(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – With the Nevada Caucus coming up, so does the question of Ron Paul.
The Texas Congressman has a tremendously loyal following, many of whom, apparently, have not read some of his foreign policy positions, and they are quite vocal.
It is a very fair criticism to point out, in the words of Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane, Paul has the foreign policy of Jeremiah Wright.
He may hate the Federal Reserve, but he’s quite comfortable telling us that America’s chickens are coming home to roost, just like the crazy preacher in the basement Barack Obama ran from in 2008 after attending his church for 20 years.
Paul isn’t actually a Republican. He’s much more of a libertarian.
Calling himself a Republican was just a clever marketing gimmick to get him elected to Congress and give himself a national forum.
He said, on the debate stage in Iowa, that we ought to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
I have had my disagreements with libertarians in the past. Folks, if you have a basic understanding of the Austrian and Chicago Schools of Economics, you are not automatically a conservative or a libertarian. Free market capitalism has to be leavened with some amount of common sense. And the reason for that is that what passes for capitalism today is rarely free from the heavy thumb of government on the scale.
When we were at war with Germany and Japan, a true free market capitalist would have had no problem doing business with AG Bayer or Mitsubishi. Obviously, that might be a harder sell to most Americans than Paul’s sexed up version of what a libertarian is.
But, make no mistake about it, Paul is not a nutjob. His concern about the national debt, the trade deficit and much of our overblown Federal government is pretty much in line with current conservative thinking on those subjects. Anybody who has watched Barack Obama trample the Constitution in his bailout of the auto industry and the big banks cannot find much to disagree with.
His foreign policy, however, virtually guarantees his inability to get the nomination, no matter how much sense his domestic concerns make.
And that spells a danger for the GOP.
Should what passes for leadership in the Grand Old Party (read that as being those people who operate from Washington, D.C.) go out of their way to offend Paul and his acolytes, a third party run is not out of the question.
Now he doesn’t have the kind of personal money Ross Perot had in 1992 and 1996.
But the advent of Internet-based fund raising coupled with Paul’s loyal following makes a Perot-style run possible.
The difference is that Perot’s forces drew equally from both sides of the aisle, despite the public pronouncements of people on the George H.W. Bush campaign committee. In 1992, Bush famously reneged on his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, and in 1996, Bob Dole ran a campaign which, frankly, could have used the Viagra he later went on to endorse. Perot didn’t cause either one to lose—they did so all by themselves.
Paul’s followers, however, are almost exclusively young GOP activists who have been frozen out by the D.C.-based “professional” Republicans.
They might be enough to cause Obama to be re-elected were Paul to make a third-party run.
So Nevada Republicans need to tread a careful course. The term “Paultard” has no place in the upcoming caucus, or ever, for that matter.
We need to have a thorough, spirited debate and let the caucuses select whatever candidate generates the most turnout. If you don’t want Ron Paul and you don’t go to your caucus, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
I don’t believe that Paul is the candidate who can beat Obama. And I don’t believe he represents the majority of Republicans with his foreign policy thinking. But I’m not willing to tell Ron Paul’s very enthusiastic supporters to go away in the process.
And neither should you.
Take today’s poll: Who, if anyone, should drop out of the Republican Presidential race?