Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

"Got to Watch Now"

So says Peggy Noonan about the now not-so-distant (though seemingly endless) primary campaign. This week, she argues, belonged to the Republicans between the debate and Fred Thompson’s long-awaited entry into the race. She seems underwhelmed by both Romney and Thompson for now, however, and says Guiliani needs to start showing us that he’s thoughtful (rather than simply indignant) about foreign policy. McCain--now that he’s seen to be less dangerous--draws out some justly deserved praise and the whole field is rightly admonished to stop snickering at Ron Paul. She argues: "When a thousand Republicans are in a room and one man of the eight on the stage takes a sharply minority viewpoint on a dramatic issue and half the room seems to cheer him, something’s going on." Huckabee, alone, seems to earn her unqualified praise. She wonders why he is not top-tier and wistfully speculates, "Maybe he is and we don’t know it."

See also John Podhoretz’s take on Fred’s entry into the race. It offers a good explanation of the "strategery" involved in the many camps.

Discussions - 49 Comments

I think she is fair to Ron Paul. His appeal has never been about his persona. It has always been about his ideas and his personal integrity in upholding them.

We don't refrain from snickering at people just because they have "personal integrity." Ron Paul is a great example of a man with integrity who is nonetheless a fool. Fools in the public arena, certainly when they are running for a higher office than they now have, deserve opprobrium. They deserve to be not only snickered at, but attacked. The fact that the "Paulestinians" can spam an online poll, or bring a lot of people (how many are Republicans, and how many of those are loyal Republicans) into an arena to make noise means nothing about the resonance of Paul's often-extreme views in the party. Furthermore, people will often applaud the statement of theoretical ideals without actually supporting either the messenger or his actual positions.

I have no sympathy for Ron Paul's ideas, but Noonan is right to notice that they will not be laughed out of the room. There is a time for laughing at silly people and their ideas . . . but it is not when 1/2 the room is applauding. Having just returned from a three week tour of much of the western US I will tell you that the ONLY bumper stickers and yard signs I saw anywhere were for Ron Paul. And I saw them while I was in Ohio too. It may be that this represents a weird cross-section of American political life and that Paul was able to marshal an audience to storm the hall at the debate. But hey, good for him for trying. He did it. A guy who does that deserves to be smacked down with arguments rather than snickers. The danger of not doing it this way--when he's garnered an audience--is that it makes it appear that the guy has credible arguments which cannot be so defeated. And it may be that the assembled contestants could not stand up to Paul on those terms. If that is the case, then woe betide us.

And may I say that the (front tier) Republican who does stand up to Paul on an intellectual level and smack him down in the way he deserves, will go a long way toward winning the general election. Paul at least offers the best among the arguments against the war. Defeat him and go a long way toward defeating Hillary's lamer and more confused arguments about America's place in the world.

Check out; Ron Paul comes in fourth behind Romney, Giuliani, and McCain for fundraising; people aren't just spamming polls, they're putting their money where their beliefs are.

Ron Paul cares about the Constitution, and the rule of law. Those ideas are more conservative than those put forth by any of the other Republican candidates. And he's absolutely right about the monetary policy and the Federal Reserve; politicians who fool around with our monetary policy end up robbing the middle class. It would be painful, initially, to switch to gold-backed currency (or some other fixed unit of account), but unless we reform ourselves in this area, fiat is nothing but an illusion, and we're headed for financial disaster as a nation--and that certainly isn't conducive to freedom.

I don't buy the "my country right or wrong" line that the other candidates insist on repeating...I want my country to be right. That's why I'm voting for Ron Paul.

Hillary Clinton takes a more hawkish line on Iraq than does Ron Paul.

This brings up an interesting if theoretical question. If the race came down to Clinton verus Paul, how would people here vote?

I think there exists a minority on "the right" would would subordinate conservative ideals generally to winning in Iraq. And a similar faction on "the left" who would vote for the reincarnation of Richard Nixon if it meant an immediate exit from Iraq.

Julie, what Ron Paul "deserves" is not the point. He's in public life, indeed on the national stage, claiming he can and should be president. He should not, therefore, be treated in exactly the manner he would deserve as a private citizen. His candidacy is dangerous and must be utterly marginalized. If that means mocking Paul or attacking him in ways that might not be justified were he a private citizen, so be it. His viewpoint on foreign policy is not just wrong, but dangerous. If his candidacy isn't nipped in the bud, it can damage the Republican national-security "brand" significantly. It can also further legitimize the left's pacifist/isolationist positions, by vividly demonstrating that not only leftists hold them. The political center is defined by the acceptability, or lack of acceptability, of certain extremes. If Paul's views aren't marginalized (not just answered or engaged, modes of response which concede legitimacy), they will become more popular and more "legitimate." It may be that Paul can be eliminated (in this sense) more effectively through argument only, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think he needs to be shamed, ridiculed, and turned into an object of contempt as well. Sad to say, these tactics and this psychology are large parts of serious politics -- like it or not. At times, they are called for. The fact that there are more Ron Paul stickers than stickers for any other candidate (if it's true, and I can believe it) is no argument at all for pulling our punches with Ron Paul. At this point, he is a minor, minor candidate in terms of numbers. We need to keep him that way. I suspect some people like Paul precisely because they hate politics and therefore will support only candidates who clearly have no chance (that way, they're not really in politics, just shouting). I would not assume every Paul sticker belongs to a Republican -- not that you do, but let's be sure not to. I would not assume, either, that every registered Republican is a Republican in any real sense. Nor that a wave of support, which Paul clearly has, indicates even a minimal amount of wisdom.

But David, I'm not for pulling punches with Paul. I'm for giving him harder ones--not because he deserves them--but because the argument does.

David - what is a "real" Republican?

To my mind, it's someone who's in favor of limited government, states' rights, who realizes that we are finite mortals with a Creator, who strives to live peaceably with all nations so far as is possible, and is generally pro-life. That's a real Republican. I have no use for Corporatist bigwigs who suckle at the power teat of the CFR and the Federal Reserve, and try to maintain a perpetual state of terror because it increases their power.

If these are dangerous ideas, so be it, but don't be surprised that they're gaining popularity. They're no more "dangerous" than those of the founders of the United States.

I detected some respect for Paul, and wanted to shoot that down. I respect him too, but only in a very limited way. In a political dogfight, we shouldn't necessarily express respect for an opponent who needs to be crushed -- it's gratuitous and can be counterproductive. I do agree with your larger point, that he needs to be hit harder on substance. I think the candidates are mostly willing to do this, but the "debate" formats we've seen don't allow much of that -- too little time, too many candidates sharing it.

David Frisk,

"It may be that Paul can be eliminated (in this sense) more effectively through argument only, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think he needs to be shamed, ridiculed, and turned into an object of contempt as well."

Thank you very much David for that very candid response. It will make great fodder for firing up the Ron Paul supporters. I will be e-mailing it to my Ron Paul e-mail groups and other significant Ron Paul supporting web sites. I'm sure that one will quickly make the rounds.

You can not just assert that Ron Paul's foreign policy views are dangerous as if that is a self-evident fact. It is in interventionist, pro-War la la land, but in the real world you have to actually go to the trouble of defending that position. I say that interventionism makes things more dangerous.

Julie, thanks for the call for a high minded debate, but I think talk of "smacking down" people is not healthy either.

The pro-War forces have never been able to articulate how fighting in Iraq makes us safer. The most articulate pro-War advocates are either people arguing for muddled headed democracy spreading (the neocons before things went bad) or advocates of a "larger war" against Islam which essentially amounts to pre-emptive genocide (Horowitz, Savage, SANE, etc.) (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Non-interventionism has been much more clearly articulated and defended by its supporters. So I would welcome a debate.

Those looking for an insight into the minds of members of the Nazi, Communist, or Democratic parties need only look at the remarks by David "All those who dissent from me must be extirpated" Frisk.

But he's quite an intellectual, or so he tells me.

Fair point, Red, but I mean it in the best (although properly spirited) sense. I do, of course, want people armed more with arguments than with cudgels; ballots rather than bullets.

Mr. Frisk, in comment seven you seem to imply that Dr. Paul is a pacifist/isolationist like some of the Left. This is a wrong implication.

Ron Paul is a non-interventionist. He believes in free trade and strong diplomacy, so he is not an isolationist. He believes in destroying those who dare to attack us (he voted in favor of invading Taliban Afghanistan), and he supports maintaining a strong national defense, so he is not a pacifist. He just does not believe that America should be playing "world police" or keeping so many of our troops everywhere. He also defines our military quite clearly-- it is something that is meant to destroy enemy governments, not coax democratic ones from the rubble.

And here is an interesting opinion piece about how Ron Paul's non-interventionist policy may change some of the American conscience on foreign policy, which is what I believe you lot seem to be alluding to being afraid of.

The Republicans are in pretty much the same place the Democrats were in 2004 -- looking for someone "electable." Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee don't fit that bill. Neither does Sam Brownback or Tom Tancredo.

The nomination now boils down to: Guiliani, Romney, McCain and Fred Thompson.

Personally, I think McCain is toast. He's got several things against him:

  • The immigration issue
  • His proximity to Ted Kennedy
  • His age ... he looks old and tired.

I wonder about Fred Thompson's ability to get by on telegenics. Beyond that, I'm unclear if he has anything substantial to offer. Being telegenic has value, but it generally can't stand up to close scrutiny. Reagan thrived because a) it was a different time, and b) he had substance behind the face. Does Fred Thompson? Time will tell.

That leaves Guiliani and Romney. The thing these two have going for them is a credible "anti-Bush" component. That's what this race will ultimately boil down to -- both D and R -- who offers the best change of course. "Stay the course" is not the formula in 2008. Guiliani and Romney both have significant weights around their ankles, as does Hillary.

Of the two, I suspect Guiliani has the best chance of picking up the critical "middle 10%." But can he pick up the conservative base? Romney is a little less well positioned to pick up the middle or the conservative base. His Mormonism might hurt him in evangelical circles. They, as a group, are frightfully narrow in their vision and their focus.

Don, you think that the evangelicals will tolerate Giulianis atheism more easily than Romneys Mormonism?

"Stay the course" is not the formula in 2008.

Then we have a problem, because that is all the "front runners" are offering.

John wrote: "you think that the evangelicals will tolerate Giuliani's atheism more easily than Romney's Mormonism?"

First, I doubt Guiliani is truly atheist. If memory serves, he is a somewhat lapsed Catholic. While I know this issue of "faith" is not on his sleeve, I've also never heard him utter anything remotely atheistic.

Second, I suspect evangelicals would tolerate Guiliani's form of quiet agnosticism more than Romney's Mormonism. I could be completely wrong here, but I suspect there's a percentage of evangelicals that can be persuaded to be suspicious of Romney and Mormonism, which many evangelicals would consider a "cult." They can be, as I said, a rather narrow and single-focused group.

When I said that "Stay the course is not the formula for 2008," what I meant was the key will be effective separation from the eight years of George W. Bush and his administration. Electing another Republican after eight years of a Republican holding the White House is hard enough. Doing so with any hint of being merely an extension of the last eight years would be impossible.

The Democrat nominee -- presumably Clinton -- will by definition be a "candidate of change." The issue for her will be whether or not she represents "too much change to stomach." The Republican candidate -- Guiliani or Romney -- will need to effectively separate himself from Bush. And that is hard to do graciously.

I'm largely in agreement with you, Don. But I don't think that individual personalities play as large a role as you seem to. The GOP needs to come up with a platform and identity which is appealing to the American people.

What does it stand for at present? An unpopular war abroad. And at home? It's hard to say what domestic policy issues the GOP stands for. It's law-and-order, small government, fiscally conservative, nationalistic credentials have been badly damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I don't see what can be put in their place though.

John wrote: "It's law-and-order, small government, fiscally conservative, nationalistic credentials have been badly damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I don't see what can be put in their place though."

It seems to me those credentials need to be re-established. But that won't be easy because there's no compelling evidence there's been any true repentance. I'm of the belief the Congress is darn near permanently Democrat going forward. It's not that they hold a monopoly on those credentials ... but they are very good at offering what the people want to hear, deep in their selfish hearts.

I'll disagree with you on personality and the presidential election. I think it plays more and more a role. The ability to convey the right balance of charm and leadership in short sound bites is what it's all about nowadays. I doubt very much that the middle 10% that decides elections pays much attention beyond superficial things. Except, perhaps, the extent to which the candidate satisfies the voters' selfish wishes.

I am not optimistic about the future of this country. The Democrats are woefully incapable of being serious and responsible, and the Republicans have so damaged themselves that it might take a generation to repair the damage.

Good Lord, I agree with Peggy Noonan. Huckabee is very likeable, he speaks to a very conventional common sense understanding of how government really works, he is quasi-socialist in a nice likeable southern way. He isn't blowing much fact he would ban smoking. I previously wrote that I would support Huckabee my libertarian principles be dammed. But I can't help to feel real excitment and energy about politics every time I watch a U-tube clip on Ron Paul. I love Austrian Economics...but object to them on Hegelian grounds...long story...and I swear that Ron Paul couldn't be a greater saint in this school of thought if Von Mises had annointed him personally.

The man said that his only regret was that he had not done enough to advance the cause of liberty, and he is the only candidate that could say something like that and mean it fully...

Ron Paul is the man who should and would win if the american people actually gave a damn about liberty... In this republican primary there are only two people whom Republicans who care about honesty and faithfulness to ideas should support: Ron Paul because government is too big and inefficient or Mike Huckabee because government is a good and is capable of doing good.

Ron Paul is answering an exhortation to free us from the barbarians, and Mike Huckabee is telling us that the barbarians are good decent people that care about the welfare of the community, and the world in general(i.e. we have an obligation to the Iraqi people).

I don't want a candidate in between...I don't want Republicans to talk like Ron Paul and act like Huckabee. If they are going to act like Huckabee they need to get some pride and defend big government on its merits.

It is time for Republicans to wake up to the fact that voters aren't going to buy the limited government speech anymore, it is just too incongruent with the actual state of affairs. My Heglian objection to Misesian Economics: it is so incongruent with the reality that it degenerates completly into an exercise in that which is never seen, and cannot be seen, its like wondering how dominant Carl Lewis could have been in the track and field world had he worked out more and ate less junk food(maybe he would have lost ballance and joy in his life...had a mental breakdown and given it all up?) The United States is the greatest nation in the world with the greatest government...but the fact is that this government is essentially socialist, or as Fukuyama would put it isothymic/megalothymic. The age of small inobtrusive government is over, the demos has voted in favor of a proactive government that seeks to cure all the ills of its citizenry and the world in general within the limits only of material scarcity...and barely within those limits given the reality of deficit spending. Ron Paul is fighting against the inevitable isothymic(welfare state) and megalothymic(war state) elements of "liberal democracy", he is proposing a return to different modes and orders...he is proposing that we take the promises of Classical liberalism and the Manchester school seriously. Ron Paul is revolutionary in that he actually means it.

Ron Paul is saying that it is possible to live without the Department of Education...without the department of Homeland Security...without the CIA...without the FBI...without the IRS...that government can be funded without an income tax! And he means it... how scary is that to thousands upon thousands of bureaucrats? Leviathan has created too much dependency for Ron Paul to ever win...even if he did win the presidency he would be thwarted at every step. If Ron Paul won the Republican nomination, if Ron Paul then beat HRC, if Ron Paul then achieved half of his goals...he would be a Machiavellian prince of the highest order.

There is something about Ron Paul that just gets my blood going. Gets me excited, gives me hope. I will tell you what it is...this is a man who is saying that the United States has given up the ten commandments(the constitution) for the golden cow(the welfare state). And the thing of it is...he isn't lying. Ron Paul is popular because he is voicing objections from outside of the standard Ontological structures of power. What do I mean by this? The premises both moral and rational that determine what counts and does not count as an argument. As Machiavelli might say the standard by which one is praised or blamed. Huckabee says the standard is results oriented validated and achieved by "vertical governance"...text book MBA stuff...But Ron Paul is a cheater. He is insisting that the United States should be playing checkers when everyone else is saying that they should be playing chess. Ron Paul is a cheater because he doesn't agree to the rules of the game... his opinions are outside the mainstream and do not seek to validate themselves to the mainstream standard.

Exactly what David Frisk says when he says: "The political center is defined by the acceptability, or lack of acceptability, of certain extremes. If Paul's views aren't marginalized (not just answered or engaged, modes of response which concede legitimacy), they will become more popular and more "legitimate." It may be that Paul can be eliminated (in this sense) more effectively through argument only, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think he needs to be shamed, ridiculed, and turned into an object of contempt as well. Sad to say, these tactics and this psychology are large parts of serious politics -- like it or not."

David Frisk is saying that Machiavellian tactics should be employed to silence Ron Paul. But David Frisk is a horrible Machiavellian, first of all because by saying that he opens himself up to exactly what Red Phillips says in 11, and second of all because a proper understanding of the Prince and Machiavelli's work in general leads one to the view that true immortal glory belongs to those who supplant the dominant Ontologies. In other words true statesmanship resides in the RoNPAulReVoLUtION!

In addition to this I will put foward this thesis... HRC is the Machiavellian princess par excellence...she has already situated herself flawlessly within the standards of reasonable legitimacy. That which is believed to be reasonable by statistical aggregate is the position of HRC, by the logic of what counts as an argument under the current realities she is unbeatable. That is HRC will be able to argue more consistantly and persuasively than anyone else because the grounds for the assignment of praise and blame belong to her. "Isothymia" and "Megalothimia" belong to liberal democracy and she is capable of being both for the warfare(she voted for the war) and welfare state(she voted for more spending) when and however prudence dictates.

Lets put it this way... when Hillary Clinton wants to ridicule and marginalize a view she has a much easier time of it than David Frisk or any Republican would, on the flip side when it comes to argueing about the welfare state since both sides accept an isothymic seems much less contrived and more sincere comming from a Democrat. By the standards of what currently counts as an argument you would have to run Huckabee up against HRC and I think she would still have the ability to manuver reasonableness to her side.

In other words the grounds of reasonableness upon which all the major candidates(not to include Ron Paul) jockey distinctly favors HRC.

To use a poker analogy it is not necessarily the best static hand that matches up best against another static hand. AQ is preferable to 67 suited heads up by 60% to 39% with .5 chance of draw. So if Guiliani is AQ would be preferable to Ron Paul by 20%. But supposing that HRC is similar to Guiliani on foundational arguments/logic it is my hypothesis that HRC would be something like AK in which case Guiliani would be dominated and the hand odds for AK vs AQ are 69% HRC 26% Guiliani with 4.5% draw... so HRC stands a 43% advantage of beating Guiliani...but HRC's AK against the 67 of Ron Paul is the very similar 60% 40% breakdown. So HRC might stand only a 20% advantage against Ron Paul.

In politics as in poker it is my contention that one should not enter into an encounter when one has a hand that is dominated...without disrupting or otherwise challenging the orthodoxies, or shifting the grounds for praise or blame the Republican challenger will find himself holding AQ against HRC's AK, and he will have to spike a queen to win...advantage Democrats...big time. On the other hand Ron Paul may more successfully challenge the democrats with a hand like 67, because he is not matching up with what they may expect to be facing.

As a poker insight to the Republican primaries... If the 4 Major Candidates are all holding AQ and Ron Paul is holding 67...then Ron Paul is 62% to win and the others are a combined 33% to tie with fluke wins accounted for in the 1% statistical discrepency. Supposing even that Ron Paul is a horrible hand like 8-4 if he were up against two candidates holding KQ they would all be exactly 33.3% to win...

But anyways I have digressed, what I wanted to point out howhever was that support for Ron Paul is not contingent upon the fact that he stands no chance...In my way of thinking Ron Paul probably stands a greater chance than anyone else because he is the only one argueing outside the ontological structure...and therefore the only one positioning himself to not find himself heads up in a position where he is dominated. The reason why half the audience is clapping is in a very real way akin to hand matchup odds in No Limit holdem'.

About John Lewis: A combat veteran turned proffesional poker player...working on a Masters in Economics...enjoys studying the great lawgivers. Appreciates the use of this forum to clarify his thoughts on matters different from the subjects themselves.

John Lewis wrote: "Ron Paul is the man who should and would win if the American people actually gave a damn about liberty."

But they don't. They care about themselves. Increasingly, to the exclusion of all else.

"Liberty" is an abstract concept; one take for granted. Receiving something for nothing (or so they believe) from the government will get them to pull the lever.

Don, I must say that your analysis of the Romney/Giulini thing is weak. If either of those two is our man, I'll just stay home because my vote would be like throwing a handful of mud on a rupturing dam. Neither is inspiring to the GOP base, and both have huge personal problems that make them unelectable. Fortunately, I don't think either will win. The GOP, with the exception of Bob Dole, has nominated very good and electable candidates for a long time, which is exactly why I think that Mike Huckabee will be the next President.

John Lewis said this:

"But anyways I have digressed, ...."

John, I have this image of you leaving the house to get a pack of gum at the corner store, and coming home three months later.

Have a good day, my friend

11: Red, be my guest. Send it around to your fellow Paulestinians. On the condition, however, that you inform us when Paul has amassed, say, 100 delegates.

12: John, nothing I wrote is remotely totalitarian. It's simply aggressive politics. I never suggested that "all those who dissent from me must be extirpated." I do plead guilty to considerable impatience with fools who preach a complete lack of difference between the two parties and clearly welcome the defeat of the Republicans in 2008. Also, how can you call Giuliani an "atheist"? You have no basis for this.

21: Mr. Lewis (Professor Lewis?), I certainly did not advocate that we "silence" Ron Paul. I advocated that we make him very unpopular and prevent his "ideas" on foreign policy from catching on. There's quite a difference. If that means trying to "silence" him, anyone who urged aggressive political tactics and rhetoric would be in violation of the First Amendment, would he not? Which would go a long way toward abolishing politics. Your cheap reference to me as a "Machiavellian" should impress no one, though it undoubtedly did impress some.

I think that Mike Huckabee will be the next President.

Huckabee manages the difficult feat of making Giuliani and Romney look good. His latest idea was that we need to ban all cigarette smoking in America.

The man is offensive to the fiscal conservatives, the social conservatives, and the libertarians.

Don, the problem is that the GOP seems to be focusing exclusively on that 10% and is ignoring or is actually hostile to the other 40% of people who make up their base of support.

No nice smile or pretty face can convert that position into an election victory.

On the condition, however, that you inform us when Paul has amassed, say, 100 delegates.

That's right David, because right and wrong is determined by majority vote. Whatever. Some of us still believe in fighting for principle. Where has prudent/practical politics gotten us? A three trillion dollar budget, that's where.

I agree with John in 26...there are things not to like about Huckabee...but at least Huckabee is a big government conservative in big government conservative clothes...with everyone else I am left wondering...Grandma what long nose you have. So I would tolerate Huckabee on the grounds that he isn't trying to get one by me.

In reply to David Frisk I made it clear that I was a proffesional poker player and Econ grad student not a professor. I make my living on the strength of my coup d'oeil judgements and the blunders of my opponents. There is nothing cheap about Machiavelli, at least not in my book. When I call HRC Machiavellian I mean to say that she is a formidable opponent. When I call Ron Paul Machiavellian I am implying that he is attempting to completly alter the the modern arguments landscape. Ron Paul is "high" Machiavellianism, HRC is "low" Machiavellianism. I don't disagree with you at all in regards to the threat posed by Ron Paul. I also don't disagree with this statement: "The political center is defined by the acceptability, or lack of acceptability, of certain extremes. If Paul's views aren't marginalized (not just answered or engaged, modes of response which concede legitimacy), they will become more popular and more "legitimate." It may be that Paul can be eliminated (in this sense) more effectively through argument only, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think he needs to be shamed, ridiculed, and turned into an object of contempt as well." Nor do I disagree with this statement: "Sad to say, these tactics and this psychology are large parts of serious politics -- like it or not."

Serious politics is Machiavellian. HRC practices serious politics. HRC practices serious politics better than Republicans do.

If you read my comments in 21 I make it clear that I am not trying to link you to Machiavelli in a cheap way. I say: "But David Frisk is a horrible Machiavellian,".

By the way Red Phillips I think Ron Paul will get 100 delegates. Ron Paul has a chance to win. Ron Paul will win because americans are ready to hear his message! Ron Paul will sucessfully turn the tables on the dominant liberal ontologies. The Ron Paul revolution is potent...because it is an actual revolution. The message is right for the times. Ron Paul voters aren't listening to CBS or NBC or CNN or Fox news...we don't care who the media front runners are...statistics aren't going to stop us from going to the polls...we know that in life there are three kinds of lies: lies, damnned lies and statistics! The annointed princes of the "tyrannical lawgivers" can choke on the ashes of their false gods, the message they have is as bland and as impotent as the eunuchs they are.

The major media and people like David Frisk would have us Hegelianize all reason such that the ideals of conservatism only find manifestation within the manifold of the Republican party. But the internet has liberated thinking from its previous ousioutic structures. No longer can media outlets and talking heads heard the sheep to the predestined eunuchial front runners.

It is long past time to say: screw Hegel! We are tired of accepting the validity of principles filtered and distorted by institutions.

Democrats and Republicans alike are fed up with unresponsive, hypocritical and dishonest congressmen. The Ron Paul revolution will tap into this discontent. It has tapped into it.

As a matter of fact I have a $20,000 bankroll enough to live without playing poker for a while. I think I am going to go volunteer my services to the Ron Paul Revolution.

Let me break it to you this way...if the Ron Paul Revolution isn't possible then their is no hope for principled change. Politics is like an arrow shot from a bow and we are all dust motes leaning around a cylinder in the hopes that we can change the trajectory of world history.

I will go fight for Ron Paul...for the power of ideas...Fortuna will be conquered!

John Lewis,

I thought you were a soldier? When did you become a pro poker player?

Dude, stick to poker.

Clint wrote: "The GOP, with the exception of Bob Dole, has nominated very good and electable candidates for a long time, which is exactly why I think that Mike Huckabee will be the next President."

Good luck with that. I believe the chances of that happening are down in the low single digits.

For the GOP, 2008 is shaping up to be unlike any previous election cycle in memory. The party is coming off an extended period of majority rule, and is coming off eight years of the presidency. The party is reeling from a perception of having abandoned its principles. In other words, the GOP is in a severe downward cycle right now. Severe. Mike Huckabee? I'll need some help understanding what he offers that will fuel 51% of the voters to pull the lever for him, in the face of all else the GOP has going against it.

John wrote: "the problem is that the GOP seems to be focusing exclusively on that 10% and is ignoring or is actually hostile to the other 40% of people who make up their base of support."

In a sense I agree that leading GOP candidates are looking beyond the primaries to the general. So too is Hillary. It's a wise move. Fodder offered up exclusively for the base will come back to haunt in the generals. Particularly in an era where the press is as hostile towards Republicans as I've seen it in 30 years. If the base doesn't feel "loved" they better get used to a Democrat majority for a long, long, long ... long time.

But who knows ... perhaps the country is in the mood for a fire-breathing conservative. It would be quite a feat to survive the blistering onslaught the MSM is going to dish up for such a candidate.

Ron Paul. Hahahahaha . . . The man lacks the most important virtue a statesman can have: prudence.

Paul, I started playing poker while in the Army because that is about all there is to do in Lawton, Oklahoma. The indians are getting revenge on the white man with this Casino business! Then I discovered cashed in a couple big tournaments...then I realized how cheap rent was here in Oklahoma and figured if I was going to play online poker I might as well save on costs by staying in Oklahoma once I got out...but I only recently got out(last week)of the Army and am still technically in the Army...just on terminal leave. Oct 1, 2007 is my four year mark and that is good enough for me. I am not a real professional poker player...I have gone up to Tulsa for the Oklahoma State Championships, and been down to Biloxi for the WPT once, yet I have never even been to Vegas. I don't have the bankroll yet to withstand that kind of variance..., but I earn enough to pay all my bills grinding out the 1-2 and 2-5 no limit games. Inevitably I will probably run bad and go broke...or run really well and think I am better than I am and then go broke moving up limits...or run well for a really long time but get bored and go join some idealistic cause:) Or I will head out to the casino and end up at an afterhours homegame that gets robbed...all distinct possibilities. Or I will go out to get a piece of gum...In any case one thing leads to the it always has with me. So far I have swung between $16.02-$50,000. You are constantly re-evaluating your thinking when you sustain these kinds of swings in poker. The game is brutal and unforgiving, and I like it.

"Ron Paul. Hahahahaha . . . The man lacks the most important virtue a statesman can have: prudence."
Taking AQ up against AK is less prudent than taking 67 up against either hand. So tell me Andrew in what fashion is Ron Paul lacking prudence?

re-read Machiavelli's Prince Andrew, you missed some important points, if not entire chapters. It is the snickering and laughing at Ron Paul that is imprudent. It is not the case that one cannot be prudent and principled simultaneously. The entire jist of Machiavelli's prince is establishing new modes and orders in light of which your actions are seen and praised as principled. My argument is that in the United States our political climate or modes and orders stand ready to praise and recognize as principled/reasonable arguments the baseline positions of HRC. Therefore a prudent whose desire is winning the presidency should work hard to change the hearts and minds of the people. Prudence is knowing the situation and acting accordingly. Prudence is not necessarily risk adverse...a candidate like Ron Paul cannot afford to be passive. Therefore it is prudent for Ron Paul to be impetuous, but likewise prudent for HRC to be charming and affable.

Prudence in poker is tight- aggressive play, sometimes it is even loose-aggressive...but it is almost always aggressive. I would suggest that prudence in politics is also generally tight-aggressive, of course it goes without saying that you have to be able to switch gears. If you watch the debates the only two candidates that are saying anything are Ron Paul and Mike maybe the others believe they are sufficiently "front-runners" that it would be imprudent to get aggressive unecessarily and risk saying anything that might offend a demographic...perhaps... but I think this tight-passive play on the part of the "front runners" is misguided and imprudent. It is especially imprudent to snicker at Ron Paul when he suggests that he is a defender of the constitution.

Does anyone else think Huckabee and McCain are plotting? McCain is sort of the exception to the rule I can see why he is playing it quiet/tight passive for the time being...sooner or later he is going to come alive with a bold message or an idea, right??

John Lewis, I believe our understanding of Machiavelli is similar, but our application different. You claim that the country is essentially ready to take the final steps into the HRC mold of progressive liberalism, but then claim that because of this Ron Paul should continue his crusade, not tone it down a bit. With the exception of his foreign policy, I largely agree with Dr. Paul. However, if the country is, as you claim, on the verge of what can only be called socialism, then Ron Paul is not going to win the hearts and minds of those who are center-left nor even many on the center-right. If Ron Paul were truly prudent, he would work his way into the good graces of the powers that be on today's right and thus actually have an impact (he could become the Howard Dean of the right). Thereby, he would obtain the behind-the-scenes power and influence to make the changes he preaches. I think Machiavelli put a lot of emphasis on success.

Andrew: Yes, exactly. The pretentious references to Machiavellianism, and above all to Ron Paul as a Machiavellian of the right kind, are simply laughable.

Ron Paul on O'Reilly today: Iran's efforts to obtain the Bomb are fine. O'Reilly to Ron Paul: "You're living in the Land of Oz." Is it what Paul "deserves"? Yes, 100 percent. Is it how other Republicans should be talking about Paul, and how they should be talking to him? Yes, absolutely. Does this preclude a detailed refutation of Paul with logic and facts? Absolutely not, and I never suggested that personal denigration was the only appropriate means of dealing with this malignancy in our party. Just that it's one of them.

David Frisk,

Ron Paul is running to be President of the United States. Not dictator of the Middle East. The purpose of the American military is to protect America, and that is it. Not democratize the Middle East, or stabilize the Middle East or whatever. All our meddling over there makes us less safe.

Ron Paul did not say their efforts to get the bomb are "fine." In fact he said it concerns him. He is just not playing into all the fear mongering, and thank God there is someone with a level head.

Why in these conversations (O'Reilly, the last debate, etc.) does Israel always come up? Where in the Constitution does it say America is supposed to defend Israel? The defense of Israel is ENTIRELY the responsibility of Israel. If Iran presents a threat to Israel then Israel ought to do something about it. Not us.

Your entire mindset is interventionist and you can't think outside that box. We shouldn't have a single troop in the Middle East, and we shouldn't give any of those countries a dime in foreign aid. Our only interest there is the free flow of oil. But oil is flowing freely to 100 other countries who don't have troops there.

If Paul is living in the Land of Oz, O'Reilly is living in the Land of Chicken Little. Always in fear. Death and destruction are always just around the corner. Always in need of an enemy.

Bring on your ridicule. I love jousting with big government, liberal interventionists who have deluded themselves into thinking they are conservatives.

Ron Paul said Iran is acting "logically and defensively."
He also urges us to listen to, and follow the advice of, Osama bin Laden's explanation for 9-11. Apparently you think it's fine if Israel is pushed into the sea. Thanks for revealing your true colors, "Red."

"Thanks for revealing your true colors,"

Truly the last refuge of a scoundrel. True colors indeed. I don’t think we should defend South Korea or Taiwan either. What does that say about my “true colors?” I don't want Israel pushed into the sea. But it is not America's job to defend them. Do you think it is? Then so state and explain why.

If OBL masterminded 9/11, isn't his explanation for it important? I would call that straight from the horse's mouth. He mentions American decadence, but his main concern is clearly our foreign policy.

In what sense haven't Iran's recent actions been logical and defensive? American politicians from both parties have repeatedly been denouncing the Iranian regime for years (justly so, but that's beside the point). Now U.S. forces are occupying countries on either side of Iran. How would you expect Tehran to react in these circumstances? How would the United States react to the presence of Chinese forces in Canada and Mexico?

John Moser,

You left something out of your analogy. America is "exceptional," and therefore the normal rules don't apply to us.

Well, I think one can still think of this country is exceptional in many ways without having unrealistic expectations of how nation-states act in an anarchic international system.

Red, I'm not accusing you of anti-Semitism, though I suspect it's not unusual among Ron Paul supporters. I'm accusing you of not caring what happens to the Israels, South Koreas, and Taiwans of the world. The fact that you don't care about any of these three countries is even more offensive to me than the fact that you don't care about Israel, which is offensive enough. There are civilized, human governments and brutal, inhumane ones. America does indeed have both practical and moral obligations to use its power to improve the world. This is true even if we care only about ourselves, as the Paulestinians tend to urge. Note: I don't say you "want" Israel pushed into the sea. Your using this term is just a cheap dodge. What I say is: You don't really care whether it is. And that's bad enough.

"Note: I don't say you "want" Israel pushed into the sea."

OK. That is fair, but neither did I say I "don't care" about Israel, South Korea, or Taiwan. As a supporter of secession, I actually care very much about Taiwan esp. and wish China would acknowledge their independence.

"America does indeed have both practical and moral obligations to use its power to improve the world."

This is where we strongly disagree. An American Congress or President can not morally order our troops into places we have no authority or Constitutional mandate to be. Nor do I think the world is generally improved by "power." "Power" more often than not, esp. exogenous, imposed power, generally mucks things up.

In fact, I believe this is one of the fundamental observations of conservatism. Order arises spontaneously, and is generally not imposed by philosophers, know-it-alls, or foreigners. This order arises from the complicated interaction of many, many factors and forces. The order may not be what we would consider fair or just, but it is an order of sorts. You can not just mess with this order and impose a foreign or extrinsic order and not expect the law of unintended consequences to take effect. It is the conceit of liberalism that it can discern from reason alone what is the right and good and just society and then impose that on backwards thinking traditional societies. This always has the effect of destroying those traditional societies. Sometimes perhaps for some good, but always at the price of much human suffering and sacrifice. Slow change, not revolutionary change, is generally preferable and less destabilizing.

Please explain to me how exporting revolution at gun point is conservative?

Red, in the real world, your "wishes" won't go very far. That's my point.
Let me clarify what I said about improving the world. We have an obligation to address extreme injustices. That does not mean a general obligation to go to war against them, by no means. It means a general obligation to use our political and financial clout, and our ability to give aid. To use these things, of course, selectively and prudently. Not to make a perfect world, which is neither possible nor remotely our obligation. But to play a constructive role, which few others can on any large scale. The point is not to create a new order, but to prevent the existing order from collapsing, and to improve it when possible. To suggest that true conservatives must share your minimalist foreign policy is utterly wrong. Minimalist foreign policy is compatible with conservatism, but also with socialism and, for lack of a better word, nihilism. Conservatives can be either minimalists or believers in American power. To suggest that conservatives are necessarily anti-"power" is ludicrous. That would be libertarians. And none of what I have said denies the essentially slow and organic nature of progress. Progress isn't hasty, or non-organic, just because America sometimes tries to take a helpful role therein.

By the way, Red, isn't the idea that the United States is capable of behaving other than a traditional great power--that is, seeking to amass power, and forming alliances and waging war toward that end, just as every great power since ancient times has done--itself an expression of American exceptionalism? Exceptionalism is certainly what Jefferson had in mind when he warned Americans to avoid "foreign entanglements."

I wasn't trying to claim Ron Paul is Machiavellian but rather trying to show he lacked prudence. I clearly made the point poorly, and, in fact, I think we agree.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL:

Warning: include(/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2007/09/got-to-watch-now.php on line 1766

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/sp/php7.2/lib/php') in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2007/09/got-to-watch-now.php on line 1766