Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

January 28, 2008

Monday Open Thread: Florida Primary Predictions

by Doug Mataconis

One of these days, I’m gonna get this right, and I think hope today may be the day.

Here’s how I think things will pan out in Florida tomorrow.

Republicans

  1. John McCain
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. Rudy Giuliani
  4. Mike Huckabee
  5. Ron Paul

Over the weekend, John McCain received endorsements from Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist, both of which are likely to be just enough to help him overcome a last minute surge from Mitt Romney. Depending on how big the margin of victory, this could be the beginning of the end of the Republican race. Giuliani has fallen behind, but there are also reports that he has benefited a lot from Florida’s early voting — I don’t think it’s going to be enough to push him past third place, though. Huckabee continues to do well in southern states like Georgia and Tennessee, but Florida’s influx of Northerners is cutting down on his support there. As for Ron Paul, well from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem like the campaign has paid any attention at all to Florida — again making me wonder what they’re doing with all that money they raised.

Democrats

  1. Hillary Clinton
  2. Barack Obama
  3. John Edwards

Technically, there isn’t really supposed to be a Democratic Primary in Florida tomorrow, or at least not one that counts. When the Florida Democratic Party decided to move it’s primary up to January 29th, the National Committee responded by stripping the state of all of it’s delegates. And each of the candidates promised not to actively campaign in Florida as well and support the DNC’s decision. Unless your name is Hillary Clinton, of course:

This is a very, very, very big deal. From the Clinton campaign:

I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.

I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well.

Hillary is going to win Florida, basically by default, just like she won the meaningless primary in Michigan. Between those two states we’re talking about over 200 delegates that wouldn’t be seated if the DNC’s resolution stands. Does anyone not think that Hillary will make an issue over this if the nomination fight ends up being as close as some think it will be ?

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  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    As for Ron Paul, well from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem like the campaign has paid any attention at all to Florida — again making me wonder what they’re doing with all that money they raised.

    C’mon now. It’s an all or nothing state restricted to registered Republicans. They would have been heavily outgunned. They’re using the money to pick off delegates in lightly contested states.

  • http://www.ronpaulblimp.com Pablo Escobar

    Ron Paul has shown he can be competitive in smaller states that aren’t as heavily contested by the other candidates. Look at his second place (behind Mitt Romney) in Nevada, for example.

    Also remember that he could still finish first place in Louisiana once they finish counting all the votes in the recent caucus (he’s currently second, behind John McCain). This will push him up to third place in the total delegate count.

    My prediction: Giuliani and Huckabee will drop out after Super Tuesday. Only Paul has the money to keep going, because he’s not competing for funds from the traditional establishment sources that all the other candidates look to. His funds come from the external libertarian movement.

    Soon it will be down to 3: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

  • Kay

    Well, I can tell you that in my (albeit limited) circle of family and friends, I know of no one who will vote for McCain. Disgusted as we all are, we’re mostly determined to hold our noses and vote for Romney in order to try to keep McCain out. And, here’s a funny for you all about how Ron Paul is spending his money – we were “in town” last week on Wednesday, and I had to chuckle – saw quite a few Ron Paul signs and vehicles wherever we went. In passing by our little airport in New Smyrna Beach, there was a large BLIMP with the Ron Paul Revolution banner played out across it and a handful (less than a dozen people) hanging out nearby. Don’t know when they got the thing off the ground or where it went, but it was kinda looking like a bust to me.

  • Nick

    Kay,

    The blimp and signs were not paid for by the Paul campaign. Those were paid for separately by his supporters. (I should know; I sank about $200 in the blimp myself.)

  • Kay

    Oh my . . .

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    It’s an all or nothing state restricted to registered Republicans. They would have been heavily outgunned. They’re using the money to pick off delegates in lightly contested states.

    Sorry, but that’s a horrible gameplan. If you aren’t going after the Republican population centers in the Republican primary you’re cooked, it’s that simple. You can futz about with the smaller states all you want, but quantity still matters and Ron Paul is following a losing strategy here by ignoring the main population centers…especially since his highest placing in those smaller primaries has been 2nd in a state that many candidates flat-out ignored and especially since the candidates bowing out of the race are throwing their support to Romney and McCain, not Ron Paul. He’s done in the primary. He might have some ability to do well in third-party or independent bid for President but he’s not going anywhere with the GOP.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Jeff,

    I’ll second what Crawford said. Failing to even try to become competitive in what is arguably the most important pre Super Tuesday primary to date is a dumb strategy. It further writes the campaign into irrelevance and will, inevitably, demoralize the troops in other states. Nobody, no matter how impassioned they are, wants to work for a loser.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Pablo,

    Yea, Paul finished second in Nevada but it was a far, far, far second. Romney got more than 50% of the vote, Paul got about 14%. Not exactly competitive.

    My prediction: Giuliani and Huckabee will drop out after Super Tuesday. Only Paul has the money to keep going, because he’s not competing for funds from the traditional establishment sources that all the other candidates look to. His funds come from the external libertarian movement.

    I agree about Giuliani, but not Huckabee. He is doing well in several Super Tuesday states and stands to actually win a few (Georgia and Missouri being two) if his numbers hold up. If that happens, he’ll stay in for awhile longer if only to help McCain, which he’s been doing for awhile now.

    And I’m not sure what you’re talking about when it comes to fund raising. From what I’ve seen they are nowhere near the pace they were in the 4th Quarter.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Doug,

    It further writes the campaign into irrelevance

    Actually I’m not sure that the campaign could be any more irrelevant. The hired campaign staff has done a terrible job, the candidate is a weak public speaker who hasn’t given specifics on the “how” of any of his issues, and he’s not getting the votes. Basically I think the campaign was sunk after they screwed up in New Hampshire and started following their “campaign only in the boondocks” approach.

    Also, today I finally saw Ron Paul’s comments that he made on “Meet the Press” about the Civil War being unnecessary (which I missed when they were news) and I’m coming to the conclusion that Paul is actually more than a little unhinged and not quite so ideologically different from the racists as I’d been willing to believe (even after the whole newsletter debacle). Quite frankly his remarks were simplistic, historically revisionist, and rather offensive so I’m kind of glad now to see him getting trounced in the race. Libertarians like that we don’t need as our poster children. I just wish we could find a limited government candidate who wasn’t quite so fatally flawed. In any case, I won’t speaking favorably of him very often in the future.

  • DrewA

    Romney only won Nevada because of Religion. The ONLY reason.

    Its pathetic this blackout on Ron Paul. Then again, its what you would expect, the big media is owned by even bigger corporations. Those guys have contracts and deals with the Military.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Also, today I finally saw Ron Paul’s comments that he made on “Meet the Press” about the Civil War being unnecessary (which I missed when they were news) and I’m coming to the conclusion that Paul is actually more than a little unhinged and not quite so ideologically different from the racists as I’d been willing to believe (even after the whole newsletter debacle). Quite frankly his remarks were simplistic, historically revisionist, and rather offensive so I’m kind of glad now to see him getting trounced in the race. Libertarians like that we don’t need as our poster children. I just wish we could find a limited government candidate who wasn’t quite so fatally flawed. In any case, I won’t speaking favorably of him very often in the future.

    I appreciate your reaction, and largely agree.

    Paul’s comments about Lincoln are basically the same thing that you hear from the Rockwell/Mises Institute crowd on the issue. To them, Lincoln was the devil incarnate and the Confederacy was a libertarian nirvana, or at least that’s how it seems when I read their stuff on the issue.

    I’ve written on this issue here before, but while I’m no fan of Lincoln, I am even less of a fan of white male slaveowners who tried to secede from the Union because they didn’t like how an election turned out.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Romney only won Nevada because of Religion. The ONLY reason.

    He won because he had a superior organization.

    Its pathetic this blackout on Ron Paul. Then again, its what you would expect, the big media is owned by even bigger corporations. Those guys have contracts and deals with the Military.

    Don’t you remember that they were paying attention to him in November and December when he was raising money and causing an internet stir ?

    They’re not paying attention to him now because, quite frankly, he has no chance of winning.

    Moreover, no news organization has any obligation whatsoever to provide free media to any candidate. There’s a little thing called the First Amendment in case you haven’t forgotten.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Don’t you remember that they were paying attention to him in November and December when he was raising money and causing an internet stir ?

    He got a couple dozen mentions over the course of a couple days in each of those months.

    They noticed, but that’s not “paying attention.” It’s certainly nothing like the attention that was lavished upon Huckabee when he before he was anything near a national player.

    I don’t think it’s a conspiracy or anything, but it shows how BS the system is. The problem is the “electability” factor. The media uses it to shape the race waaaaaay before the voters are even paying attention. Consequently, Paul never got a fair look. Labels were slapped on his name and repeated ad nauseum by people who had no business deciding anything.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to use the government to control the media or anything. I just want to see some election reform so that “electability” isn’t such a convenient excuse. Approval Voting would be a good step, even though it would actually hurt Paul since his strategy depends on the pro-war vote being split.

  • UCrawford

    Jeff,

    I just want to see some election reform so that “electability” isn’t such a convenient excuse.

    My suggestion would be that the government eliminate all limits on what legal money may be donated to a campaign. It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s a start and it doesn’t involve adding more government oversight or regulation.

    As for “electability” Ron Paul’s pretty much the one who made himself a pariah. The man’s got no idea of how to implement what he wants to do and he does a shitty job of surrounding himself with people who can help him. Any candidate that daft is going to get himself bounced from a presidential race, no matter how much press he gets.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    My suggestion would be that the government eliminate all limits on what legal money may be donated to a campaign. It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s a start and it doesn’t involve adding more government oversight or regulation.

    I’m not a fan of the regulation, but I don’t see how that would help.

    As for “electability” Ron Paul’s pretty much the one who made himself a pariah. The man’s got no idea of how to implement what he wants to do and he does a shitty job of surrounding himself with people who can help him.

    If that’s the way it had gone down, I wouldn’t have said anything about it. The MSM had written the book on Paul weeellll before he had a chance to screw anything up.

    If you don’t believe me, skip forward to the 6:45 mark and then note the date.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Jeff,

    The MSM had written the book on Paul weeellll before he had a chance to screw anything up.

    As I’ve said before, it’s not the media’s job to give free press to every candidate running for office. If they do something, that in the editorial judgment of the news entity is worthy of coverage, they get coverage. If they don’t, they don’t.

    That’s the way it is.

    And, thanks to the First Amendment, there’s nothing anyone can or should do about it.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    As I’ve said before, it’s not the media’s job to give free press to every candidate running for office.

    Thanks for the form letter, Doug. Did you hear me complaining about “equal time” or anything like that? No, you didn’t.

    My problem is with guys like Stephanopolous (and many others) repeating “He can’t win” ad nauseum in the middle of the summer.

    And no, I didn’t suggest an authoritarian solution for that either.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Ok, before the first two paragraph of my 4:05 comment is taken out of context:

    I was only trying to refute Doug’s implication that they were giving him equal time until he made a series of mistakes. I didn’t mean to imply that they were under some sort of obligation to do so.

    (Though I could conceivably make a stab at it if I wanted to invoke the “public interest” clause of the broadcasting license. Most of the problem was on cable, though.)

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Failing to even try to become competitive in what is arguably the most important pre Super Tuesday primary to date is a dumb strategy.

    You’re right, but there’s only one dumber strategy: spending limited resources in a populous state where you can’t possibly come away with even a moral victory.

    Look, it would take an absolute miracle for him to win following the boondocks strategy, but it’s really the only option other than dropping out. If he’s gonna have any impact at the convention, he needs to win at least 5 states.

    So he’s trying to pick the low-hanging fruit. would you rather he just disappear? Would you rather that no one serve as a counterweight to the statist majority in the Republican party?

  • UCrawford

    Jeff,

    I’m not a fan of the regulation, but I don’t see how that would help.

    It makes fundraising easier for candidates who may not have a widespread support network of donors set up by allowing them to gather more funds from large donors. The current restrictions work to the favor of big name candidates from large population centers who already have a large network of supporters to draw from. This evens the field slightly.

    If that’s the way it had gone down, I wouldn’t have said anything about it. The MSM had written the book on Paul weeellll before he had a chance to screw anything up.

    Ron Paul’s struggles didn’t really have much to do with the MSM. It had to do with the fact he never offered specifics about how he planned to implement his ideas…he just pointed out the flaws in the current system, which is good but he still needs a plan. It had to do with his terrible job of marketing his campaign as exemplified by the dearth of campaign ads prior to big primaries and the poor quality of many ads when they did show up…despite the fact he had one of the biggest war chests. It had to do with Ron Paul alienating his more prominent libertarian followers (and a lot of average everyday ones) by doing a terrible job of explaining the newsletters, by courting conspiracy theorists and racists throughout his campaign, and by doing brainless things like taking the Confederacy’s side in the Civil War. Basically, Ron Paul struggled because Ron Paul was a textbook example of a bad candidate…the MSM ignored him or dismissed him because he’s not much more than an intellectual gadfly and that’s what the press is supposed to do with candidates who aren’t running serious campaigns.

    I mean, let’s face it, for all his reputation as a tough limited-government Congressman, what has he actually done? What bad laws has he gotten overturned? What leadership position has he ever held to help quash bad bills in committee? What bills has he gotten passed to get government off our backs? Aside from talking a good game about where the flaws are, what has he actually tangibly done to improve bring this dream of a Constitutional government to fruition even in his limited position as a Congressman? How much of that has he implemented? Because most of what I’ve seen from him is talk about ideals that he doesn’t always do a great job of living up to and that he can’t seem to get anybody else to buy into. Those aren’t qualities of a serious presidential candidate or a good leader.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    It makes fundraising easier for candidates who may not have a widespread support network of donors set up by allowing them to gather more funds from large donors.

    I don’t know how it would play out in other elections, but the current system definitely helped RP this go around. We weren’t the ones maxing out. Deregulating campaign finance would help empower rich people and those who gain the support of many of them. Philosophically, I’m cool with that, but I don’t understand your argument that it would somehow change the tone of politics in this country.

    It doesn’t address the core problem of Washington having too much power.

    It had to do with the fact he never offered specifics about how he planned to implement his ideas…

    Nonsense. Nobody talks specifics about anything. Just the other day, Doug complained that one of Paul’s debate answers was too specific.

    It had to do with his terrible job of marketing his campaign as exemplified by the dearth of campaign ads prior to big primaries and the poor quality of many ads when they did show up…despite the fact he had one of the biggest war chests.

    He never had “one of the biggest war chests.” His was competitive, but at its peak (mid-december, when it was already too late to buy much time in IA and NH), it was still just in the middle of the top tier.

    I agree that the first round of ads were uninspiring. It should be stated, though, that this was partially due to the dearth of free media. The media made sure everyone knew every other candidates’ biographies (and every move). Paul had to pay to air his. Say what you will about whether that should or should not have been the case, but it is a fact.

    It had to do with Ron Paul alienating his more prominent libertarian followers (and a lot of average everyday ones) by doing a terrible job of explaining the newsletters

    Eh, I think a review of the record would show that most of them were never on board.

    by doing brainless things like taking the Confederacy’s side in the Civil War.

    It was a position he took two decades ago. I’m sure Romney said some pretty stupid things back then too. The difference is that it was dredged up before a national audience. Yeah, he probably should have danced around it, but weren’t you just complaining that he was acting like a typical politician when he tried to avoid the newsletter issue?

    P.S. Regardless of your position on the government’s role in race relations, surely you can agree that defending the right of to secede is a defensible position for a libertarian.

    I mean, let’s face it, for all his reputation as a tough limited-government Congressman, what has he actually done? What bad laws has he gotten overturned? What leadership position has he ever held to help quash bad bills in committee? What bills has he gotten passed to get government off our backs? Aside from talking a good game about where the flaws are, what has he actually tangibly done to improve bring this dream of a Constitutional government to fruition even in his limited position as a Congressman? How much of that has he implemented?

    Doug, are you posting under UC’s name? Are you serious?

    Ok, picture this: You’re the lone libertarian in Congress. What could you get done and how would you do it?

    Sorry, but it’s not gonna happen. That was the point of fighting for the veto pen.

    Because most of what I’ve seen from him is talk about ideals that he doesn’t always do a great job of living up to

    Say what?? You wanna back that up with something?

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Jeff,

    My problem is with guys like Stephanopolous (and many others) repeating “He can’t win” ad nauseum in the middle of the summer.

    Well, he has the right to say it so I don’t know what the solution to this “problem” is other than complaining about it.

    And George was late to the game, I doubted Paul’s ability to win way back in January of `07.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Well, he has the right to say it so I don’t know what the solution to this “problem” is other than complaining about it.

    I suggested one at 4:05. Did you read it?

    And George was late to the game, I doubted Paul’s ability to win way back in January of `07.

    We know.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    It doesn’t address the core problem of Washington having too much power.

    No argument there, I completely agree.

    You’re the lone libertarian in Congress.

    Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, Jon Tester…Paul’s far from the only libertarian in Congress. But let’s look at that for a second…why aren’t any of the non-libertarian guys buying into what Paul is saying? Why is he always apparently on his own here? Flake and Pence seem to be able to work within the system and achieve results. They appear capable of working with conservatives to achieve their goals of limiting spending. And there’s quite a bit that politicians can do to stop earmarks being added. Hell, Flake actually refuses to grab earmarks for his own district and challenges earmarks that other lawmakers add to bills, which forces them to publicly justify them, and he does this BEFORE the vote comes around. What about Ron Paul? Does he put blocks on specific earmarks? Does he forego pork for his own district? Does he do anything to stop government spending beyond casting a nay vote he knows won’t kill a bill he’s added earmarks for his district to? I’m not saying this to be snarky, I’m seriously asking for specifics…what earmarks has Ron Paul actually gotten stripped from bills coming through Congress? How many blocks has he put on them? What has he actually done as far as tangible work besides cast an often meaningless vote and make speeches about how things ought to be? He seems to have the best ideas if you look at his platform…why does everybody else dismiss him? Could it be because he’s basically a lightweight who just talks a good game but hasn’t got a clue how to work with anyone else to achieve his goals?

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    Also, as to his remarks on the Civil War:

    It was a position he took two decades ago.

    It was a position he reiterated and argued for on “Meet the Press” this December, so it’s not ancient history…he actually still believes that the Civil War was wrong and that slavery should not have been outlawed by the federal government it should have been allowed to gradually die out or that the feds should have purchased all of the slaves (which would have been impossible if the federal government were run as Ron Paul thinks it should be run because the Constitution doesn’t allow it and it would have involved massive taxation to pay for it). So if it took another two, three or ten generations for slavery to go away, Ron Paul would apparently have been okay with that as long as “states’ rights” weren’t violated by the feds dictating terms.

    Now, as much as I believe in states’ rights to solve local issues he is wrong, absolutely wrong. State governments cannot be allowed to clearly trample on individual rights simply because they don’t feel they should have to answer to the feds. Slavery was an instance where the federal government had to step in. Statutory discrimination, which still exists today, is an instance where the federal government must step in. In Ron Paul’s ideal world, the Bill of Rights apparently stops being relevant outside the borders of Washington D.C. and I consider that an untenable and morally compromised position. We are a union of states, and there is a code by which those states and the federal government must abide (the Constitution). When the feds violate that they must be held accountable, but so too should the states. Ron Paul has, to my mind, demonstrated that he sees only one side (the feds) being obligated to hold up their end and I’ve got no respect for someone with views that regressive and naive. As far as I’m concerned his remarks on this topic and his actions (on almost everything else) demonstrate the absolute hollowness of his platform and his unsuitability to be entrusted with any kind of leadership position.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Jeff Flake, Mike Pence, Jon Tester…Paul’s far from the only libertarian in Congress.

    C’mon now. You might even be able to run the number up to 20 reps (a whopping 5% of congress), but my point is valid. There’s nothing remotely resembling a bloc of serious fiscal conservatives.

    why aren’t any of the non-libertarian guys buying into what Paul is saying? Why is he always apparently on his own here? Flake and Pence seem to be able to work within the system and achieve results. They appear capable of working with conservatives to achieve their goals of limiting spending.

    Achieve results? Government is growing faster than it ever has. You can make the argument that they’re making some small impact, but let’s be honest. The impact is incredibly small. I’ll take a principled stand over whatever mini-victories they’re claiming.

    And there’s quite a bit that politicians can do to stop earmarks being added. Hell, Flake actually refuses to grab earmarks for his own district and challenges earmarks that other lawmakers add to bills, which forces them to publicly justify them, and he does this BEFORE the vote comes around. What about Ron Paul? Does he put blocks on specific earmarks? Does he forego pork for his own district? Does he do anything to stop government spending beyond casting a nay vote he knows won’t kill a bill he’s added earmarks for his district to? I’m not saying this to be snarky, I’m seriously asking for specifics…what earmarks has Ron Paul actually gotten stripped from bills coming through Congress? How many blocks has he put on them?

    ::Sigh:: You’ve bought into the earmark rhetoric. They’re as meaningless as signing statements. The problem is the motivation and incentives behind the earmarks.

    We won’t save a dime until you reduce the departmental appropriations. Let me know when you find someone capable of doing that.

    Frankly, I have no problem with Paul’s analogy about earmarks and tax credits. I think the stimulus package is a stupid idea that will just exacerbate our long term problems, but I’m still gonna cash my check.

    He seems to have the best ideas if you look at his platform…why does everybody else dismiss him? Could it be because he’s basically a lightweight who just talks a good game but hasn’t got a clue how to work with anyone else to achieve his goals?

    Or maybe it’s just because collectivism permeates our society?

    We won’t be able to solve the fundamental problems with our government until we change public thinking. Do you really think Flake is making any progress with that?

    It doesn’t look like Paul will succeed in getting his message into the mainstream, but at least his consistency and idealism lit a fire in the hearts of the next generation. That alone gives us a chance at long term change.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    Say what?? You wanna back that up with something?

    Since you asked, here’s why I now consider Paul to be something of a hypocrite and why my opinion of him has done a 180.

    1) Publishing a newsletter featuring racist content under his name which he acknowledged when it provided him with money and recognition then disavowed when it drew criticism. Not to mention the fact that he still has the editor of that newsletter as a top advisor, which indicates he wasn’t all that offended by what was written.

    2) Claiming that he opposes racism but failing to distinguish between personal prejudice and discrimination (which is wrong but still an individual right to free association) and statutory discrimination (which should be adamantly opposed at every level). Ron Paul has, to my mind, clearly demonstrated that his opposition of racism stops at the federal level.

    3) Using the welfare state as a justification to restrict immigration. Blatant hypocrisy for a supposed libertarian and combined with the newsletter flap, his Civil War comments, and his fondness with racist groups it makes me question just how honest Paul is about his belief in equal rights.

    4) Going on record as opposing earmarks while requesting them for his own district and (as far as I can tell) doing nothing to strip them from bills before the vote comes around. I understand that it’s politically convenient for him to be this way, but the lack of any evidence I can find that he actually challenges other politicians’ earmarks convinces me that he values his career a hell of a lot more than the ideals.

    Combine those with his general ineffectiveness in Congress, his weaknesses as a presidential candidate (poor speaker, tendency to ramble, his open courting of extremists), and the fact that he only start touting his libertarian ties once people started calling him a racist (before then he always tried to distance himself from libertarianism) and I see a guy who, by choice, consistently falls short of what he preaches.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    It doesn’t look like Paul will succeed in getting his message into the mainstream, but at least his consistency and idealism lit a fire in the hearts of the next generation. That alone gives us a chance at long term change.

    I’d like to think you’ll turn out to be right about this, but I’m beginning to doubt it.

    A lot of these people seem pretty naive about politics to the point where I recently read discussion threads where Ron Paul supporters talked about how great an idea it would be if Paul ran on a third party ticket with Dennis Kucinich as his running mate.

    Talk about margainilization. Kucinich is both a nut and a socialist, how anyone who is attracted to RP because of his libertarian ideas could find him palatable is beyond me.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Achieve results? Government is growing faster than it ever has. You can make the argument that they’re making some small impact, but let’s be honest. The impact is incredibly small. I’ll take a principled stand over whatever mini-victories they’re claiming.

    Ron Paul doesn’t take a principled stand. He puts earmarks for his own district in his bills, he apparently doesn’t challenge other Congressmen on their earmarks, and he casts a nay vote that’s essentially meaningless. Jeff Flake and the 5% of libertarians in Congress may accomplish minimal victories, but as far as I can see Ron Paul accomplishes no victories…he just talks about principles that he himself does very little to live up to. And as for the political convenience of what he does, I was more willing to accept that as a tradeoff until I realized that Jeff Flake doesn’t put any earmarks for his district into spending bills but keeps getting reelected…even after he publicizes the fact that he won’t give his constituents pork. What’s Ron Paul’s excuse?

    You’ve bought into the earmark rhetoric. They’re as meaningless as signing statements. The problem is the motivation and incentives behind the earmarks.

    I dismissed the earmark rhetoric until I realized that Paul apparently doesn’t use any of the tools available to him as a Congressman to block pork spending by anybody else. That makes him complicit. And while discretionary spending is less a problem than the war, it’s still a problem…it’s still our money being taken by force and given to others and Ron Paul is still contributing to it. His rationale that everybody else is doing it is merely tu quoque.

    Or maybe it’s just because collectivism permeates our society? We won’t be able to solve the fundamental problems with our government until we change public thinking.

    Collectivists can be convinced to change their views. However, as far as I’ve seen Ron Paul hasn’t done a particularly good job of convincing anyone whose mind wasn’t made up before. He has, however, done a good job of turning people who were willing to vote for him against him with his personal baggage and his incompetent campaign.

    It doesn’t look like Paul will succeed in getting his message into the mainstream, but at least his consistency and idealism lit a fire in the hearts of the next generation. That alone gives us a chance at long term change.

    I don’t think Ron Paul will have much of an effect either way…he’s not a particularly good example of libertarians (he’s more of a populist) and he’s not a very good campaigner. If a worthwhile libertarian candidate comes up I’ll most likely vote for him, but that’ll have nothing to do with Ron Paul. I suspect if you asked a lot of libertarians they’d probably say the same. Ron Paul is a blip that didn’t do much to advance libertarianism at all in this country.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    I’ll get back to the civil war stuff later. I gotta work.

    Since you asked, here’s why I now consider Paul to be something of a hypocrite and why my opinion of him has done a 180.

    1. Yup. He’s human. I won’t try to defend him on that.
    2. I don’t think you’re right on this one. I see why you think so, but I think a thorough analysis would justify (most?) of his statements. I don’t have the time though, so let’s just agree to disagree for the time being.
    3. He’s not an orthodox libertarian and I don’t think he ever claimed to be. He’s not just spinning when he says he’s a Constitutionalist Republican; that happens to align him with libertarians on most issues, but not all.
    4. Is he on record as opposing earmarks? I haven’t heard any such statements. If he’s contradicted himself on that, please cite.

    his open courting of extremists

    Damn, when you turn on someone, you don’t hold anything back. When has he “open[ly] court[ed] extremists”?

    the fact that he only start touting his libertarian ties once people started calling him a racist

    Care to provide a quote?

    I’d like to think you’ll turn out to be right about this, but I’m beginning to doubt it.

    Clearly, there are statists among his supporters. There are also people that don’t comprehend his full message. But he has also opened the minds of many people. He has also given many of us the opportunity to talk about real freedom with friends and relatives who otherwise wouldn’t take the time to discuss political philosophy.

    Some of the best people in our meetup group are high schoolers that have spent the past six months devouring info about the freedom movement. Trust me, it’s impressive.

    It may not be enough, but it is a real accomplishment.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    A lot of these people seem pretty naive about politics to the point where I recently read discussion threads where Ron Paul supporters talked about how great an idea it would be if Paul ran on a third party ticket with Dennis Kucinich as his running mate.

    Agreed…I think a lot of these groups are going to fade away because they’re political diletantes. If Paul hadn’t done such an efficient job of sinking his own campaign I think he might have had more of a long-term effect but I think he pretty clearly demonstrated himself to be something of a crackpot.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    I think he might have had more of a long-term effect but I think he pretty clearly demonstrated himself to be something of a crackpot.

    The long term effect has nothing to do with him or perceptions of him. A network of activists sprung up around him and it’s up to us to harness that for future use. I don’t know about other states, but we’re definitely taking advantage of it here. I’ll talk more about it off the record, if you’d like.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    I’ve got to get back to work too but I’ll just address a couple of your point…I think you’re right that a more thorough analysis should probably be done later.

    4. Is he on record as opposing earmarks? I haven’t heard any such statements. If he’s contradicted himself on that, please cite.

    If he isn’t openly opposing earmarks he’s simply not a proponent of limited government. Earmarks are straight theft. The government takes money from everyone by threat of force to give it to one politician’s district. You can’t claim to be any kind of limited government proponent if you’re not opposing them.

    When has he “open[ly] court[ed] extremists”?

    Repeated appearances on Alex Jones, the newsletters, his immigration platform.

    Care to provide a quote?

    No quotes but I’ll provide two instances. In a clip from Wolf Blitzer that Doug did a couple of months ago Paul admitted to being libertarian after repeated prodding from Blitzer but kept emphasizing that he was a Republican (he’s said this repeatedly). In his interview with Blitzer after the newsletter scandal broke his comment was along the lines of “It’s ridiculous that they’re calling me a racist…I’M A LIBERTARIAN” (paraphrased…I’m sure the interview is available on YouTube). Nary a mention of being a Republican first. Ron Paul has usually taken on the identity that gives him the most benefit…if people call him an outsider he claims to be Republican, if people call him a racist he claims to be libertarian. That doesn’t make him worst than most politicians but he also doesn’t get credit for being any kind of idealist because of it.

    Damn, when you turn on someone, you don’t hold anything back.

    When I voice my support for a candidate and tell people I know that he’s a good person to vote for, then he turns out to be just another hack, I’m not particularly forgiving. I suppose a lot of that is my fault for being willing to support a guy who’s track record was obviously pretty spotty, but there’s definitely a feeling of personal betrayal there. Ron Paul made libertarians look bad in a presidential election because he took a lot of personally convenient shortcuts over his career…I don’t really see any reason to be polite about pointing that out.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    As for Paul’s civil war comments, others more vigilant than I was broke them down back in December.

    http://reasonandrevelation.blogspot.com/2007/12/ron-pauls-civil-war.html

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    If he isn’t openly opposing earmarks he’s simply not a proponent of limited government. Earmarks are straight theft

    No, taxation is theft. Earmarks are just one way of allocating funds. “How?” doesn’t make much difference; I only care about “How much?”

    Repeated appearances on Alex Jones, the newsletters, his immigration platform.

    I have yet to meet a mainstream person that disagreed with his immigration platform. It’s not libertarian, but it’s absolutely not extreme.

    I won’t try to defend the newsletters. Whatever the real story is, it doesn’t reflect well on him.

    The Alex Jones stuff? Remember that Paul is a guy that will take every single opportunity to spread the message. C’mon, he gave an interview in a guy’s dorm room. He didn’t pander to the extremists; he just said his piece like he does to everyone else that’ll listen.

    Paul admitted to being libertarian after repeated prodding from Blitzer but kept emphasizing that he was a Republican

    I hear what you’re saying, but I think it’s basically just a muddle because of the two party system. In practical terms, we don’t have concise ideological groups; we have two big tents with encompassing various factions.

    I think it is proper to refer to his views as either a “Constitutionalist Republican” or the more common terminology a “libertarian-leaning Republican” and it may be appropriate to emphasize one portion or the other in certain contexts.

    You may be right that he was changing the emphasis purely out of opportunism, but you’d have to peer inside his head to know that. It seems like you’re just filling in all of the blanks with your general displeasure at this point. Just like Doug was always focusing on the negative aspects when he was clearly letting his biases impact his analysis.

    (The combination of views also explains why he draws the ire of orthodox members of both ideologies.)

    When I voice my support for a candidate and tell people I know that he’s a good person to vote for, then he turns out to be just another hack, I’m not particularly forgiving.

    I don’t care that you hate the guy, but I meant that you ceased being honest in your analysis. You decided that he’s unfit to be a prominent member of the movement and now you’re spewing venom about everything he’s ever done.

    That’s enough for now. Wrap up the discussion if you’d like. Let’s save the full autopsy (including the civil war) for December.

  • UCrawford

    Jeff,

    No, taxation is theft. Earmarks are just one way of allocating funds. “How?” doesn’t make much difference; I only care about “How much?”

    How do you think our nation gets into debt? It’s not usually one big event, it’s incrementally increased spending over a long period of time. Earmarks create economic obligations and those economic obligations eventually lead to more taxes or higher inflation because we eventually have to pay what we owe. It’s disingenous of Ron Paul to say that he opposes increased government spending while doing it himself and allowing others to get away with it under the rationalization that each earmark isn’t really that much. He has a choice between taking a principled stand or cushioning his job security and he chose his job security by giving pork back to his district (and by not opposing other Congressmen’s earmarks so they won’t oppose his)…that’s not the action of someone fighting for smaller government. The small stuff matters too, Jeff.

    I have yet to meet a mainstream person that disagreed with his immigration platform.

    I’ve yet to meet a fat person who hadn’t at some point tried to find a way to lose weight that didn’t involve a good diet and exercise. I don’t care if “mainstream” people are on the wrong side of the issue…Ron Paul’s on the wrong side of the issue. His policy is fundamentally wrong and he uses another fundamentally wrong policy (the welfare state) to justify it. He claims to be a student of Austrian economics so he should realize how important open immigration is to free markets, but he takes the opposite tack. Why? To get elected? If that’s the case then why shouldn’t we treat him just like every other hack out there with who panders?

    The Alex Jones stuff? Remember that Paul is a guy that will take every single opportunity to spread the message. C’mon, he gave an interview in a guy’s dorm room. He didn’t pander to the extremists; he just said his piece like he does to everyone else that’ll listen.

    I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that before I found out that Lew Rockwell edited the racist newsletters, that Rockwell denied it to save face (even though it hurt his chosen candidate), that Ron Paul claimed to “not remember” who edited his newsletters (highly unlikely considering the amount of money Rockwell and Paul were paid for his work) and that Ron Paul still keeps him around as an advisor despite the fact he’s an albatross. Whether Ron Paul has some sympathy for Alex Jones’ b.s. (because he showed up there more than once) or whether he’s just a goddamned fool who can’t tell good publicity from bad publicity, he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt from me anymore…he’s thoroughly squandered that.

    I think it is proper to refer to his views as either a “Constitutionalist Republican” or the more common terminology a “libertarian-leaning Republican” and it may be appropriate to emphasize one portion or the other in certain contexts.

    I understand why you feel this way, Jeff, but sorry, it’s bullshit rationalization. Ron Paul tried to distance himself from libertarianism when he felt it was an anchor and he embraced it when he felt it would help him. He’s a fence rider. And Doug was right on one point…libertarians don’t go stirring race hatred, which is what Paul allowed to happen with his newsletters under his name. And even if it was unintentional on his part he still allows the people who were responsible for those newsletters to help run his campaign. Allowing someone who makes racist policy arguments to be a key part of your advisory group is not what a responsible libertarian does. It’s what a hack does. Or it’s what someone who’s a shitty judge of character does. I don’t know which description applies to Ron Paul but it doesn’t really matter…either should disqualify him from any consideration for the Presidency.

    You may be right that he was changing the emphasis purely out of opportunism, but you’d have to peer inside his head to know that. It seems like you’re just filling in all of the blanks with your general displeasure at this point.

    I’m filling in the blanks because Ron Paul has refused to fill them in himself. When Paul was questioned about it his response was to say “It doesn’t matter it was a long time ago” and suggest that we take his word for it. Considering that any responsible libertarian will never take a politician’s word on it for something that shady I find Paul’s response disingenous if not flat-out dishonest. I believe the worst because he’s given us plenty of reason to believe the worst and very few reasons not to. This isn’t nitpicking like Doug was doing about Stormfront donations (where I still think Doug was wrong and Ron Paul was right)…this is tangible proof that Ron Paul has been less than honest with his supporters about his positions and way of doing business.

    I don’t care that you hate the guy, but I meant that you ceased being honest in your analysis. You decided that he’s unfit to be a prominent member of the movement and now you’re spewing venom about everything he’s ever done.

    Whoa…I don’t actually hate Ron Paul. I’m angry with him, I’m extremely disappointed in him, I think he’s a terrible presidential candidate and should withdraw from the race, but I do not hate him, nor do I even think he should leave Congress. I think he’s hit the limit of his usefulness in this race and it’s time for him to go because he’s now doing more harm than good. I also haven’t claimed that you’re an irrational or unfair person for still supporting him like you seem to have insinuated about me with that last comment. As for my changing analysis, I changed my opinion about a lot of his past mistakes because his handling of the newsletter situation gave me plenty of reason to. He put out a newsletter under his name with racist positions. He made about $100,000 per year from it and benefited from the publicity of it. He is apparently keeping the editor of it (who was completely responsible for content) as one of his key advisors. It’s been a political issue for him for at least the last 11 years, and yet he still can’t come up with an explanation for it that isn’t highly implausible. Seriously, Jeff…why should any of us take his word for it? And if he’s willing to be less than honest about something like that…where objectionable material was clearly published under his name…why shouldn’t we start re-evaluating just how honest he’s been about everything else that raised red flags?

    That’s the tricky thing about integrity…once you throw it away on one issue in your life it has a funny way of bleeding over into everything else. If Ron Paul doesn’t realize that, then he deserves all the criticism he gets.

    And yes, I realize that I’m harping the newsletter scandal, but it’s because how he handled it was the tipping point for me because it’s a prime example of how the man does business. Lots of talk about grand ideas but quite a few inconsistencies in living up to them and extremely questionable judgment in how he tries to carry them out.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    And if he’s willing to be less than honest about something like that…where objectionable material was clearly published under his name…why shouldn’t we start re-evaluating just how honest he’s been about everything else that raised red flags?

    You should. You definitely should. I don’t have a single problem with that. My problem is that you didn’t go from “supporter” to “doubter”; you went from “supporter” to “outspoken opponent”.

    You’re not reexamining the red flags that you previously overlooked; You’re summarily concluding that all previous red flags were actually flaws.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    Perhaps you’re right, but Ron Paul’s hardly given me a lot of ammunition to believe otherwise. Plenty of politicians talk a good game about freedom and what they’d do if they were elected but their actions are what really define them. And Ron Paul’s actions have, to me, defined him as someone who’s:

    a) automatically distrusting of anyone outside of his inner circle,
    b) unwilling to accept advice from people outside of his inner circle,
    c) a terrible communicator who is unwilling to build alliances that involve any compromise,
    d) a terrible judge of character of the people he hires,
    e) unwilling to cut loose people who don’t perform or who undercut his message, and
    f) unwilling to exert leadership authority to quash crises even when it threatens to bring down his work.

    Does that sound like another Texas politician you might know who once ran for president on a libertarian-friendly platform? Everything matters, Jeff, even stuff that might by itself seem somewhat trivial or old news. When you put Ron Paul into a bigger context and consider what he’s actually done rather than just what he writes on his issues page or says in his speeches he comes off a lot more like those politicians he claims to oppose than we’d like to believe.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    You’re summarily concluding that all previous red flags were actually flaws.

    The red flags before were flaws back then too. I considered them less important because I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because I believed Ron Paul to be somebody who lived up to the pro-liberty standards that he preached. Retaining advisors who put out racist policy arguments is not living up to what you preach if you’re a pro-liberty candidate.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    But your entire list is based on two things:
    – Rockwell (which I completely understand)
    – Your assumptions about what’s happening within the campaign.

    You could very well be right about all of your assumptions, but you could also be very wrong.

    Look, they were counting on IA and NH to legitimize their campaign, like it did for Huckabee. They came up short and they have largely themselves to blame for it. That is basically undisputed by any rational person.

    What we don’t know is how they responded to that. I have first hand knowledge of enough things to know that they’ve been making changes and trying implement plan B. Are they serious changes or are they shuffling deck chairs? Only time will tell.

    Just remember the core of intellectual honesty is the ability and willingness to acknowledge your assumptions, to admit the things that you don’t actually know for certain.

    It’s unlikely, but what if Paul’s unorthodox Plan B (in an unorthodox election) manages to notch some wins and scrape together a respectable number of delegates. Would that not disprove most of your assertions about his leadership? I realize how improbable it is, but it’s still possible.

    I’m not sure if you’re on Paul’s mailing list or not, but he’s basically laid out his strategy to us and it’s not crazy. It still probably won’t be enough, but he’s been so thoroughly written off that even a few wins would represent a huge moral victory and testify to his leadership skills.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    It’s unlikely, but what if Paul’s unorthodox Plan B (in an unorthodox election) manages to notch some wins and scrape together a respectable number of delegates. Would that not disprove most of your assertions about his leadership? I realize how improbable it is, but it’s still possible.

    I would be willing to admit that he had learned from some of his mistakes if that happened. But I simply don’t see it happening. He still hasn’t removed Rockwell from his campaign, he’s still not going after bigger states like Florida and as far as I can tell his approach to media coverage is the same as it was a year ago. Douglas MacArthur once said that the worst thing any leader can do is be “too late”. And keeping in mind that Paul’s won zero primaries so far and it isn’t looking like that’s going to change with Super Tuesday it’s just too little too late…even if those changes are substantial.

    It still probably won’t be enough, but he’s been so thoroughly written off that even a few wins would represent a huge moral victory and testify to his leadership skills.

    A moral victory would be fighting in each and every state for votes from here on out. Paul isn’t doing that, he’s fighting for states he thinks he might have a shot at winning in based on some godawful campaign strategy apparently cooked up by him and his underwhelming staff. And political campaigns aren’t the place for moral victories…they’re a place for candidates who intend to win. If Ron Paul wasn’t making a serious effort to win from the start he did a disservice to the people who donated their time and money to him. Good leaders go for real victories, not symbolic ones…symbolic victories are for gadflies and cranks.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    That Which is Seen, and that Which is Not Seen

    I’m sure Reagan was grateful for Goldwater’s symbolic victory.

    See your email for more.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jeff,

    I’m sure Reagan was grateful for Goldwater’s symbolic victory.

    I think Reagan was more grateful to his excellent campaign staff, speechwriters, and wealth of leadership experience. Pundits like to romanticize how Goldwater’s defeat led to Reagan’s victory and there’s probably some small influence that had on things in a butterfly in chaos theory sort of way, but realistically it wasn’t much. The GOP’s reaction to Goldwater’s loss was to nominate Richard Nixon…twice. And give lukewarm support to Gerald Ford (who was actually a pretty decent president). After all, it wasn’t Barry Goldwater’s picture Reagan stuck up in the Oval Office as one of his role models…it was Calvin Coolidge.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    True, but Reagan cut his teeth in the Goldwater campaign. The establishment took the wrong lessons from Goldwater’s loss, but beneath the surface, the next generation was busy learning the correct lessons. Eventually they were able to put that learning experience to use behind a more savvy and charismatic candidate.

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