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The puzzling treatment of Ron Paul

Ron Paul has been a thorn in the side of the Republican party for some time. His criticisms of the Republican war, budgets, civil liberties violations, and his other libertarian stands, and his call for a return to the gold standard all deviate from party orthodoxy. But it is inescapable that he has a devoted and passionate cadre of supporters, especially among the young, a demographic that the Republicans sorely need.

Given that he had a good run in the primaries and garnered a fair chuck of delegates, it was surprising to me how the Mitt Romney people went to great lengths to make sure that he was marginalized at the convention, not even allowing him to speak and making sure that his name was not placed in nomination. This alienated his delegates and other supporters in a big way. Why not be gracious about it and give him at least a speaking slot? After all, this is clearly his swan song, since he is retiring from Congress. He could have been given the Teddy Kennedy elder statesman treatment.

Michael Steele tells Jon Stewart that the party’s treatment of Paul was stupid. It is amazing how Steele, who said and did so many stupid things when he was head of the Republican party, now seems to be an astute and articulate analyst. What is it about being closely associated with the party that drains you of your good sense?

(This clip appeared on August 30, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself says

    It is amazing how Steele, who said and did so many stupid things when he was head of the Republican party, now seems to be an astute and articulate analyst.

    My guess is that Steele tried to be all things to all Republicans. He’s from the ever-shrinking moderate wing of the party but he tried to cozy up to the neo-cons and even the Tea Baggers. His heart wasn’t into it and he wasn’t paying attention to what he said. Now that he’s become a member of the punditocracy, he can say what he actually believes rather than being “politically correct” for the fanatical right.

  2. says

    Ron Paul’s treatment is not at all puzzling. Despite the fact that he’s got a lot of people conned into believing that he’s a libertarian, Paul believes what most of the more troglodytish Republicans believe, and party leadership knows that’s bad for messaging because it makes all the codewords look as empty as they are. The current focus of the GOP is also quite authoritarian, and the last thing they want is a wild card in the ranks.

  3. says

    The rich people running the republican party don’t want the ron pauls of the world in power, even if they could potentially win over democrats. Ron paul is useful for making the masses vote against their own interests, period. Rich people want a strong state so they can take money/favors from it- its how they get and stay rich. A democrat is better than ron paul for that, too. I’ve never been puzzled by the treatment of ron paul in light of that.

  4. smrnda says

    The problem with Paul on issues like civil liberties and imperialist war is his motivations. His only ideological commitments can be summed up as “Federal government = bad.” When he happens to be on the right side of an issue, it seems mostly by accident, and he seems adept at exploiting the fact that many of his supporters aren’t looking into what the consequences of policies would be if instated.

    I’m thinking that giving Paul the spotlight would detract from Romney since Paul isn’t likely to decide, now that he’s lost the nomination, to say good things about his former competitor Mitt isn’t much of a stage presence, so they want to keep the competition down.

    I think Ron Paul’s support among the young is a bit overrated. His fans are mostly white guys, and I don’t think he’s done very well in courting other demographics, and what’s more, he doesn’t seem to care.

  5. smrnda says

    I think your understanding of the role of the State in serving the wealthy is a bit off. Rich people buy our government, and make the state strong in protecting their interests and weak in protecting the masses. Ron Paul would just get rid of government, including its function for regulating businesses, protecting the environment, protecting workers, and facilitating access to education. So for the wealthy, they can exploit workers and poison the environment even cheaper, since they won’t have to buy the government in order to get away with it. To me, a Ron Paul presidency is a return to feudalism. As a woman with a disability, I would not benefit from a president who thinks that ADA should be overturned.

    And what’s with this capitalization of State? Is it some sort of political statement that the only form of oppression is what can come from a government? Ron Paul basically believes that the only function of government is protecting private property rights – I don’t think any stance would be more rich-friendly.

  6. Peter says

    The Republicans’ arbitrary treatment of Ron Paul reminds one that those in powerful positions are not bound by their own rules. Maybe they are afraid of allowing something that isn’t under their direct control. This reminds me of an interesting post from Yves Smith’s blog, “Naked Capitalism”:

    “The Fake Election: 10 Arguments the Republicans Aren’t Making”

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/09/10-arguments-the-republicans-arent-making-or-why-the-gop-doesnt-mind-losing-in-2012.html

    The author asserts that “The Republicans have a clear strategy to win, which they aren’t using” – they can go after Obama for:
    – Coddling tax cheats (Geithner and Daschle)
    – Betraying promises (promises to renegotiate NAFTA after he had already assured Canada he wouldn’t)
    – Fealty to Wall Street (admin economic officials from the banks)
    – FAIL on helping people (rather than the banks) with foreclosures
    – Skyrocketing inequality (rich getting richer; how have you been doing lately?
    – Corruption (pharma influence, revolving door (OMB official leaving to go to work for Citigroup), improper attempts to influence TARP regulator
    – Subsidizing offshoring of US jobs (ongoing negotiations for TPP)
    – Subversion of rule of law (failure to prosecute for torture, failure to prosecute bankers, refusal to take hard line re systemic mortgage fraud, attacks on whistleblowers, drone assassination attacks on US citizens)
    – Suppression of dissent (coordinated federal attacks on Occupy)
    – Ongoing war in Afghanistan

    In my opinion, Obama could win in a cakewalk if he would come out strongly in defense of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (no cuts over my dead body) in a way that people would believe. It’s too late for that, now, because you have to be consistent.

    Some of these points are stronger than others, but the author’s conclusion is, for the elite players (or their agents, the serious, aka well-funded, candidates for president), there are more important things than winning or losing elections. Namely, keeping populist policy choices off the agenda.

  7. Chiroptera says

    Is it some sort of political statement that the only form of oppression is what can come from a government?

    And only from the Federal government at that.

    He claims to be for equal rights for all and for a woman’s right for reproductive health care, but if I recall correctly, he is a very strong advocate for States’ rights even though it has been clearly shown that local governments haven’t been all that protective of people’s liberties.

  8. HairyChris says

    The problem with that list is that it can be bounced straight back to the Republicans. The Obama administration has simply followed the Bush one in most respects, and do you seriously think that the Republicans would want to limit this? They’d have to really not care about being called hypocritical.

  9. Chiroptera says

    They’d have to really not care about being called hypocritical.

    Heh. That’s what I thought, too, when I read that. Most of the people who don’t automatically vote Republican would just point at them and laugh.

    And those that do usually vote Republican, well, they either support most of the things on that list or support the lame-brained policies that have led to those things; if the Republicans would take the strategy, they’d end up alienating their own base!

  10. Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant) says

    Maybe because the last trace of accountability in their base won’t allow them to get away with campaigning against:

    1) What they did when they had the Presidency
    2) What they are doing as much as they can with control of Congress
    3) What they would do more of if they had the Presidency again

    …Nah.

  11. Chiroptera says

    …they can go after Obama for….

    Right. And in response I can see Obama replying: “Seriously? You are going to bring these things up as election issues?

    “Holy crap! There is a God and he does love me!”

  12. Peter says

    First, in campaign mode, the Republicans (and Democrats) don’t give a damn about being called hypocritical.

    Second, take a close look at the points on the list. They are not Republican points or Democratic points, but they are based on fact. Some of them will resonate with many people. For me, it’s “rule of law.” For those millions out there who are in danger of losing their homes, it’s fair treatment for them vs the bankers.

    Granted, the Republicans don’t really want to do anything to improve these points. They like things the way they are. But all they have to do is win the election, and to do that it’s enough to point out to weak Obama supporters that he isn’t standing up for them. It’s a game of only a few percent of voters. If they can convince a few percent of Obama supporters to stay home, they will win.

    The candidates wouldn’t even have to be tied personally to the attacks – just get one of the shadowy Super-Pac type groups to make the allegations, over and over. It would work fine. The disadvantage is, it brings up issues (e.g. rule of law) that would be inconvenient to the ruling class if people really started talking and caring about.

  13. says

    Ron Paul has been a thorn in the side of the Republican party for some time.

    Pure fucking bullshit. Ron Paul has been a consistent and steadfast supporter of the Republican platforms on abortion, “states’ rights,” deregulation of business, banking, and environmental protection, tax cuts, AGW denial, creationism, opposition to the Civil Rights Act, opposition to nearly every other Federal policy aimed at making anything better for non-filthy-rich Americans, and probably a lot more basic longstanding Republican ideas than I have time to remember now. “Thorn in the side?” Please — they made him chairman of a House subcommittee on monetary policy! He’s part of the Republican establishment.

    His criticisms of the Republican war, budgets, civil liberties violations, and his other libertarian stands…

    And where was Ron Paul when us liberals were making the same criticisms, and backing them up with action? He was demonizing liberals, calling us commies, and comparing us to Hitler long before anyone ever heard of Jonah Goldberg! His “criticisms” of Republicans don’t mean shit.

    Ron Paul had his chance to punish the Republicans for waging an unprovoked war and using fear of terrorism to erode our basic rights: he could have thrown his support to the Democrats in 2004. Given how close that election was, his defection would have taken down the Republicans, and forced the Democrats to pay close attention to his agenda. But that wasn’t what he really wanted — his first priority has always been attacking progressivism in all its forms and taking America back to a feudal era where only the rich had rights, a voice, or any organizational power to address their interests. He’s always been an extreme right-wing Republican, and his “criticisms” of his party are nothing but a fraud; and you embarrass yourself by not seeing through it. Do you really want to make yourself a sock-puppet of a sock-puppet?

  14. Mano Singham says

    Ron Paul is by no means an ally of progressives. In many, if not most issues, he has been a reliable Republican. But that does not mean that he was not a thorn in the Republican’s side on many other issues and that was what was intolerable for a party that demands total commitment to a set of specific policies.

  15. says

    Oh please. If he’s such an “intolerable” “thorn in the side,” then why do the Republicans allow him to have that safe gerrymandered House seat — not to mention that subcommittee chairmanship I mentioned? Why do the Republicans allow him to benefit from the safe media bubble-verse in which he thrives, and outside which he can’t even walk unassisted?

    The answer is simple and obvious: they know damn well he doesn’t mean a word of it, and won’t do anything to rock their boat. He’s not a real opposition figure; he’s a pretend opposition figure hand-picked by the people he pretends to oppose. I’ve known this since 1978, and no one who can read above the eighth-grade level has any excuse to be fooled by this doddering rentboy.

  16. Peter says

    Wow. All this heated commentary on Ron Paul, and how he is actually a closet garden-variety Republican tea-party hypocrite. Please, investigate your own prejudices before you comment.

    Now, I am by no means a Ron Paul fan – for one, he has never explained his racist newsletters of years ago; for another, he believes in a limited role for government and I believe the government’s job is to take care of its people, just like it says in the Constitution.

    But it’s important to recognize the tenacity and consistency of your ideological opponents and compliment them when they deserve it. How many others in Congress or the Senate are nearly as consistent as Ron Paul in his criticism of the imperial overreach of the U.S. government/military? How was he able to work with Alan Grayson to force a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve, much to the displeasure of mainstream members of both parties and the Obama administration? How many are willing to publicly speak against the drive to demonize Iran?

    Most members of both parties take the easy way, and follow the actions called by powerful interests. I think Ron Paul follows his own star, misguided though he may be at times.

  17. says

    Please, investigate your own prejudices before you comment.

    Please, prove us wrong before you call us “prejudiced.”

    But it’s important to recognize the tenacity and consistency of your ideological opponents and compliment them when they deserve it.

    Should we compliment the Nazis and Klansmen for their “tenacity” in clinging to the same stupid hatreds for so many generations? Besides, it’s easy to pretend you’re “tenacious” when your party’s establishment coddles you every step of the way and protects you from your most effective critics.

    How many others in Congress or the Senate are nearly as consistent as Ron Paul in his criticism of the imperial overreach of the U.S. government/military?

    He didn’t do shit to stop that overreach, or even slow it down, when his party was in power. See my comment about the 2004 election above.

    How was he able to work with Alan Grayson to force a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve…?

    What, exactly, did that audit accomplish?

    I think Ron Paul follows his own star, misguided though he may be at times.

    Any homeless lunatic can make the same boast. Being “consistent” is not a virtue when you’re consistently wrong. And in Ron Paul’s case, the boast is not even remotely true.

    Now, I am by no means a Ron Paul fan…

    No, you’re just a lazy dupe who doesn’t even care enough to see through an obvious scam.

  18. says

    He claims to be for equal rights for all and for a woman’s right for reproductive health care,

    He is strongly pro-life (he pledged at one point to only appoint pro-life administrators to HHS positions, so he’d even support use of executive powers at the federal level on this)

  19. Chiroptera says

    Huh. I must be confusing him with someone else.

    I guess Ron Paul really is your classic Libertarian — more concerned with tax breaks, deregulation, and States’ rights over any reasonable conception of liberty.

  20. says

    He was marginalized almost as soon as he took office. His first official act as RNC Chairman was to criticize Rush Limbaugh, and his second official act was to apologize for his first official act. He’s been irrelevant ever since.

  21. says

    …it was surprising to me how the Mitt Romney people went to great lengths to make sure that he was marginalized at the convention, not even allowing him to speak and making sure that his name was not placed in nomination.

    So what did Ron Paul do to protest this blatantly unfair treatment? Absolutely nothing. Why? Because he doesn’t really give a shit. Like any good rentboy, he knows when the roleplaying is supposed to stop, and he doesn’t actually expect his clients to respect him in the morning.

  22. Steven says

    Ron Paul should get the message that Mitt Romney and the Republicans do not like him. Romney wanted Ron Paul out of his hall as fast as possible. What else will it take. Paul has no other choice but to unite with Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party.

  23. M Groesbeck says

    Ron Paul is all about getting rid of those functions of government which help people in positions of disprivilege, not government generally. He opposes non-discrimination laws, union protections, and environmental regulations, but is all for the government acting as the on-call goon squad for employers, churches, and white men. He’s a classic Libertarian (vs. libertarian): the functions of the state are not to be eliminated, but simply devolved to a collection of proud land-owning capitalists. After all, it only counts as oppression of the entity making the decisions can be voted out!

  24. says

    And give up his subcommittee? Fuggedaboutit. Besides, if Romney didn’t like him, he’d have been gone as soon — and as completely — as Jon Huntsman. Remember him? THAT’S what happens to people the Republicans don’t like.

  25. mantistoboggan says

    Paul will not unite with the LP since he does not want to torpedo his son’s future with the GOP.

    That said, Ron will give up his subcommittee on 1/3/13. He’s not running for reelection much to your delight.

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