-the-?70s quality of the official videos, won?t exactly be remembered as the Leni Riefenstahl of the freedom movement. Elam seems to hold multiple posts under the Ron Paul umbrella?state coordinator for Texas, national media director. Why exactly Paul would entrust this man?who can?t put together a coherent YouTube video?with so much responsibility is beyond me.

The campaign succeeded in online fundraising and it was generally competently run by Lew Moore and Kent Synder?who were able to grab up some delegates in caucus states even if they never developed a real ground game in New Hampshire. But the Paul campaigns forays in traditional PR and communications cannot be considered anything but an absolute disaster. 

While the aesthetically challenged Elam was hired as media director, the campaign never brought in a team of professional speech-writers and opinion journalists to help craft talking points and a clear message that would have appealed to Republican voters. Thus when Paul was given the opportunity to directly confront John McCain in a nationally televised debate, he asked a tedious, soon-forgotten query about the president?s working group on financial markets. Only rarely did Paul speak of being the only ?real conservative? in the field, and more often allowed himself to be defined as a Daily-Kos cut-and-run liberal?sometimes even playing this up such as when he mentioned on ?Leno? that he has much in common with Kucinich and is well-liked among Obama supporters.

Only well after the great opportunity of New Hampshire had passed did the campaign hire a full-time blogger and writer, the rock-solid paleo-libertarian (and Taki?s contributor) Dan McCarthy. Most other campaigns had had bloggers and staff writers for over a year.

Should we be surprised that the end result of a year of slap-dash public relations and cronyism is a major public statement on the future of the campaign that no one really understands?

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