In the following article from today’s Wall Street Journal, although I don’t agree with Strassel’s conclusion: “In the unlikely event he [Ron Paul] is able to scare the ultimate nominee into adopting his demands, the subsequent revolt from conservative voters will only hurt the party,” she clearly and honestly lays out Ron Paul’s strategy. No spin.
She obviously wants him to go away, and yet she tells the truth about him instead of attempting to demonize him, as O’ Really? and Beck have been doing. They each have a much bigger audience than Strassel. Together, they have huge influence. Their approach is dishonest. Strassel’s approach is honest journalism. –SB
[ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204616504577171092068727100.html?mod=ITP_opinion_0 ]
He knows he can’t win, but he wants to use his delegates to hold the Republican Party hostage to his views on national security and presidential power.
Ron Paul didn’t win Iowa. He didn’t win New Hampshire. He won’t win here on Saturday, and he won’t win Florida. The Texas congressman will not likely be the first choice for Republican nominee in a single U.S. state.
For most politicians, the act of losing—again and again—is a sign that the majority of voters prefer something else. Yet Mr. Paul isn’t going anywhere. He’s suggested he’ll be in this primary until the last votes in June. Which raises the question: What does Mr. Paul want?
The answer is coming clear, and it ought to have the Republican voters who are hosting Mr. Paul in this primary unhappy. The speculation up to now has been that the Texan might launch a third-party run, but it seems he’s keeping that in his back pocket. His real aim is to take the party hostage, threatening to withhold his followers’ votes unless the GOP agrees to adopt positions that are anathema to most conservatives. Call it minority rule.
The Paul team keeps insisting they are in this to win. But if that were the case, Mr. Paul would have spent more than a few days in this state, and he would then be concentrating on Florida. His team is instead throwing its money and efforts at states like Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota, which are less expensive markets and where caucus systems are more open to Mr. Paul’s grass-roots troops.
The spin is that these smaller states could allow Mr. Paul to steadily assemble the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination—even if he never wins a race. This is ludicrous. With most Republican primary and caucus states now awarding delegates on a proportional basis, and with Mr. Paul polling low in most delegate-rich states, he cannot hit that number.
The bullishness is designed to keep up turnout among Mr. Paul’s supporters and provide polite cover for the team’s real objective: running up delegate numbers. The goal is to collect enough delegates to make a statement at the Republican convention, where Mr. Paul will let it be known that the price of his support will be the adoption of his positions. “The more delegates I have, the more leverage I have,” said Mr. Paul, bluntly, this week. “We’ll go after delegates, and we have staying power.”
Mr. Paul isn’t losing this nomination because of his libertarian economic views, including his calls to slash spending. His criticism of big domestic government is what has earned him admiration from many Republicans. The GOP has long been the party of limited government, and were Mr. Paul to use his influence to push a nominee to focus more on that goal, many voters might appreciate the gesture.
Mr. Paul is losing this nomination because of his isolationist views on foreign policy and presidential power. As the voter boos at debates attest, his positions are decidedly not those of a Republican Party that has long believed in a robust projection of U.S. power.
And yet Paul advisers are now admitting this is the platform Mr. Paul is intent on foisting. The congressman wants to use his delegate power to pressure the party to reverse its support for, say, key sections of the Patriot Act (like roving wiretaps) since they offend Mr. Paul’s sensibilities. He also wants the GOP to end a president’s ability to take action against enemies without explicit congressional approval.
And he’s in no mood to negotiate. “I don’t know how they’re going to handle it,” said Mr. Paul. “Because we’re very precise on what we would like. . . . We want to change things.”
Republicans should not be expected to handle it well. There is a certain hubris to the Paul campaign, the belief that because Mr. Paul makes appeals to the Constitution, his views are pure and right—and anyone who disagrees is a member of the “establishment.”
It seems not to matter to Mr. Paul that the complex issues on which he pronounces have in fact long been the subject of vigorous debate, and that the GOP has come by its positions honestly. It seems also not to matter that exit polls show that much of Mr. Paul’s support comes from outside the Republican party, from left-leaning independents or even Democrats. Mr. Paul will see his particular views adopted by the GOP, or he will rebel.
Perhaps the better question is not what Mr. Paul wants, but what he hopes to accomplish. In the unlikely event he is able to scare the ultimate nominee into adopting his demands, the subsequent revolt from conservative voters will only hurt the party. If, as is more likely, the GOP nominee refuses to renounce the Patriot Act or presidential power, and Mr. Paul defects for an independent run, that too would hurt the party.
Either way, the end result is a re-election boost to Barack Obama, whose views are as far away from Mr. Paul’s as any candidate now on the stage. And it’s hard to imagine how Mr. Paul could want that.
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