Over at Making Light, I’ve been taking part in a spirited discussion of the Ron Paul Phenomenon. It’s good to know I’m not the only person baffled by the popularity of this Libertarian Kook (and among otherwise liberal folk, too!) Seriously, do we need another religious nut from Texas with a hard on for an unrestrained Free Market in the White House? Just because he’s ostensibly against the Iraq War doesn’t make him sane. It just makes him the most lucid weirdo in the GOP.*
I was all set to let it go– after all, Ron Paul hasn’t got a chance of winning the GOP nod, since he’s not for torture or inventing a time machine for the sole purpose of nuking Iran last Tuesday (all positions espoused by the likely candidate, Rudy Giuliani). But then Glen Greenwald had to jump in and defend Ron Paul’s honor:
It has become fashionable among certain commentators to hurl insults at Ron Paul such as ” huge weirdo,” “ fruitcake,” and the like. Interestingly, the same thing was done to another anti-war medical doctor/politician, Howard Dean, back in 2003, as Charles Krauthammer infamously pronounced with regard to Dean that “it’s time to check on thorazine supplies.” Krauthammer subsequently said that “[i]t looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again.” For a long time now, I’ve heard a lot of people ask: “where are the principled conservatives?” — meaning those on the Right who are willing to oppose the constitutional transgressions and abuses of the Bush administration without regard to party loyalty. A “principled conservative” isn’t someone who agrees with liberals on most issues; that would make them a “principled liberal.” A “principled conservative” is someone who aggressively objects to the radicalism of the neocons and the Bush/Cheney assault on our constitution and embraces a conservative political ideology. That’s what Ron Paul is, and it’s hardly a surprise that he holds many views anathema to most liberals. That hardly makes him a “fruitcake.”
You’re right Glen. What makes Ron Paul a fruitcake is his desire to shut down the Department of Education, revoke Civil Rights, return us to the Gold Standard and use Letters of Marque and Reprisal to catch terrorists. His bid to defend the right to burn flags by proposing an amendment to make burning flags illegal and then arguing against his own amendment is just… no that’s nutty, too. Never mind.
I can disagree with a principled conservative. I’ve had civil discussions with reasonable pro-lifers, advocates of small government and even Hawks of a sensible nature. But no one in the current Republican Party is a principled conservative. Torture Porn enthusiast? You bet! Belligerent Jesus freak? Most of them. Closeted homosexual? very likely. Reasonable does not describe Ron Paul and conservative does only because it’s devalued into a catchall phrase for the assorted group of crazies and drooling fiends that define themselves primarily by being against evolution. Not the concept, but the practice. The GOP wants us to become static individuals, living in some fantasy Beaver Cleaver world of their own feverish devising. And Ron Paul is right htere, playing the friendly family doctor who only stays friendly so long as you shut up and do as your betters tell you.
Ron Paul views women as baby making machines. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. He wants to put us back on the fucking Gold standard! The Gold standard! And just because misogyny, sex-phobia and Jesus are planks of the GOP platform doesn’t make them reasonable areas of dispute. That we accept it as such just illustrates how far around the bend we’ve slid when it comes to acceptable discourse in politics.
Ron Paul may not be genuine Presidential material. But he does serve a useful purpose: dragging the boundaries of discourse way off into Cloud Cuckoo Land, where it becomes acceptable and even normal to debate the definition of torture, how much we hate and fear Muslims and whether or not we should revoke women’s rights to vote and control their own reproductive systems, or just banish them outright to the kitchen, along with minorities, so they can make the Good Doctor a home cooked meal and let him talk Man Talk with brandy and cigars, like he thinks he should.