Posts Tagged ‘Ron Paul’
September 13th, 2012 at 8:08 pm
Mitch McConnell Hires Tea Party Strategist

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell made a very public peace with Rand Paul and Kentucky’s Tea Party movement by hiring Jesse Benton to head his reelection campaign in 2014.

Previously, Benton steered Rand Paul into Kentucky’s other U.S. Senate seat by defeating an establishment candidate handpicked by McConnell.  This cycle Benton ran Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.

With $6 million already in the bank for an election two years away, McConnell’s hiring of Benton likely shuts the door to the kind of Tea Party conservative primary challenge faced by other long-serving Republicans.

May 3rd, 2012 at 8:16 pm
More Paul than Romney Delegates at GOP Convention?

On Monday, I shared a story about how Ron Paul’s fervent supporters are outmaneuvering the Romney campaign in the state-by-state process of selecting delegates to the GOP’s nominating convention in Tampa, FL.

Here’s more evidence from the Washington Times:

Exploiting party rules, loyalists for the libertarian congressman from Texas in recent days have engineered post-primary organizing coups in states such as Louisiana and Alaska, confirming what party regulars say would be an effort to grab an outsized role in the convention and the party’s platform deliberations.

In Massachusetts, the state where Mr. Romney served as governor, Paul loyalists over the weekend helped block more than half of Mr. Romney’s preferred nominees from being named delegates at state party caucuses — even though Mr. Romney won his home state’s primary with 72 percent of the vote.

And from the Las Vegas Sun:

In a letter delivered Wednesday to GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, the RNC’s chief counsel said if Ron Paul delegates are allowed to take too many slots for the national convention, Nevada’s entire contingent may not be seated in Tampa.

John R. Phillippe Jr. said that while his letter is not binding, “I believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention.”

Clearly, the RNC fears that mischief at the Sparks convention this weekend could result in Ron Paul delegates taking Mitt Romney slots and then not abiding by GOP rules to vote for the presumptive nominee on the first ballot in Tampa. So they are trying to force McDonald to ensure that actual Romney delegates fill 20 of the 28 national convention slots, thus removing any mystery of who they will vote for.

H/T: Teagan Goddard’s Political Wire

April 30th, 2012 at 5:37 pm
GOP Convention: Ron Paul Revolution?

The Daily Caller explains the (tortured) delegate math that is giving GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul – yes, he’s still running – control of state delegations to the national convention; and with them, the ability to impact Mitt Romney’s march to the nomination.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul claimed another come-from-behind caucus victory this weekend, announcing that approximately 74 percent of the delegates to Louisiana’s state GOP convention will be Paul supporters.

Louisiana has a unique system of selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention. Twenty delegates are selected based on the results of the state’s March 24 primary and another 26 delegates are based on the outcome of the state’s caucus process.

If you’re confused it’s probably because you remember that Rick Santorum won 49 percent of the Louisiana primary vote back in February.

And that’s not the only Santorum victory that ultimately went to Paul:

Earlier this month, Paul won 20 of 24 delegates awarded by Minnesota congressional district conventions. Paul had received a significant 27 percent of the vote in the state’s Feb. 7 caucuses, but Santorum had won nearly every county in a major blowout.

According to The DC, Paul is also on the verge of winning a majority of the GOP’s delegates from Iowa, even though he came in third behind Mitt Romney and Santorum in the Hawkeye State.

Moreover, there are as many as six other states where Paul is poised to control a majority of delegates even though he didn’t win a majority of the primary votes cast in any of them.

If you, like me and perhaps Mitt Romney’s crew, considered Paul’s campaign an afterthought, it may be time to move the Veepstakes chatter to the backburner and ask a much more interesting question – What, exactly, does Mr. Paul want in exchange for his endorsement at the GOP’s Tampa convention?

March 19th, 2012 at 5:34 pm
Louisiana’s Big Contest… in April

On Saturday, Rick Santorum is favored to win, albeit narrowly, in the Louisiana primary. But the actual delegate allocation from Louisiana could range from a wide Santorum win to, oddly enough, a significant victory for Ron Paul who barely is even bothering to campaign in the primary.

How could this be?

Well, here’s how it works: The primary will be determinative for only 20 of Louisiana’s 46 delegates. Those 20 will be allocated in accord with the proportion of the vote won by each presidential candidate — assuming that a candidate gets at least 25 percent of the vote. ANY votes for all candidates who do not cross that 25 percent threshold will be added together and their proportion of the whole will be allocated as UNCOMMITTED delegates. Three other officially uncommitted delegates will be the state’s members of the Republican National Committee.’

All other delegates, all 23 of them, will be chosen at a state convention not held until June 2. Moreover, the delegates to that state convention will not be chosen in any way, shape or form as a result of the primary this Saturday. Instead, they will be chosen at caucuses to be held throughout the state on April 28. So it is perfectly feasible, for instance, for Ron Paul to get less then 10% of the vote on Saturday, and thus to win not a single one of the 20 delegates chosen this week, but still to win the vast majority of the other 23 delegates on June 2.

Word on the ground is that Paul is extremely well organized for the caucuses. It might be that the only way to defeat him is for the Santorum and Gingrich organizations to join forces, at least in tactical alliances if not formally, at each of the caucuses.

But here’s the deal: If Santorum wins a narrow victory on Saturday and gains, say, 6 delegates to 5 each for Gingrich and Romney… but Gingrich later drops out and his Louisiana campaign organization folds into Santorum’s, then the caucus rules (which are too complicated to explain here) are such that Santorum could come close to sweeping the other 23 delegates on June 2. (Obviously, the same would be true if Gingrich and Romney joined forces, but that isn’t going to happen.)

This is another example of how Gingrich’s presence in the race directly hurts Santorum. Everybody has been calling Louisiana a “proportional allocation state,” giving the impression that even a Santorum popular vote win would not do much to bolster his overall national delegate position. But because slim majorities or even pluralities can have outsized influence in caucuses, the truth is that half of all the Louisiana delegates are very much up for grabs and could swing very strongly in one direction or another. Gingrich’s continued presence in the race could swing almost all of those 23 to Paul; his withdrawal from the race would swing them mostly to Santorum. And since Paul is thought, in the long run, to be in far more friendly to Romney, those delegates in the end would probably be likely to move Romney’s way in a contested convention.

It’s all highly convoluted. But the arithmetic is undeniable: Gingrich’s presence hurts Santorum. This is not to say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a straight analysis of how the rules combined with the arithmetic combined with the situation on the ground are likely to play out.

February 7th, 2012 at 5:21 pm
“The New Debate in the Republican Party Needs to be Between Conservatives and Libertarians”
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So says South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint in a wonderful new interview with Reason TV. And on that point he’s precisely right. While the farthest reaches of Ron Paul’s political philosophy (an isolationist foreign policy, drug legalization, etc.) are both ideologically imprudent and political non-starters, the Texas congressman has ignited an important discussion that has the potential to bring the GOP back to its first principles of limited government.

Unlike Paul, however, DeMint is not content to be a legislative voice in the wilderness. His work with the Senate Conservatives Fund has been essential in bringing Tea Party principles to Congress’s upper chamber. Have a look at the video and be thankful that we still have a few more years of service forthcoming from this principled conservative leader.

January 17th, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Monday Night’s Debate

Troy, Ashton, Tim, Renee, Jeff…. any replies to this would be welcome. Anyway, here’s my take on last night’s debate, and the state of the race, from as neutral an analytical perspective as possible:

HUGE LOSER: Ron Paul finally marginalized himself irretrievably, especially in a pro-military state like South Carolina, with his lengthy diatribes basically positing that the Taliban weren’t all that bad and that bin Laden deserved a trial, or something like that. Plus, he wandered and meandered and sounded more shrill than usual. A horrible performance for him.

LOSER: Mitt Romney had his worst debate performance by far. He started okay and ended okay, both times in exchanges mainly with Gingrich, over the roles and behavior of Super PACs. But in between he was flustered, off his game, a bit stumbling, nervous-looking — and completely bumfuddled by Rick Santorum’s cross-examination about felon voting rights. Just when he had a chance to put the race away for good, he let others back in the game.

SLIGHTLY HELPED HIMSELF: Rick Perry has made himself almost irrelevant by his bad earlier debates and weak finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Last night, though, he was on his game, even if his substance was, well, not really substantial. Michelle Bachmann would have blown him out the door for saying we should completely eliminate foreign aid, because of course some of that aid actually “buys” for us essential things like cooperation on intelligence, plus military bases, etcetera. What he said about Turkey being virtually a terrorist state was absurdly overstated. But he played very well to whatever purely populist voting bloc is out there, and he did a great job blasting the Obama administration on its “war” on South Carolina over voter ID laws. Overall, if Perry had done this well in the first 10 debates, he might not be dominating, but he would still be very much in the mix in the polls.

BRAVURA LEMONADE-MAKING FROM LEMONS: Rick Santorum only got one question that actually played into his “wheelhouse,” as the expression goes. Almost every time he was given a chance to talk, it was on a subject that wouldn’t ordinarily play well for him. For that reason, he probably only helped himself a little more than he was hurt last night — but if he had not had his “A” game, it could have been a disaster. For instance, he was pressed on his truly wrongheaded vote years ago to automatically restore voting privileges (in federal elections only) to felons once they have fully satisfied all parole and probation requirements. On the merits, I think this is a horrible position. Most conservatives agree. Nothing should be automatic for some former felony inmates; full privileges should come only after careful review by a board convened for that purpose. On the other hand, Santorum always has had this subtext thing going of the Catholic social-gospel, people-can-be-redeemed-and-forgiven variety. It speaks well of him as a human being. This long-ago vote was his way of saying, hey, if you’ve fully paid your legal debt to society, you again become a full member of the society.

Conservatives don’t agree. Conservatives think some crimes are virtually unforgivable, and, moreover, that if they are to be forgiven, it should not be automatic, just by jumping through enough hoops with the passage of time. The good news is that such a proposal will never be politically popular enough to pass Congress, so people inclined toward Santorum but who don’t like this old vote of his shouldn’t worry about it being a serious effort.

But I digress. Somehow, Santorum actually won, big, in his exchange on the issue with Romney. Santorum correctly and effectively blasted the Romney super-PAC for falsely making it appear as if Santorum favors allowing current inmates to vote. Then he hit Romney from the right again (and from the standpoint of whether Romney is either courageous enough or competent enough) because Romney did nothing even to attempt to change Massachusetts law that allows felons to vote even before completing parole and probation. In short, Santorum turned a negative into a slight political positive overall, if only because the bigger impression wasn’t that he is a “squish” on felons, but that he is more honest, more thoughtful, more fair, and tougher than Mitt Romney. Santorum also gave really solid answers on gun rights and on the connection between marriage (or its lack) and poverty. If the debate had been a two-man affair between him and Romney, Santorum would have scored an enormous victory.

BIG WINNER, BUT WITH AN ASTERISK: Newt Gingrich’s performance was a perfect reverse-image of Romney’s. Whereas Romney did pretty well on the opening and closing questions but stumbled in the middle, Gingrich started and ended poorly but in the middle had what most pundits are calling the single best debate performance of this endless nomination season. I wonder, though, if it was a vote-winning performance. In an earlier debate, for instance, my wife astutely said that with detailed answers Rick Santorum was “winning minds without winning votes” (or as I put it, impressing without “connecting” with voters); here, I think Gingrich won visceral reactions without changing minds. Here’s the thing: by now, everybody expects some excellent debate moments from Gingrich. People know he can hit tee balls out of the park. But is that still enough to gain their allegiance? People have seen him all over the map on so many issues, and have seen him so desperate and mean about Bain and other anti-Romney jeremiads, that now they want to see something from him that touches their hearts, not just their viscera, and that tells them he can actually be a steady enough performer (not just an occasionally exciting or explosive one) in a full general-election campaign.

In that light, it struck me that Gingrich really didn’t look good, particularly at the beginning of the debate. He looked a bit pale; he looked grim; he looked particularly fat of body but oddly thin of face; and he didn’t look friendly. Indeed, I think he looked, overall, unappealing, unhealthy, and unlikeable. And even when he was destroying the premised of Juan Williams’ questions, there was a weirdly off-putting edge to him. He was too “hot” (as opposed to figuratively “cool”) for TV, in both tone and visage. It was almost as if he was making one last hurrah before another bomb, a big one, drops on him. It was as if he was in a particularly foul mood because he knows his goose is cooked, for some reason or another.

So, while I concur that Gingrich absolutely dominated the middle portions of debate, with effective and popular positions and explanations, I’m not sure if it will translate into major new poll support. Just a hunch. But it was a hell of a show.

January 10th, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Why Is Romney Seen as Electable?

Just by way of analysis, not meaning to be pro- or anti-Romney’s candidacy — but can anybody give me even a halfway convincing explanation for why the commentariat thinks that Mitt Romney is so much more electable than some of the other GOP candidates? (And no, polls don’t count: Polls aren’t actual analysis, and head-to-head polls for next fall mean absolutely nothing at this stage of a race other than a rough sense of name ID. If they did, Jimmy Carter would have beaten Ronald Reagan by 32 points.)

Usually, at this level, past performance is as good an indicator as anything else. Well, Romney’s past electoral performance is decidely weak. In 1994, as Rick Santorum was pulling an upset to win a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Romney was getting crushed by Ted Kennedy — in a race where Kennedy actually was seen, even three weeks out, to be far more vulnerable than usual, because the tawdriness of his nephew’s late-1991 rape trial (and his role therein) combined with the overall tawdriness of his long-running behavior, combined with a nationwide revolt against Democrats, made Massachusetts voters unusually open (according to all sorts of polls and focus groups) to replacing him. But, again, Romney got absolutely crushed.

In 2002, Romney won the governorship; in 2006, he chickened out of running for re-election; and in 2008, despite all sorts of financial advantages, he found a way to lose the Republican nomination fairly decisively to a seriously underfunded John McCain, losing a long string of individual primaries in the process.

So, overall, his electoral record is 1-2 — or, if you count each state in 2008 as a separate contest, which might not be exactly fair, he’s something like 2-17.

Add last week’s Iowa result, where he underperformed again (and earned exactly six FEWER votes than he earned in 2008), and you have a candidate who just doesn’t seen to be able to deliver on Election Day.

By contrast, Rick Perry famously has never lost an election (but then again, he hasn’t exactly had as tough a row to hoe in Republican-friendly Texas, and barely won re-election for governor in 2006 over an underfunded Democrat). Rick Santorum, running every single time in battles that were uphill or (once) no better than 50-50 shots (i.e. in districts or a state that was not friendly to Republicans), has won four out of five elections, and outperformed other Republicans in his state in almost every case in doing so. (For instance, in 2000 he won PA by four points while GW Bush was losing it by 5; in 2006, even in losing, he lost by less than the GOP candidate for governor that year did.)

Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Ron Paul aren’t really easy to categorize, because they either come for slam-dunk Republican states (Huntsman) or they haven’t run in anything bigger than a congressional district (Gingrich, although as a national proxy candidate he helped Dole lose in 1996 and the GOP lose House seats in 1998), or their candidacies are so sui generis (Paul) and their electoral history so odd (Paul again, running for president on the Libertarian ticket once) that it makes comparisons difficult. But it’s clear that none of those three has shown any reason for anybody to believe they can compete very well on a national stage, and Perry’s performance so far this year indicates he perhaps wasn’t prepared for national issues.

Which leaves, again, Santorum, having won four of five elections and overperformed so far on the presidential stage, and Romney, having so far lost two of three elections and badly underperformed on the presidential stage. So it makes no sense at all to assume that Romney is more electable in the fall against Barack Obama’s $800 million.

December 28th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
Romney Win in Iowa Would Be a Surprise Too

At CFIF, we’ve spent some time arguing that Rick Santorum could produce a surprise win in next week’s Iowa caucuses.  Ron Paul continues to top the leader board in the Hawkeye State, rising to a level of support that most consider surprising.  But with news that a Super PAC is switching its support from Michele Bachmann to Mitt Romney, and spending almost $500,000 on an ad-buy for him, it looks increasingly likely that the former Massachusetts governor could be the biggest surprise winner in Iowa.  Why?  Because his campaign took a decidedly hands-off approach to Iowa for much of 2011, preferring to focus its efforts – and locate its headquarters – in New Hampshire.  Now, Romney is peaking at just the right moment.

It’s probably true that there are really three GOP contests in Iowa right now.  Ron Paul’s libertarian caucus, the establishment caucus between Newt Gingrich and Romney, and the conservative caucus between Santorum, Bachmann, and Rick Perry.  Unless Paul wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s likely done after next week’s voting.  (But what if he did win both?)  A Romney win in Iowa probably knocks out Gingrich, with whomever survives to win the conservative caucus having an uphill climb against a strengthened Romney.

Because of his record and light campaigning in the state, Romney wasn’t supposed to win Iowa.  If he does, his march to the nomination may be a short one.

December 1st, 2011 at 9:47 pm
Will Romney Outsource Attacks on Gingrich?
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A piece in Politico today looks at the efforts by Mitt Romney’s campaign team to ward off the growing challenge from the Newt Gingrich boomlet. While the author, Reid J. Epstein, spends a fair amount of time examining the lines of attack that are being planned for both Romney and his surrogates, one aspect of their strategy is undersold in the piece. Epstein writes of the Romney campaign:

… They’re also ready to sit back and wait for the other candidates who are more dependent on strong showings in Iowa to do the dirty work.

Cue all-purpose gadfly Ron Paul. Paul is out with a devastating new anti-Gingrich ad that plays right into Romney’s hands. In fact, the ad — with its focus on questioning Newt’s conservative credentials — plays a lot better coming from the undiluted Paul than the notoriously squishy Romney. The reality, though, is that it probably does much more to help the latter than the former. See for yourself:


October 18th, 2011 at 1:15 am
Is Ron Paul Framing the Election?

One way to think of a presidential campaign is as a nationally followed negotiation.  Each political party provides players who in turn generate ideas for public consumption.  Some proposals change the national consensus (e.g. Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts), while others fall flat (Walter Mondale’s “I will raise your taxes” pledge). 

If we look at what leading Republicans have proposed this cycle, it’s an impressive range of serious fiscal ideas.  Paul Ryan has his “Path to Prosperity” budget, Rick Santorum his tax cuts. Mitt Romney has 59 points to get America working, and Herman Cain has “9-9-9”.  Now, Ron Paul says we should cut $1 trillion dollars by eliminating entire federal cabinet departments and going back to 2006 funding levels for those that survive. 

My suspicion is that Paul’s plan will get the most criticism because it is the most radical.  But might it also be the most helpful in a sense, since it probably represents the least government that any major Republican will put his or her name to this year?  And if that’s the case, then isn’t Paul doing the electorate a favor by clearly articulating what the most radical version of reform would look like so voters can weigh the differences fully? 

If Quin, Tim, or Troy has anything to add, I’d like to read it.  Is Ron Paul’s plan bold, crazy, or something in between?

October 17th, 2011 at 9:29 pm
Ron Paul is Making Sense
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I’ve posted before on the difficulty that Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy presents: while Paul is utterly at sea on foreign policy issues and too philosophically pure to countenance the type of compromise that real political progress requires, his libertarian beliefs also make him one of the best candidates in the Republican race on economic issues. Thankfully, Paul has no hope of being the nominee, but let’s hope that his “Restore America” economic plan, unveiled earlier today, has an influence on the GOP field. This is solid stuff, as the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog reports:

Mr. Paul does get specific when he calls for a 10% reduction in the federal work force, while pledging to limit his presidential salary to $39,336, which his campaign says is “approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.”  The current pay rate for commander in chief is $400,000 a year.

The Paul plan would also lower the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%, though it is silent on personal income tax rates, which Mr. Paul would like to abolish. The congressman would end taxes on personal savings and extend “all Bush tax cuts…”

While promising to cut $1 trillion in spending during his first year, Mr. Paul would eliminate the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, Interior and Housing and Urban Development…

Mr. Paul would also push for the repeal of the new health-care law, last year’s Wall Street regulations law and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the 2002 corporate governance law passed in response to a number of corporate scandals, including Enron.

What’s most remarkable is that Paul — long considered an ideological outlier — is now in line with the majority of the Republican establishment (the movement was on their end, not his). With the exception of his call to abolish the federal income tax and a few of his cabinet department eliminations, these are all priorities that a Republican congress could support coming from a GOP president. That man won’t be Ron Paul … but let’s hope he’s read his plan.

October 5th, 2011 at 6:44 pm
Ron Paul: Wrong on al-Awlaki
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The other candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination could learn a lot from Texas Congressman Ron Paul. During his 2008 presidential bid, Paul was essentially Tea Party before Tea Party was cool, delivering a principled defense of the constitution and limits on federal power. That’s all for the good, and it seems to be a growing sentiment throughout the Republican base.

Where Paul is deeply problematic, however, is in his fundamentally flawed understanding of foreign policy. As the Daily Caller reports today, Paul’s latest misstep is his condemnation of President Obama for allowing the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric who was one of the leading public faces of Al Qaeda:

Speaking to a group of reporters at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire on Friday, Rep. Paul said that American leaders need to think hard about “assassinating American citizens without charges.”

“al-Awlaki was born here,” said Paul. “He is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, my friend and podcast partner (and frequent guest on “Your Turn”) John Yoo sets Paul and his sympathists to rights:

Today’s critics wish to return the United States to the pre-9/11 world of fighting terrorism only with the criminal justice system. Worse yet, they get the rights of a nation at war terribly wrong. Awlaki’s killing in no way violates the prohibition on assassination, first declared by executive order during the Ford administration. As American government officials have long concluded, assassination is an act of murder for political purposes. Killing Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy is assassination. Shooting an enemy soldier in wartime is not. In World War II, the United States did not carry out an assassination when it sent long-range fighters to shoot down an air transport carrying the Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

American citizens who join the enemy do not enjoy a roving legal force-field that immunizes them from military reprisal.

Lest this be oversimplified to a libertarian vs. neoconservative argument (a caricature of both Congressmal Paul and Professor Yoo), I should note that Richard Epstein — perhaps the leading libertarian legal scholar in the country — happens to agree with John Yoo. If you’re interested in hearing more, you can hear professors Epstein and Yoo hash this issue out on the newest episode of Ricochet’s Law Talk Podcast (hosted by yours truly and available by subscription).

July 11th, 2011 at 9:18 pm
Tea Party Presidential Candidates “On the Issues”

The Houston Chronicle (scroll to the bottom) has a helpful side-by-side chart comparing the positions of declared and presumptive GOP presidential candidates, all of whom lean in one way or another toward the Tea Party.  The line-up includes Texas Governor Rick Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and businessman Herman Cain.

Some highlights:

  • AZ Immigration Law: Bachmann and Cain support it; Paul has “some reservations,” and Perry thinks it “would not be the right direction for Texas”
  • Middle East Foreign Policy: Bachmann and Perry support Israel; Paul wants troop withdrawals from the Middle East; Cain is unequivocal: “You mess with Israel, you’re messing with the U.S.A.”
  • Economy: Bachmann, Perry and Cain all support tax cuts; Paul wants to go even farther: abolish the Federal Reserve and reestablish the gold standard

Here’s hoping for a substantive debate featuring all these candidates and their ideas.  America needs it.

June 27th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
Perry, Paul, and Bachmann: The Tea Party Trinity

The New York Times reports of a “completely unscientific” voice-vote poll of about 100 Tea Party activists gathering at the D.C. offices of FreedomWorks.  The top vote getter for president was Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who announced her (formal) candidacy today.  Texas Republicans Governor Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul were close seconds.

Each of the three has a unique mix of conservatism to attract Tea Party and larger GOP support.  All agree on fundamental themes like American Exceptionalism, low taxes, the free market, and traditional values.  Each differs, though, in the formula for achieving those goals.

That is a good thing.  Conservatives can – and should – differ about means, but not ends.  Goals are a matter of principle.  How we get there should be the subject of vigorous debate.

The reporters conducting their poll may think the results were “completely unscientific,” but they needn’t worry.  The boos for Mitt Romney (R-MA) and Jon Huntsman (R-UT), and the indifference toward Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), show that the media’s favorites are in real trouble with the people who will decide the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

April 28th, 2011 at 4:37 pm
Rubio, Rand Paul: Two Sides of the Tea Party Coin

Politico has a revealing article on the different approaches of Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY).  Each claims credibility with the Tea Party movement that propelled them past establishment candidates in their respective primaries.

Rubio is developing a reputation as a quiet Capitol Hill operator who still votes his fiscal conservatism.  (As evidenced by his opposition to the 2011 budget bill negotiated by GOP leadership.)

Paul is taking his father Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) outsider approach to the insular Senate.  Much like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul is scoring points for taking uncompromising stands on spending, even if it angers the Republican leadership.

Both approaches are needed; especially if the Age of Obama stretches into a second term.

January 10th, 2011 at 1:48 pm
Ralph Nader Cheering the Tea Party?

Believe it.  In an op-ed for BusinessWeek, the scourge of concentrated wealth and power sees a lot to love in the new, Tea Party-infused legislators walking around Capitol Hill.  Specifically, Nader isolates five issues that could bring the movement’s limited government mantra into conflict with establishment Republicans.

(1)   Ron Paul’s fight to curb the power of the Federal Reserve

(2)   Heightened criticism for corporate welfare programs (e.g. everything from ethanol subsidies for biofuel to “green” initiatives designed to get federal tax dollars)

(3)   Trimming the military budget (Apparently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates already got the memo; sort of)

(4)   Renewal and expansion of the World Trade Organization, NAFTA, etc.

(5)   Whistleblower protection for bureaucrats and corporate workers

The limited government foundations of the Tea Party movement will make predicting voting outcomes this session iffier than when Republicans could be assumed to oppose any Democrat plan.  If necessary, we’ll see how many of the new Constitutionalists in Congress are ready to buck convention and vote their principles instead of their party.

November 5th, 2010 at 6:54 pm
Ron Paul & Paul Ryan, Overseeing the Fed & Budget Respectively?

If getting a House chairmanship were as automatic as moving from ranking member of the minority to chairman of the majority, then Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be resting easy today.  Rep. Paul is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee with oversight responsibility of the Federal Reserve, a role the Austrian economist would relish.  For his part, Rep. Ryan is the ranking Republican on the powerful Budget Committee, the body empowered to make significant changes in public policy through the budget writing process.

Both men have reason to doubt an unchallenged assent to power because both are on record with radical plans to shrink the size of government.  Paul is sure to refile legislation to audit the Fed, a proposition that may gain popularity with the Fed’s announcement to add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt.  For his part, Ryan’s Roadmap to America’s Future is a comprehensive vehicle for delivering sustainable government programs that leave room for entrepreneurship and growth.

Voters had their say on Tuesday.  Now, it’s time to see how many fiscal conservatives in the newly enlarged GOP caucus are willing to elevate two of the most ardent foes of big government to consequential leadership positions.

February 22nd, 2010 at 12:33 pm
Analyzing Ron Paul’s CPAC Straw Poll Win

According to CNN, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) winning the CPAC presidential straw poll was a surprise. Since CNN had no presence at CPAC, it probably did catch producers at the Clinton News Network off guard. But for anyone who actually attended the three day event it was anything but. By several estimates, one in five attendees were twentysomething libertarian-leaning enthusiasts. Almost all of these supported Paul, and many could be seen passing out push-cards for his group, Campaign for Liberty. To a person, they were by far the most excited, most hopeful CPAC participants, and accounted for most of the energetic turnaround from last year’s funeral-like atmosphere.

Undoubtedly, most of these would also represent the low-tax, off-my-back Tea Party movement. However, it is striking to consider that the most dynamic speakers at CPAC – J.C. Watts, Newt Gingrich, and Glenn Beck – all took turns focusing on the cultural roots of the current political crisis. Watts claimed that it is impossible to understand America without first understanding the importance of God. Gingrich reminded listeners that most of the policy problems in Washington would not be fully solved until everyday Americans took more responsibility for their choices. And Beck passionately emphasized the growing lack of hard work as the primary impediment to expanding wealth and success. While each message isn’t necessarily at odds with the individualist outlook espoused by Paul’s libertarian supporters, focusing on cultural decline implies both a hierarchy of values and the need for a communal response.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see whether the libertarian argument for less government can be positively fused with the conservative push for a stronger, more united civil society. If so, the Right could be on its way to establishing not just a political majority this year; it could also create a cultural one too.

December 8th, 2009 at 12:26 am
Creating a Party of Freedom
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A new Rasmussen Reports poll out today shows that if the Tea Party movement was an organized political party it would poll second nationally (at 23%, 13 points behind the Democrats).  Many reports on the numbers play up the growing influence of this grassroots force on the right, but that may miss the bigger point: Republicans came in third in the poll, with only 18% supporting the GOP.

Read those numbers closely; with Republicans and Tea Partiers divided, Democrats win (a lesson learned in the congressional race in the New York 23rd).  Thus, if the right hopes to regain political traction it’s going to have to create a fusionist project between the mainstream GOP and the “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” Tea Party movement.

A possible prescription for this kind of Republican renaissance improbably shows up this week’s edition of Newsweek, courtesy of Howard Fineman, whose columns usually tend toward EZ-Bake liberalism.  However, in a piece entitled “Is There a Doctor in the House?”, Fineman perceptively notes that the GOP could do a lot worse than straightening its spine through Ron Paul’s example:

… The GOP needs to study Ron Paul, and learn. No one has better captured the sense of Main Street outrage over secret insider deals and Wall Street bonuses. No one has been more consistent about sticking to core conservative values—including the one that says the government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in. If the GOP is going to appeal to independent voters, it has to confront its own corporate allies. “Republicans need to find a populist edge again,” says Craig Shirley, the author of Rendezvous With Destiny, a new account of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. “Reagan spoke to the guy who thought he was being screwed by big business, by big government, by the big media.” The good doctor, of all people, is showing Republicans the way. What they need is a candidate who embodies the spirit of Ron Paul. Just so long as it isn’t Ron Paul.

There’s a lot of sense in Fineman’s diagnostic (along with this, a sign of the apocalypse).  On foreign policy, Paul is still peddling ideas long ago discredited by Charles Lindbergh and Bob Taft.  But on the domestic side, his compass is truer than most of the GOP.  When the Republican Party isn’t rooted in notions of small government and individual liberty, it tends towards existential drift.  And we all know where that leads.

September 30th, 2009 at 12:38 pm
Rep. Ron Paul on the Daily Show
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