As the polls still show Ron Paul possibly winning the Iowa caucus, more and more people are beginning to take a closer look at what the congressman really believes. The results are not favorable to his image. Paul has his cadre of fanatical defenders, and an on-the-ground organization dedicated to producing a win for him in Iowa. But as we all should realize, the winner of the Iowa caucus is not likely to become the Republican Party nominee — except if it is Mitt Romney.
Ask Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 caucus and went on to a resounding collapse elsewhere. Indeed, the Iowa caucus itself is hardly representative of primary contests in other states, where depending on state rules, a Republican Party primary can find all eligible Republican voters and eligible registered independents also voting. To participate in a caucus, you have to show up, spend a few hours deciding where to stand when it is time to cast your preference, and let your neighbors and friends know precisely whom you voted for. As Huckabee predicted the other day, if the weather is very bad, Paul will win. If it is good weather and easy to get about, Romney will become the winner.
As for what Paul represents, everyone should carefully read the single most incisive dissection of what drives Paul’s supporters and Paul himself. It appears on the website of “The Sultan Knish,” a.k.a. Daniel Greenfield. For some time, I have commented on the dangers of the supporters of a Left-Right antiwar coalition, one that some call the Red-Green coalition or the joining together of the supporters of Pat Buchanan and the last Stalinist in America, Alexander Cockburn. During the Clinton years of the intervention in Bosnia, Cockburn and Buchanan shared the speaker’s podium at anti-war rallies. Today, the equivalent is the similar positions taken by Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader, who have indistinguishable policies.
On this issue, Greenfield makes the following observation:
When Ted Rall was recently dreaming of a left-right revolution against the government, the Paul Pot have been openly talking about it. Rand Paul discussed a left-right coalition for rolling back the “American Empire”. That sort of crossover is what makes Ron Paul valuable. The media championed him as an Anti-War Republican because he offered a left-right coalition against the War on Terror.
For all that the wonks insist on viewing America as a red and blue state lineup, there are a lot of other colors in the mix. More than the libertarians, most of whom have a limited comfort level with Paul, there are various flavors of anarchists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and people who are even further off the map. They are a politically underserved demographic and while they won’t win elections, they have the obsessive nature and the time to make a difference.
Ron Paul’s broad appeal is that he promises to reduce the power of government and American power in general, and that’s something everyone from Communists to Nazis, anarchists to monarchists can get behind. Revolutions begin with a broad front assault on the system and Ron Paul has ended up as the symbol of a broad front of those who see some political, financial or other benefit from taking down the system.
That’s why Ron Paul’s generic policy positions, which aside from drabs of paranoia are not all that distinguishable from many of his opponents, are not really the issue. His pet obsessions even less so except that they allow him to speak the language of his supporters and they make him completely irrelevant on most other issues.
Greenfield continues to point out that “everyone who found the idea of Muslim terrorists massacring thousands of Americans to be an uncomfortable fit with their ideology began finding ways to blame it on America. That’s where Paul’s left-right coalition against the war comes from. The New Left and Paleoconservatives came together to deny reality and found a common cause in maintaining a delusional worldview.” In making this point, Greenfield nails it. Where else can you find left-leaning students raised on the worldview of Noam Chomsky gleefully enlisting alongside the paleoconservatives on behalf of the Paul campaign? It would not amaze me to find an endorsement by Chomsky himself of Paul’s candidacy, or to find Tom Morello appearing with a reunited Rage Against the Machine at a major Ron Paul rally.
Greenfield also makes an interesting point about those now controversial newsletters, which seem to not concern Iowa Republicans one bit. Whether or not Paul wrote the entries or even knew of their contents is not the real issue, Greenfield maintains. Rather, he argues that they “won him some of his hard core following, and his disavowal of them represents another, that of the politician who knows how to play different constituencies and show a difference face to different groups.” So he argues that the people who support Paul are the issue, and not Paul himself — since he will remain a representative, and not go any further in his political career. Paul speaks to a “crazy-quilt patchwork of ideologies,” and one that Greenfield thinks has nowhere to go, but to fall apart the more attention they get.
Already, the entry last week by one of Paul’s old disgruntled associates, Eric Dondero, appearing at RightWingNews.com, reveals some of Paul’s contradictions in a stark fashion. Dondero says that Paul is not an anti-Semite, but when it comes to Israel,
He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.
In other words, whatever his personal view of individual Jews, Paul indeed shares the agenda of all anti-Semites in today’s world.
As to Paul’s foreign policy, Dondero makes the cogent point that Paul favors a foreign policy that most Republicans, indeed most Americans, find abhorrent. He writes:
Ron Paul is most assuredly an isolationist. He denies this charge vociferously. But I can tell you straight out, I had countless arguments/discussions with him over his personal views. For example, he strenuously does not believe the United States had any business getting involved in fighting Hitler in WWII. He expressed to me countless times, that “saving the Jews,” was absolutely none of our business. When pressed, he often times brings up conspiracy theories like FDR knew about the attacks of Pearl Harbor weeks before hand, or that WWII was just “blowback,” for Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy errors, and such.
To put it another way, Paul agrees with the theories Pat Buchanan spelled out in his various books: an isolationist ideology that harks back to the 30s and the works of Charles A. Beard, Harry Elmer Barnes and others who first propagated the theory that FDR got us into an unjust war through the back door of Pearl Harbor. So it is not too much of a surprise to find that Paul believes in various 9/11 truther conspiracy theories, and finds that like FDR, Bush and Cheney were lying the U.S. into another imperialist war.
Ron Paul indeed has nowhere to go. The more he speaks what he believes, the further his appeal will prove itself to be very, very narrow. So, let us hope that come Iowa caucus day, the weather is indeed splendid and not too cold.