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Although not many people in high places may notice what I’m doing, I’d like to ask the following questions to three of the surviving GOP presidential contenders. First, why did Mitt Romney, as late as 2002, respond to a questionnaire from Planned Parenthood indicating that he fully supported Roe v. Wade and favored state funding for abortion?

According to his stated positions at the time, which were reported in the Boston Globe, Romney also favored allowing minors to obtain abortions without parental consent. Whatever one may think about these issues, Romney has been flip-flopping on social questions more often than he wants us to believe. Supposedly he had moved from wiggling somewhere to the left of Teddy Kennedy on abortion, while running unsuccessfully against him for the Senate in 1994, to being a “family-issues conservative” a few years later. By 2002, according to this frequently recounted narrative, he had undergone l sea change. As the Santorum campaign tried to point out during the recent Michigan primary, this change is not at all evident from Romney’s record; or else this change came later, when Romney’s presidential ambitions became stronger and he had to contend for votes from the Religious Right.

Second, if Santorum is as gloomy about the moral state of his country as he appears to be from his campaign speeches, how do we explain that he switches gears abruptly when he discusses America’s role in the world? Then we become a shining city on a hill and a chosen people required to bring the human rights we exemplify to the rest of humanity. This schizophrenia is characteristic not only of Santorum but of those Religious Right spokesmen and politicians I’ve been listening to. I wish they could make up their minds. Either we’re going to hell in a hand basket; or we’re so glowingly virtuous that we have a mission to make everyone exactly like us. Which is it?

Actually it’s both. There is a tendency in American Protestantism, going back to the 17th century, to depict one’s community and finally, one’s country as both sinful and saintly, depending on the lesson being taught or the goal being sought. Although a Catholic, Santorum is seizing on the same mixed rhetoric, depending on the policy under consideration. Thus we are reprehensible in some social issues but also God’s Elect when it comes to plunging into foreign wars. Another obvious factor here is the neoconservative influence on the GOP and the Religious Right, which is exercised through Fox, Wall Street Journal and other such vehicles of opinion. The Religious Right, which I have the impression is especially addicted to Republican opinion sources, is quite likely to absorb the neoconservatives’ big idea, which is a continuing crusade for democracy against all antidemocrats.

ORDER IT NOW

This idea fits the notion of American exceptionalism and the religiously based Zionism, both of which are typical of the Religious Right. And so candidates like Santorum and Gingrich, who have a competition going about who can take the most over-the-top neoconservative line, do well with the Religious Right for foreign- policy as well as social-issues reasons.

Third, why does Ron Paul (who is far from a fool) believe he can cut a deal with Romney? From what I’ve been reading and hearing, Paul has refrained from criticizing Romney and has aimed his fire at Romney’s rivals because he thinks he can get Romney to agree to make Ron’s son Rand, who is a Senator from Kentucky, his vice presidential running mate. This will never happen. Neither establishment GOP bigwigs like Karl Rove nor the Rupert Murdoch-neocon media would ever permit such a deal to come about. Right now, for better or worse, these are Romney’s allies, whom he will have to depend on after his nomination.

The Pauls, father and son, are poison to that establishment, which supports all things they oppose, such as an interventionist foreign policy and further military adventures, and a massive welfare state that provides patronage for the GOP faithful and programs for GOP voters. This establishment sees in Romney the “moderate” that it wants, not someone who would seriously reduce the size of government or practice military retrenchment. Even in a number two spot, Ron Paul or his like-minded son would not fit the job requirement.

The only way Ron Paul can have any clout at the national level is through a third-party challenge. He has no reason to imagine that the GOP will make room for him or his son. A better way to shake up things than by living with an empty hope is to seize the spoiler’s role. Make it hard on the GOP establishment to go on ignoring the real small-government conservatives. But this is only possible if Ron Paul acts boldly, by causing the GOP to lose disastrously in November.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2012 Election, Republicans 
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  1. A.C. says:

    I agree the whole Ron Paul/Romney axis seems to make no sense, but I think it’s obvious why Paul snr. would never destroy his son’s future “career” in the party (and I think it’s admirable both Paul’s know how destructive it is to view politics as such a thing-a “career”) by running as an independent. It’s simply suicidally insane to do that; he could win as much as a fifth or even a quarter of vote (though that’s debateable, Paul-mania has certainly cooled in the GOP primaries) like Perot did, but not carry a single state, he would TOXIFY not only his surname, but Old Right libertarian conservatism itself going forward into 2016, 2020, etc., which would positively THRILL the Kristols, Kagans, and Max Boots of the GOP; -finally, genuine libertarianism would be dead, and all from the selfishness and vanity of a single seventysomething politician they could blame it all on! Nothing would thrill the neocons more medium to long-term; does anybody really think that the Kristols et al in the party really believe Obama is someone they can’t abide for four more years? Kristol actually said as much back in ’04, that he would happily vote for a John Kerry over a never-going-to-happen Pat Buchanan or Buchanan-like figure who was GOP nominee! (This is why I find it so frustrating arguing w/dopey left-wingers at “get-togethers”-I’m not hip or rich enough to go to many “cocktail parties”, sadly-who babble to me how Bill Kristol and the rest of the Fox News crowd are the sine qua non of conservatism, btw.)

    Actually, I guess i should amend that; there is the Party and then there is the establishment con movement, or neoconservatism for short. Kristol and folks like him, NR-niks, etc., are obviously more in the latter; yes, he’d rather see the GOP whether Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich in the White House, all the better to fund all his little Machiavellian think tanks/plans, but does anyone get the idea that he and Hannity and other neocons like them really believe it when they drag out that line, ONCE AGAIN, “this is the most important election in our lifetimes”? I don’t know. With collectivized health care as a “right” now, it IS true that this election feels dangerously different, but still. Myself, I find it impossible to spot the genuiness or lack thereof anymore in the neocon movement, so long has it been full of you know what. What IS clear or seems clear to me is that Paul snr. may never get to be president, but Paul jnr. could possibly do so with time, a sea change revolution in the thinking of regular Americans who support the “conservative movement” and a lotta luck. The GOP, to be sure, “would never make room for him” voluntarily, but it’s conceivable Jnr. could/would only get the nomination by outwitting and frustrating the powers that be in a future nominating contest, and by, let’s face it, being a MUCH smarter politician with the media and his image than his father was ever, EVER going to be. For all there is to admire in him, Ron Paul is hardly the best messenger for his message; I found myself wanting to kick the television in these last few months from the number of times he has just HANDED the horrible Michael Gersons, Charles Lanes, and Rich Lowrys of the world (and let’s not forget Limbaugh-who has treated Ron Paul atrociously when he’s talked about him) a excuse to tell us all how crazy/dangerous he was and why it was so imperative/urgent that we NOT even consider supporting him. Paul snr. is simply a AWFUL politician, no two ways about it. That may make him more appealing as a person of principles, but this is a competitive contest at end of day as well.

    I DO think there is something going on w/Romney-Paul, though, question is what is it? I also think the Lewrockwell.com people and other paleolibertarians/cons have an idea what it is and are rather less than genuine w/their readers by pretending all the Romney-Paul agreement talk is just conspiracy nonsense. Who knows? Not me. Other than the rather simple, not very visibly useful to my eyes “plan” of just being #2 when Tampa rolls around in delegates so as to extract…what, exactly? Certainly not a veep position for his son, that’s fer sure. All this kid gloves w/Romney treatment just for a prime time speaking spot? And the neocons in the movement and the Party are going to fight Paul tooth and nail to even give him that, no matter how many delegates he has! AND even if he gets that, Ron Paul is NO Pat Buchanan in the oratorical gifts department. No matter who writes it, it’s hard for me to see him delivering a speech that is as remembered, for better or worse, as Buchanan’s ’92 Houston culture war speech. We’ll see, I guess.

    On a semi-related note, Professor Gottfried, is there any chance your new book put out by Cambridge Press on Strauss and the conservative movement is going to come down in price eventually? Know small print runs of books may sometimes be in obscure price ranges, but really want to read it, and can’t afford $80-$90 for it, which is what Amazon and B&N have it at. Any info is appreciated-thanks.

  2. Brutus says: • Website

    Nobody but Ron Paul.

  3. I just came from a discussion of this topic over at Infowars, (yeah, I know, I know…) but even in that rarified atmosphere most of the commenters were keeping good faith with Ron. Rand remains a known unknown, however, and even though I have, and continue, to support him, I was somewhat dismayed to be informed in his weekly newletter that –

    “Americans Previously Detained In Egypt Released

    It was reported this week that the Egyptian government lifted the travel ban on the remaining Americans being prosecuted for their association with pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

    Over the past several weeks, I have worked tirelessly to bring attention to the unjust actions of the Egyptian government, and I insisted that my colleagues in the Senate debate, consider, and vote on my amendment to deny Egypt any U.S. foreign aid unless they ended their attempt to prosecute these Americans. Now that Egypt has begun to relent, it is clear that the growing pressure on Egypt from the U.S. government – including from Congress – was a factor in their decision.

    It was later confirmed that a plane carrying the previously detained American pro-democracy workers left Egypt on Thursday. It brings me great relief to know the brave American pro-democracy workers in Egypt are safely returning home to the U.S. Their safe return brings closure to this ordeal.”

    I don’t know what he’s up to here, but I don’t like it. (Personally I was hoping the Egyptians would hang the bastards, but I admit to being somewhat immature.) I have complete faith in Ron, but methinks Rand may be “growing into” acceptance by the PTB. ” brave American pro-democracy workers”. Say what?

    A.C.- If you really can’t afford Gottfried’s book, or look at it as partial payment for all the free stuff he’s put out over the years, I just noticed that Amazon has 180 copies of “The War Over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny and America’s Mission” by Lawrence Kaplan and William Kristol from $0.01! The invisible hand is a beautiful thing…

  4. You are right, Paul, there are a lot of important people in the GOP who would view Rand Paul as Mitt Romney’s running mate with as much alarm as they do the father. But Ron Paul doesn’t have to mount a third party campaign to block Romney’s aspirations for the White House. All he has to do is sit on the sidelines, as he did in 2008. Romney realizes that. All his neo-con friends may kick and scream, but if Mitt concludes he needs the votes of Ron Paul supporters to get to the White House, and putting Rand on the ticket is the only way to get the old man out to campaign, at least for the ticket, he’s going to do it.

    The other factor to remember is that the number of Ron Paul delegates in Tampa will not be insubstantial. And they know how to make their presence felt, particularly through a national media that loves to show Republicans fighting each other. Mitt Romney can’t afford to let those Paulites leave the Convention unhappy.

  5. CD File says:

    The whole Paul/Romney deal is a bunch of hocum Santorum and his ilk are using as an excuse for poor results. They and their wives are friendly and show mutual respect, nothing more. This same delusion could apply to Ricky & Newt if desired.

  6. I don’t think a deal with the devil will work. There have been plenty of good candidates running against the establishment in third parties over the years. They don’t win. Ralph Nader was a blamed for Gore’s loss. Would the Christian Right prefer Ron Paul over Mitt Romney? Also some people vote for a party regardless who is running. It would be interesting if trojan horses could get through the defenses of the establishment.

  7. “Either we’re going to hell in a hand basket; or we’re so glowingly virtuous that we have a mission to make everyone exactly like us. Which is it?”

    Dr. Gottfried, you are dead right on the incoherence of Santorumism. Well said.

    On the question of Romney and abortion, William Saletan has done an admirable job researching, parsing and tying together a convincing explanation of Romney’s “evolution” on this question: http://slate.me/xSi5wQ

    “From what I’ve been reading and hearing, Paul has refrained from criticizing Romney and has aimed his fire at Romney’s rivals”

    This may indeed be correct. But I’ll point out that Paul has not refrained entirely from criticizing Romney. Doug Wead says the TV ad the Paul campaign has spent the most money on airing is the “Three of a Kind” ad which criticizes Romney as “a flip-flopper who’s been on all sides, supported the TARP bailout, and provided the blueprint for Obamacare.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSVi45vfA6o

  8. I still don’t buy this Romney/Paul deal BS. It’s all about competition, Paul thinks his people are the fiscal hawks and the constitutional conservatives, the “Tea Party” folks. The same folks who already reject Romney. Why beat a dead horse, when you have two competitiors, who you think are hypocrites?

  9. The reason that you don’t have liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats anymore is because the districts have been drawn to protect incumbents. Also the campaign finance laws. You start splintering into 3-5-7 parties then your going to end up like Israel. Which to be frank has an electoral system that sucks.

  10. I very much agree with A.C. above.

    There are a lot people who seem enthused at the prospect of Paul debating Obama, saying Paul will “kick his ass”. Very unlikely. As a debater, and even as a public speaker, Paul lacks focus and he natters.

    Watch this clip from Fox News Sunday, with Paul and Chris Wallace:

    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday/index.html#/v/1360001989001/rep-ron-paul-defends-controversial-aids-comments/?playlist_id=86913

    Instead of wavering around an explanation, he needs to cut to the heart of the matter and turn the gotcha back on Wallace:

    “Now, Chris, why are doing the same thing to me as Wolf Blitzer did? Why do you guys always feel the need to bring up the worst case scenario as a justification for socialism? The market will find a solution for the hypothetical man in your hypothetical scenario.
    But if you believe I am wrong, and the man will die because there is no state solution for him, what can we say about all the people who also die because of government interference in health care? ”

    And as a a doctor, I should think Paul should be able to lay it on in detail about how government in medicine makes people’s health worse…

    There was a similar problem with Paul in the earlier debates, in which he needed to emphasize that everyone who supported the bailouts and the monetary inflation supported theft and murder, murder, because the theft has indeed destroyed some people’s lives…

    It’s not like if he had said that, the other candidates were going to like him any less than they already do…

    Paul does represent an actual threat to the “new world order”, just like Buchanan did, but that does not mean that he is wise or electable. A lot of Paul voters are clinging to him because they feel he is going to be the anti-NWO Messiah, but I think his libertarianism actually figures more into his thinking than the conspiracy theories.

    The lack of rhetorical competence on Paul’s part was the primary reason that I went over to Newt. A Paul voter asked me if I could still change my mind, or something along those lines, and I said that if I felt Paul could make a defensible rhetorical case for ending the Fed as well as the allied issues relating to the Austrian interpretation of the business cycle against both the Republicans and the Democrats, I probably would. He can’t try it if he can’t explain it, and if he does try it, and can’t explain it, he is going to bring the whole endeavor into disrepute.

    I won’t be voting for Newt *just because* I think he is the only one to defeat Obama. I did the “lesser of two evils” thing with Dole, but never again. This is why I sat out the two Bush elections. I voted FOR Paul and FOR McCain in 2008.

    In terms of positions, I might agree with 60-75% of what Paul says, and 60-75% of what Newt says (or you have to count sometimes what they are NOT saying) – so whoever I vote for, there is going to be a less than satisfactory reflection of what I think.

    I remain in a position firmly in the middle of an ideological triangle between the neocons, the paleocons, and the libertarians, which means I am not likely to be welcomed as a “team player” by any of them.

    I’ve spent time defending Newt to my Paul acquaintances, as well as time defending Paul to my Newt acquaintances, (and unsuccessfully tried to mediate a fight that broke out between the two groups on a Facebook forum) but neither candidates’ partisans seem to want to accept the premise that their candidate’s position on the issues is inadequate, as Rod Dreher made the point here:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/2012/01/30/why-conservatives-hate-gingrich/

    For example, in a amazing oversight that seems to be typical of candidates, Newt is talking about energy and NOT talking about the Fed, while Paul is talking about the Fed and NOT talking about its relation to gas prices (it’s not that he’s never made the connection just that he is not emphasizing it).

  11. Gordon says:

    Romney is not as much a neocon as Santorum. Remember,Romney was criticized in 2008 for not being sufficiently hawkish. Lindsey Graham actually has done it this year.

  12. Jared says:

    We all know that, in the televised debates, that Ron Paul has the least amount of time to articulate his message which is the most unique among all the candidates. That would be difficult for anybody. I think it is safe to say that there’s no way Paul could ever win over the Fox News drone viewers, because they don’t take any time on their own to research the candidates.

    The best Ron Paul can ever hope for when he gets coverage in the MSM is to spark enough curiosity in a viewer that the viewer will take the initiative to get on the internet and learn more about him.

    With that being said, I agree that Dr. Paul could do a better job in the debates, but we should remember how high the deck is stacked against him.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Ron Paul has not and would never “cut a deal with Romney”. He is following a campaign strategy that seeks to eliminate all other would be “not Romney” candidates as quickly as possible, making it a one on one with Mitt. The deal is a media fantasy and you should know that!

  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    re: Paul/Romney. You can listen to the press – or you can listen to Paul’s own words that say there’s nothing more there than two men who have been cordial to each other.

  15. Dennis says:

    As one who first voted for Ron Paul in 1988 when he was the Libertarian Party candidate for president and who has read many of his writings, I cannot see him actively support or campaign for any of the other Republican candidates, including Romney. One of Paul’s outstanding characteristics is his consistency and integrity, and supporting one of the other candidates would contradict these attributes, as well as undermine his life’s work as a peerless political supporter of human freedom, the market economy, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

  16. This is a wonderful polemic against Santorum and the pseudo-Protestant theology of our time. In simple terms, there have always been two kinds of Protestants in America: tough-minded realists who believe in charity but don’t seek to re-invent the world AND optimists who believe in chosenness and seek to immanentize the eschaton. The second camp has always been more successfully because their various meddling crusades at home and abroad excite the passions of their flock. Santorum, as a Catholic, seems totally unaware of these tensions, as Paul astutely observed.

  17. I would like to thank all the respondents for their kind, informative comments. In response to my avid reader who is concerned about the price of my new book on Strauss and the American Right, he’ll have to take up this problem with Cambridge Press in NY. Although I’ve been told my book will eventually come out in paperback, I’ve no idea when this will happen.

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