By Brian Doherty
Have you heard about Ron Paul, a philosophically libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination who seems to be ahead right now in first-caucus state Iowa? Herewith, some recent reports about him and his goings-on.
*New CNN poll has Ron Paul doing as well against Obama as any other GOP candidate with "all respondents" (though 2 points less well than Romney with registered voters) and doing better than any other GOP candidate with non-whites against Obama (at 25 percent), and beating Obama himself in certain key demographics (like over-65 and independent--Paul's even pulling 10 percent of Democrats against Obama).
The Paul campaign sums up some good news for them in the poll:
When compared to other Republican presidential hopefuls in a general election matchup against Obama, Paul does best among the following population segments: males; persons ages 18 to 34; persons under 50 years of age; persons earning less than $50k per year; persons who have attended college; crossover Democrats; self-identified liberals; self-described moderates; residents of the Northeast and Midwest geographic regions; and those residing in urban areas.
*John Nichols, a good antiwar writer from the Nation, speculates why the Republican establishment is so peeved with their new Iowa frontrunner, complete with some very intelligent history lessons for the GOP, starring one of my favorite Old Rightists, Warren Buffett's father Howard:
if [Paul] wins the Iowa Republican Caucus vote on January 3—a real, though far from certain, prospect—the party bosses will have to do everything in their power to prevent Paul from reasserting the values of the “old-right” Republicans who once stood, steadily and without apology, in opposition to wars of whim and assaults on individual liberty.
Make no mistake, the party bosses are horrified at the notion that a genuine conservative might grab the Iowa headlines from the false prophets.....
Actually, Paul’s notion of foreign policy is in line with that of conservatives used to believe. The congressman is often referred to as a libertarian, and he has certainly toiled some in that ideological vineyard. But the truth is that his politics descend directly from those of former Ohio Senator Robert “Mr. Republican” Taft and former Nebraska Congressman Howard Buffett—old-right opponents of war and empire who served in the Congress in the 1940s and 1950s and who, in Taft’s case, mounted credible bids for the party’s presidential nomination in 1940, 1948 and finally in 1952. In all three campaigns, Taft opposed what he described as the “Eastern establishment” of the party—the Wall Streeters who, he pointedly noted, had little in common with Main Streeters....
Buffett, the father of billionaire Warren, opposed military interventionism during the cold war era, declaring on the floor of the House: “Even if it were desirable, America is not strong enough to police the world by military force. If that attempt is made, the blessings of liberty will be replaced by coercion and tyranny at home. Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. Persuasion and example are the methods taught by the Carpenter of Nazareth, and if we believe in Christianity we should try to advance our ideals by his methods. We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.”...
Paul’s ideological clarity scares the wits out of the Republican mandarins who peddle the fantasy that the interventionism, the assaults on civil liberties and the partnerships that they have forged with multinational corporations and foreign dictators represent anything akin to true conservatism.....
....while the party establishment and its media echo chamber reject the Main Street conservatism of the Taft’s and Buffetts, there are many grassroots Republicans in Iowa towns like Independence and Liberty Center (where Paul campaign signs are very much in evidence) who find Paul’s old-right conservatism quite appealing.....
That scares the Republican bosses who currently maintain the party concession on behalf of the Wall Streeters. But it, if the polls are to be believed, it quite intrigues the folks on Main Street who may be waking up to the fact that the “conservatism” of a Newt Gingrich or a Mitt Romney is a sham argument designed to make the rich richer and to make the rest of us pay for wars of whim and crony-capitalist corruption.
*In Time, Joe Klein admits that our current governing situation is a mess but can't quite accept the libertarian radicalism of Paul's solutions. Still, he concludes:
It’s these sorts of times that raise up people with simple answers: ideologues and demagogues. Paul is an ideologue and — we’re lucky — an entirely honorable one. His is an important voice. It helps frame the debate; it helps keep his opponents honest. The big surprise is that the harsh measures he advocates seem almost a comfort in the sea of blather that is inundating Iowans this week. But, I suppose, the real story here is, finally, the total discomfort with the sort of no-risk, no-sacrifice nonsense that politicians have been selling for the past 40 years.
*Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass mocks the GOP's Ron Paul denial.
*Paul campaign doing huge ad buys in New Hampshire. The ad they are most relying on:
*The Wall Street Journal critiques Paul's money-where-his-mouth-is investment portfolio:
We’ve never seen a more unorthodox portfolio than Ron Paul’s...
According to data available through his 2010 “Form A” financial disclosure statement, filed last May, Rep. Paul’s portfolio is valued between $2.44 million and $5.46 million. (Congressional disclosures are given in ranges, not precise amounts.)
Most members of Congress, like many Americans, hold some real estate, a few bonds or bond mutual funds, some individual stocks and a bundle of stock funds. Give or take a few percentage points, a typical Congressional portfolio might have 10% in cash, 10% in bonds or bond funds, 20% in real estate, and 60% in stocks or stock funds.
But Ron Paul’s portfolio isn’t merely different. It’s shockingly different.
Yes, about 21% of Rep. Paul’s holdings are in real estate and roughly 14% in cash. But he owns no bonds or bond funds and has only 0.1% in stock funds. Furthermore, the stock funds that Rep. Paul does own are all “short,” or make bets against, U.S. stocks....
The remainder of Rep. Paul’s portfolio – fully 64% of his assets – is entirely in gold and silver mining stocks....
Rep. Paul appears to be a strict buy-and-hold investor who rarely trades; he has held many of his mining stocks since at least 2002...you can say this for Ron Paul: In investing, as in politics, he has the courage of his convictions.
*Paul's beliefs about the Federal Reserve and monetary policy are mocked rather fecklessly by Salon, the kind of "economic reporting" by someone who clearly has no idea about the line of reasoning behind the slogans he's parroting, who at the same time notes how awfully influential they've become.
*The Hill declares Paul's Iowa campaign team the best.
*Auburn University bars a Ron Paul sign from a dorm window, in what the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education considers an illicit viewpoint-related selective enforcement of policy.
And most importantly, you can pre-order on Amazon my forthcoming book on Ron Paul.