Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can Ron Paul Win New Hampshire?

There's a burst of media speculation suggesting that libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul might pull off an upset in the New Hampshire primary. Newsweek provides some background on the situation:

Much of the world dismisses Paul as a libertarian crank. But mainstream candidates from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have good reason to watch him. That reason's called the New Hampshire primary. Always unpredictable—there's not even a date set for it yet—the primary is more mysterious now because a record 44 percent of voters have registered "undeclared." Suspicious of established politics, with an antiwar sentiment stretching back to Vietnam, they decide at the last minute. Since they can vote in either party's race, their migrations choose the outcome in both. In 2000, two thirds asked for GOP ballots, boosting John McCain and dooming Bill Bradley, who was going after the same voters.

This time, Obama, Giuliani and Mc Cain are the big names fishing in the sea of independents. But conditions have changed: it's expected that two thirds of those voters will take part in the Democratic contest, which could be Obama's main, or last, chance. His yearning to change a "broken political system" is a good hook, but only if he can convince voters he has the guts and skill to do it. He has work to do: a recent Marist College poll shows Clinton leading him among independents 38 to 29 percent. A hot Democratic race would be bad for McCain and Giuliani, whose appeal rests in part on their perceived distance from GOP orthodoxy. The arithmetic of the undeclared is one reason Romney is sprinting to the right and why Mike Huckabee is getting a look in the state.

As George W. Bush's Republican coalition falls apart, its rougher edges become more visible and Paul's small-government, isolationist message gets heard. Many New Hampshirites see the state's Live Free or Die motto as an article of faith, and they blame mushrooming federal deficits as much on the GOP as on the Democrats. "Independents are so mad about spending they can't see straight," says Jennifer Donahue of Saint Anselm College in Manchester. These voters loathe the war in Iraq, too. "They are as antiwar as anyone here, maybe more so," she says.

For now, Paul is a blip on New Hampshire's radar; in a recent poll, he stood at 5 percent among independents. But that could change. He's banked more than $5 million, recently raised more in the state than most other candidates, has a huge Web presence and just bought $1.1 million in New Hampshire TV ads. His staff is inexperienced, but smart. Andy Smith, a pollster at University of New Hampshire, says Paul could get 10 to 20 percent of the vote in the GOP race. That would be a dramatic story, but maybe not one most Republicans would want to read.
Marc Ambinder over at the Atlantic has this about Ron Paul's campaign and constituency:

Paul is now emerging as a serious threat in New Hampshire, perhaps not to win it -- although the winner may need only 25% or so -- , but to influence the outcome in a way that reflects his worldview. He will spend most of the $5.3M in his campaign budget on television, mailings and field organizing in the Granite State. There are 450 people in largest Ron Paul Meetup group, and they're canvassing in Claremont and dropping lit in Manchester this weekend.

Who likes Paul? His aides say there is no single demographic. Many are former members of the Buchanan Brigade, suddenly re-energized by Paul's anti-interventionism and strong border stances. Others seem to be casual libertarians who never really found a sympathetic voice in any of the other presidential candidates. Yet others are self-described constitutionalists. They blame the monetary system for the credit crunch and for economic dislocation. Monetary policy has been Paul's other big bugbear.
In other words, every crank under the sun's attracted to Paul's candidacy. In my earlier post on "The Strangeness of Libertarianism," I noted how even hardline Stalinists have joined the Paul coalition, a point that generated some debate in the comments. So to follow up that thread, note FrontPage Magazine's coverage of Paul speaking at a hardline antiwar rally promoting "American Fascism Awareness Day":

The campaign mounted by campus leftists against Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which is scheduled to take place on more than 100 campuses during the week of October 22-26 has taken a new turn with the announcement of a counter-protest at the Washington Monument. The protest, which will be called “American Fascism Awareness Day” is being organized by Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Students for Justice In Palestine, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee among others and will feature speakers such as congressman Dennis Kucinich and presidential candidate Ron Paul, anti-war activists Cindy Sheehan and Harry Karry and actor Sean Penn. According to a spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, one of the sponsors of the event, “This is an answer to the Jew Horowitz and the neo-conservative Zionists who dragged us into an imperialist war in Iraq and are spreading hatred against Muslims to support their war plans against the Republic of Iran.”
There shouldn't be any question that modern libertarianism is just a front for the most hardened antiwar America-bashers on the political scene. Moreover, Ron Paul's a fraud. He besmirches the GOP label by claiming to be Republican. With reference to the Newsweek story, I won't be surprised if Paul picks up 20 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote, which would have the effect of keeping the GOP nomination wide open.

Fortunately, all of the top-tier candidates in the Republican field boast strong pro-victory credentials on foreign policy. Their views will prevail soon enough. Paul's 15-minutes of primary fame will be over before you know it.


My commenters are indicating that "American Fascist Awareness Week" might be a hoax (see this blog post at "Nice Deb" to that effect).

I appreciate the feedback, but while "
American Fascist Awareness Week" might be a joke, there's no disputing Ron Paul's support among hardline Stalinist organizations, and not to mention Paul's outright pandering to them.

Adam Kokesh, one of the antiwar movements most strident America-bashers,
sports a photo of Ron Paul on his blog, and he claims that he's "a card-carrying lifetime member of the Libertarian Party. " Kokesh is cited in this article from the Weekly Standard as advocating the use of American military forces to topple the U.S. government!

Also, Paul's commentaries are regularly featured at the website, including a piece published Thursday, "Interventionism? Isolationism? Actually, Both."

mainstream press reports indicate that Paul's coalition includes the most wid-eyed crazies imaginable (which bolsters the main conclusion of my post):

To say Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has eclectic supporters could be considered an understatement.

Paul, a Texas congressman in town today for a series of speeches and fundraisers, is compared by various boosters to liberal U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, consumer activist Ralph Nader and conservative stalwart Barry Goldwater.

Also in his tent are plenty of anti-government conspiracy theorists — the folks who a decade ago warned of black helicopters, a coming U.N. invasion, and chaos surrounding the Y2K computer bug.

It's an odd collection of people, and if Paul has his wish, they'll come ready to open their checkbooks.
Yeah, really odd. As I've said before:

In truth, Paul's appeal is strong among any and all of the whacked-out loons whose Bush-hatred knows no bounds. There's no consistency here: From paleoconservatives to Stalinists, the most hardened Bush-bashing anti-victory types have joined together in the most unprincipled outburst of blame-America-firstism we've seen in a generation.
I stand by my original thesis: Modern libertarianism is just a front for the most hardened antiwar America-bashers on the political scene.

Ron Paul is radioactive, and with their backing of him, libertarians will be squirming to disown the disastrous reputation which flows from his hatred of the military and the robust use of American power.

(Paul's so bad,
even the Daily Kos nihilists are desperately backing away from him!)


UPDATE II: From NH_GOP in the comments:

Ron doesn't pander to any hate-america crowd. He gets the most donations from the military and veterans. Look up his background before you end up in court.

The Houston Chronicle ran a story last week on Paul's support among the military, "Paul leads in donations from military voters, with Obama next."

Michael Goldfarb over at the Weekly Standard took issue with the report, in a response to an Andrew Sullivan post:

Does Andrew Sullivan read stories before he comments on them? In this case, I suspect he didn't, otherwise he's engaging in pure military-related fantasy. In response to this article from the Houston Chronicle reporting that Ron Paul and Barack Obama lead all candidates in fund raising among "donors identified as affiliated with the military," Sullivan headlines a post "Whom the Troops Support," with this stunningly self-indulgent conclusion (actually this is the whole post):

Just one indicator, of course: campaign donations from active service military members. And guess who's first? Ron Paul. Second? Barack Obama. Those tasked to actually fighting this war get it, don't they?
Except this isn't about campaign donations from "active service military members," whatever they might be, but "donors affiliated with the military," which Sullivan might have noticed had he slogged through the whole first sentence of the story. In fact, the first "active service military member" and Ron Paul supporter interviewed for the piece is 72-year-old Lindell Anderson, a retired Army chaplain from Fort Worth. Further, the Chron notes that the average size of Paul's donations from this subset was $500. How many active duty soldiers are giving $500 to fringe candidates a year out from the election? Not many, I suspect. In fact, among all the candidates, the total number of contributors surveyed here numbered less than 1,000--out of an Armed Forces of 2.2 million. And, remember, most of these contributors aren't even active duty.
NH_GOP ought to clear his own hate-addled mind before he starts in with the imbecilic (and impotent) threats.


UPDATE III: Adam Holland's got a comprehensive post documenting neo-nazi support for the Paul campaign.

I think Holland's a bit unschooled on the fine points of states'-rights doctrine found in libertarian thought, although he nevertheless does a useful service identifying some of Paul's whacked-out right wing supporters.

Also, Captain Ed wants to know why the Paul campaign has paid for the services of Alex Jones, a prominent activist in the 9/11 truth movement.