NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
October 09, 2007, 6:00 a.m.
Could Dr. Paul really surprise us all?
By Dave Kopel
This weekend, I attended and spoke at the Second Amendment Foundation’s annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, which was held at a convention center in northern Kentucky, a few miles away from Cincinnati. What I saw and heard there changed my mind about the viability of Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy; Paul is going to far outperform the expectations laid out for him.
First, for some background: twenty years ago, the Second Amendment Foundation (the second-largest pro-Second Amendment group in the U.S.) began sponsoring an annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, in conjunction with other pro-gun groups, including the NRA. For a full working day on Saturday, and half a day on Sunday, the conference features 10-15 minute speeches by writers, radio hosts, group leaders, and other pro-2d Amendment activists.’’
This year, the audience was the biggest ever. At the first conference I attended, in Dallas in 1988, Ron Paul gave a speech on behalf of his Libertarian Party presidential candidacy. I had liked Paul ever since I had met him in 1981, when Paul gave a thoughtful speech to a group of several dozen interns at which I was present (at the time, I was a congressional intern for Pat Schroeder). I voted for Paul in 1988, and in light of the performance of President George H. W. Bush, I’m glad I did.
Last Saturday night, at the buffet dinner and reception, the speaker was Ron Paul. The difference between Paul as a speaker in 1988 and in 2007 was startling. In 1988, he was perfectly competent. This time he was electrifying. In 1988, his campaign could do little more than leave some literature on a table. This time, he had volunteers to hand out literature, including (for the recipient audience) devastating material on Romney and Thompson. (Included among the materials distributed were Romney’s gubernatorial signing statement of the Massachusetts ban on so-called ““assault weapons,”“ and a copy of Sen. Russ Feingold’s letter to Senator Thompson after the passage of McCain-Feingold, with Feingold’s handwritten thanks, claiming that the bill never could have passed without Thompson’s help.)
Most impressive, however, was the large crowd of young people who showed up to hear Paul’s speech. They were enthused and energized, many of them sporting Ron Paul Revolution t-shirts. (The shirts are very clever, since they use “Revolution” to also say ““LOVE”,” which makes revolution seem a lot nicer.)
I did a lot of work in the Gary Hart campaign in 1983-84, while I was at the University of Michigan’s Law School. In terms of support from young volunteers, Paul is miles ahead of where Hart was before the Iowa caucus. After Hart finished second in Iowa, and then won New Hampshire, his campaign attracted a huge number of students, but not before. Paul, on the other hand, has what appears to be a staunch contingent of young supporters already.
The volunteers loved Paul’s speech, of course, and so did the large majority of the rest of the GRPC crowd. The GRPC activists are very wary of politicians whose pro-gun positions are a matter of convenience or calculation, rather than sincere dedication to the Constitution. The top tier of the Republican field obviously has a problem with candidates whose 2007 positions on guns or other issues are inconsistent with some of their past actions. You have to get down to Mike Huckabee before you can find a candidate who doesn’t have a consistency problem. (Huckabee’s record on the Second Amendment is perfect, and his statements clearly prove that he understands and believes in the issue, and isn’t just reciting platitudes and talking points.)
The people who have been looking for “the Constitution-in-exile movement” can stop searching for the non-existent secret headquarters in The Federalist Society’s offices. Instead, they can just drop in on a Ron Paul rally. Paul’s goal is to restore the Constitution to full strength. Ronald Reagan aimed to undo or temper some of aspects of the Great Society and the New Deal. Paul aims for much more, to demolish the corporate state that was built in the early 20th century and was entrenched by Woodrow Wilson during World War One.
His message contains nothing that is different from that which he’s been saying since he was first elected to Congress in 1976, or that which you can hear every four years from the Libertarian presidential candidate. However, this time the message comes with a serious national field operation. (Run by Dennis Fusaro, who formerly was state legislative director of Gun Owners of America, and knows a lot about how to leverage a group of dedicated and highly ideological activists.) With five million dollars raised in 3Q 2007, it appears that Paul’s message is catching on.
In the handful of campaigns that raised more money in the third quarter, some of the donors were engaging in “pay to play”—raising money from their business contacts in order to buy “access” and influence in case the candidate wins. One can be assured, however, that nobody is giving money to Ron Paul in order to buy 2009 “access” to the Executive Branch. They’re giving money because they want to eliminate about 90-percent of the federal government’s cash and regulatory boodle for rent-seekers.
Undoubtedly Paul is being helped by the Iraq issue, since he is the only Republican candidate who advocates withdrawal. But it would be a mistake to characterize his campaign as single-issue in the sense of George McGovern’s in 1972 or Tom Tancredo’s today. Some of Paul’s fans disagree with him on the Iraq question, but like him enough on other issues to support him overall. His supporters span a broad ideological spectrum, because they can find common ground in our Constitution’s rights and freedoms. How many other Republican candidates are getting Democrats to re-register as Republicans so they can participate in the Republican primaries?
The Republican Revolution of 1994 promised substantial shrinkage of a bloated federal government. The Republicans who were swept into Congress in 1946 had promised the same thing, and they delivered a great deal. The 1994 Republicans delivered much less, were out-maneuvered by President Clinton, and eventually became part of the problem.
But deep down there’s still a hunger among much of the Republican base for someone who will shrink the Leviathan, rather than merely attempt to use it for conservative ends.
Like the Ronald Reagan message (and unlike the Pat Buchanan message), the Ron Paul message is fundamentally positive. There may be some anger about the depredations of huge and aggressive government, but the campaign’s theme is “Hope for America” and its premise is that the American people are good people who can achieve the best for themselves, their families, their community, and their nation when the federal government gets out of the way and stops behaving like a helicopter mother.
As with Bill Richardson (my favorite Democratic candidate), I strongly disagree with Paul’s approach to the Iraq War. But I’m thrilled that a candidate with such a strong pro-constitution vision is doing so well.
Is Paul still a longshot? Yes, but so were George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, and Gary Hart. It is true that Republicans have, for over half a century, nominated whoever was leading in the first Gallup poll after Labor Day. But the past doesn’t control the future. Until 2000, for instance, no-one who had lost the New Hampshire primary had ever won the general election.
Polls show that about quarter of Americans are libertarians, in a general sense, so Paul has lots of room for growth. If he can keep raising enough money to get his message out, then with some strong finishes in the early states, he will start getting earned media. And beyond that, Ronald Reagan is among the many candidates who have proven that many voters will support someone even if they disagree with him on many issues, if they respect his integrity and find hope in his optimistic vision.
What are we to make of Ron Paul? …pretty much nothing and everything according to the pig farm press and the low roar of the voices outside the muffled doors of the ruling junta. Ron Paul is doing something that no one else, so far, has been effective at. Dr. Ron Paul has found the pulse of the country and the sleaze-balls who hijacked the ship of state don’t like it one bit.
He won the Michigan debate with numbers of 70 to 80% according to the CNBC poll; so they took the poll off the site. He wins everywhere and he has won everywhere and the money is pouring in. Dr. Paul, barring some- “wink, wink, nod, nod” event is going to be a real factor in the election. Ron Paul looks like he might win.
There are a very few other honest candidates; relatively honest candidates (in my opinion)- Kucinich, Gravel and possibly John Edwards; candidates who would certainly be better than anything we have had to work with for awhile.
Al Gore could have well been one of the best presidents America had but he got gang-raped and neutered by a nasty band of thugs who knew that the whole country was ripe for the same thing. It was an orgy of excess and abuse. They stole everything that wasn’t nailed down and then they sent out for crowbars.
John Kerry was a stalking horse who never intended to win. What they promised or threatened him with we will probably never know but we can take it prima facie that that is what happened.
So far the media has been content to not mention the truth about the numbers and just ignore Ron Paul. Other times they just make up their own numbers and the people nod their heads and migrate for the icebox. If people don’t hear about him then he probably isn’t there. The debate moderators are content to smirk into their sleeves and play chutes and ladders with the process.
The commentators don’t mention him and when they do it’s with a mocking, ‘he can’t win’ contempt. The entire mainstream media is all of a piece, owned and manipulated by a small cabal of neo-con imperialists, centered in Tel Aviv, London and Washington D.C.
At certain periods of history these same slithering reptiles appear again and again. They materialize in periods of confusion and uncertainty and they warp the mass understanding with a calculated series of events that herd the bi-pedal livestock along pre-determined routes. First they stoke their fear, then they grab their minds and their hearts and asses follow.
Whether it’s the sinking of a battleship, a Reichstag Fire or a 9/11- 7/7 series of false flag actions, they manage to facilitate the will of the bankers and fill the coffers with booty while the public is shaking their own.
You would think that people would catch on after awhile. For some reason this formula always works. It’s probably because most people just aren’t very bright. Those that are can be had through intimidation or a piece of the action.
Yes, this Ron Paul is a problem. He is catching the heart of the people and they are responding. Every public poll you see, whether it’s on MSNBC or CNN invariably shows Ron Paul with a massive volume of support. FoxNews says that a small handful of Ron Paul supporters are manipulating the data. A cursory look at the potential for this proves it is a lie and begs the question that if it is possible to do… then… why aren’t all of the other candidates doing the same thing?
There’s no difference between Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush. Her vote on the Lieberman/Kyl bill showed that. Her snuggling with Rupert Murdoch in the cloakroom tells us even more. I used to defend her. I used to hope for something from her. She sold her soul for the wrong kind of power. The same people that own Bush own her.
Obama is a callow poster boy for glamour over substance and the rest of the field doesn’t warrant an opinion.
I do not agree with Ron Paul on all of his positions. However, I am a utopian in a world that will never see it and my views on how things should be and what the right course ought to be are not important. I don’t represent the general views of the American people in any identifiable way. I’m not even an American anymore, if I ever was.
America seems to be blessed with a mysterious protection that brims forth in dark hours. All along the course of America’s short journey to the top of the heap she has been the beneficiary of some serendipity of the right people showing up at the right time. Even with all of the ugliness in her history and the continuous effort to control her for all the wrong reasons she seems to have always found her way forward. I begin to wonder if Ron Paul is not another expression of that.
I don’t know Ron Paul and I don’t trust politicians. Politicians can be expected to behave as long as the constitution is strong and a solid balance of power exists; as long as there is an informed public. I don’t know what Ron Paul plans to do about the pernicious influence of Israel upon American domestic and foreign policy. The biggest problem in the world today is Israel and unless they are brought to heel there is no telling where events may lead.
What I do know is that Ron Paul is most often captured telling the truth. Nothing is more undesirable for the present rise of fascism than truth-tellers. It is far more undesirable that they would seek the highest office in the land. Out of the blue here comes Ron Paul and there is no doubt that he has captured the popular imagination. It will be interesting to see what the criminals who are presently in control are intending to do about him.
Ron Paul appeals across the board to a very wide spectrum of the population. He has managed to position himself on every issue in a way that makes a strong connection with large blocks of voters. He is one scary guy and that’s a very good thing.
These times in which we are living appear like a drunk lurching down the sidewalk. There is no vision and there is no room for honest speech and action. The police are behaving like private contractors. The people have lost their own integrity and replaced it with empty rituals of obeisance to a corporation Jesus or they wander in the flesh-pits of instant gratification. Their leaders are hollow vessels filled with sound-bites and false promises. Ron Paul can only be a good thing by comparison.
Until now there has been nothing that has stoked the fires of possibility with the same power. Most of the people know that 9/11 didn’t happen the way they said it did but that hasn’t come to much. Most of the people want out of Iraq and know that lies led you into it but that hasn’t come to much. Most of the people know that Bush and his handlers are criminals but that hasn’t come to much. Most of the people voted in a new congress that had assured them they would make the necessary changes and that has come to nothing.
Nothing is going to happen until you have the sense to support and vote for honest men and women because nothing can change until there are people in a position to change things. Given what we’ve seen of the swine at the helm I would say that Ron Paul could be in a lot of danger. But maybe, as I said, this is another one of those times where America is the beneficiary of some mysterious force. If that is the case then, America- you have my congratulations. If not, you have my deepest sympathy from a distance.
In Iowa, Rep. Ron Paul Upstages Six Republican Presidential Hopefuls
WHEN TWO IOWA organizations, Iowans for Tax Relief (ITR) and the Iowa Christian Alliance (ICA), planned a June 30 Des Moines forum of presidential nomination candidates, they chose to exclude maverick Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The Republican congressman responded by renting the adjacent hall for his own campaign rally timed to begin as the ITR/ICA “Presidential Candidates Forum” ended. Paul—whose bold insistence in previous debates that terrorist attacks against the U.S. are “blowback” resulting from an interventionist U.S. foreign policy—has garnered considerable public support and rattled pro-war Republican leaders.
To the surprise and chagrin of ITR and ICA leaders and a line-up of six candidates for the Republican presidential nomination—former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback (KS), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA)—Paul’s rally drew twice the number of enthusiastic supporters.
During an interview immediately after the rally, this reporter asked Rep. Paul, an obstetrician, former USAF and Air National Guard flight surgeon, and 10-term congressman, what he would do about the crisis in the Holy Land. “I would treat it like the rest of the world,” Paul replied. “I’d want to be friends. I wouldn’t want to interfere. I wouldn’t send money. I would let people sort out their problems. And I think Israel would be better off. I think the Muslims would be better off.”
Asked if he would continue U.S. support for Israel, Paul said, “Not financially, because I think they lose on this, because we tell them when they can defend themselves and when they can’t. We stopped them when they wanted to talk to Syria, and I think they should. If the Arab League wants to offer them treaties, they ought to consider them. So, I think, long term, we undermine the support for Israel by talking over everything they do.…They’ve become dependent upon us. So, I would change that.”
He continued: “I think the general advice of minding our own business, staying out of it, being friends, trad[ing] with people, trying to encourage them to run free markets, that’s the best approach.”
A report in The Des Moines Sunday Register accurately described the Presidential Candidates Forum crowd as “subdued” and the crowd for the Paul rally as “raucous.”