16 Aug 2011

Yes, Ron Paul Is Getting Screwed, But We Must Ignore It

Ron Paul, Tea Party 50 Comments

The major media’s treatment of Ron Paul following his near-tie for first at the Iowa straw poll was so over-the-top that Jon Stewart (hardly a tea-bagging libertarian Fed-hater) called foul, as well as Politico’s Roger Simon (again, not himself a Paulian).

In response, we’ve seen the usual non sequiturs. “Oh none of this proves that the poll was rigged,” “There’s no bias, people just don’t think he can win,” “Either show me video with lizard people smoking cigars, or shut up,” etc.

The one actual bit of analysis I’ve seen is from Salon’s Steve Kornacki. Don’t get me wrong, Kornacki’s arguments are absurd–as we’ll see in a minute–but at least he is trying to explain why the Iowa straw poll is so signficant for everyone but Ron Paul. Let’s be clear: That’s the case that the media’s defenders need to make. If the media never paid attention to the straw poll, then their dismissal of Paul’s near-tie for first would be fine. Yet that’s not what happens. The straw poll is potent enough to get Pawlenty to drop out, or to make Sean Hannity say to Mike Huckabee after he came in 2nd in the Iowa straw poll back in 2007:

HANNITY:…Governor, look, there were two winners yesterday. Obviously, Mitt Romney had a huge day. He went for it, wanted to win, and he won by a big margin. You came in second and surprised a lot of people, a very strong showing. What happened? What was the dynamic?

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: People were responding to the message. You know, it really was a David-Goliath moment. We went out there with a smooth stone and a sling and a whole lot of hardy volunteers, some of whom drove 600 miles to be there. It was truly incredible. And we had very little money, but we had the message, the fair tax, consistent conservative views on things like sanctity of life. People responded to that. Newt Gingrich last week had said that I was a top-tier candidate, and I think Saturday validated that.

HANNITY: You know, I would actually agree with you. I would expect, Governor, that your poll numbers will be up significantly as a result of this. There’s some momentum building here. Does it make it different because Rudy Giuliani wasn’t there, Senator McCain wasn’t there? Does that take a little bit of the victory away, or do you think it’s just as good as if they were?

(In fairness, when I was trying to come up with a Jon Stewart-esque double standard with Hannity on this year’s result, all I could find was him telling a caller to stop making fun of Ron Paul supporters. Note, Hannity didn’t say, “Ron Paul’s strong showing in Ames means he got a lot of momentum now…” like he did with Huckabee, but I did want to note that he was civil in the above clip.)

So now we see what Kornacki has to do. He must explain why a strong showing by Ron Paul in Ames means nothing, but a similar performance by (say) Pawlenty would have revealed information about the mood of the electorate. Even though I will criticize what Kornacki is going to say, at least he’s trying to justify the double-standard, as opposed to ignoring the actual claims of the Ron Paul supporters. Here we go:

[T]he straw poll isn’t really about the literal order of finish. It means different things to different candidates for different reasons, and its main function has long been to help winnow or otherwise clarify the GOP field. As Jonathan Bernstein put it, it’s “an unusually visible event during the invisible primary.” Thus, this year’s straw poll wasn’t about all of the GOP candidates; it was about two particular candidates who chose to (or were forced to) contest it aggressively and who had something very specific to prove.

One of them was Tim Pawlenty, who spent the last year trying and failing to find traction in early state polls (and with GOP donors) before making the straw poll his do-or-die test. When, after pouring considerable time, money and organizational muscle into the event, he managed to grab just 13 percent of the vote, Pawlenty flunked his own test, which is why he dropped out of the race on Sunday.

The other candidate with something to prove was Bachmann, who has shown surprising strength in Iowa polling, vaulting into the lead in the late spring. Given the crucial role that conservative Christians, Bachmann’s natural constituency, play in the Iowa GOP, this prompted serious talk that she might actually win the caucuses this winter — then wreak serious havoc in subsequent contests, and maybe (under a remote but not entirely implausible scenario) walk off with the nomination. This made the straw poll a crucial test for Bachmann: Could she put together an organization capable of harnessing the grass-roots energy she has sparked and delivering a victory? Or would we find out that her campaign really doesn’t have its act together, and that her star isn’t really that powerful? Her victory is further reason to believe she’s a serious caucus contender.

OK, fair enough, but so far this is just telling us what we already know: When it comes to other Republican contenders, the Iowa straw poll is a good indication of their organizational ability, their fundraising, their appeal to crucial demographics, etc. So why don’t the above points apply to Ron Paul? If Bachmann’s performance proves she can harness “the grass-roots energy she has sparked” and that “she’s a serious caucus contender,” then why doesn’t Paul’s nearly identical outcome prove the same of him?

Now let’s talk about Paul, who also put a major effort into the straw poll. But unlike Bachmann and Pawlenty, he didn’t really have much to prove. Why? Because the political world already knows that Paul has an army of unusually loyal and dedicated supporters who are willing to show up in large numbers at events like the straw poll and producing impressive-seeming vote totals for their candidate.

Ah, now we see the difference! We already know that Ron Paul gets people fired up to support him. So really, Iowa was significant for Michele Bachmann, because it proved she was as good a campaigner as Ron Paul.

Wait, Kornacki offers some more nuance:

They’ve been doing this for years now. Remember when Paul won the straw poll at the 2010 CPAC conference? Or in 2011? His supporters are very good at this kind of thing, channeling their unique passion into “money bombs,” Internet poll victories, and strong performances at straw polls and other events where a devoted minority can have an outsize influence.

So by nabbing 27.65 percent on Saturday, Paul didn’t actually do anything to change the prevailing perception of his campaign and its appeal. Bachmann and Pawlenty faced legitimate questions about their ability to effectively organize for the straw poll. But no one doubted the Paul campaign’s skills in this regard. The key question about Paul’s campaign is one that the straw poll was never going to help answer: Can he build on his sizable (but ultimately limited) base of core supporters and develop mass appeal within the Republican Party?

Hold on a second. How can Kornacki say this is old news? As the quotes from Hannity point out above, in the last cycle Mitt Romney came in first in Ames, and Huckabee came in second. Back in 2007, Ron Paul only got 9 percent of the straw poll vote–which at the time I’m sure the major media took as confirmation that he was “just a niche candidate” and not in the top-tier, like the long-shot-turned-blockbuster Mike Huckabee.

As I say, I have to hand it Kornacki. At least he’s trying. He realizes that his own narrative makes no sense, and so he tries to plug the chink in his armor:

And while it’s true that Paul’s 2011 Iowa straw poll performance (27.65 percent) is far better than his 2007 showing (9 percent), it’s worth remembering that at the time of the ’07 event his army was just emerging (and learning how to manipulate events like it).

Everyone got that? The reason the pundits ignored Ron Paul back in 2007 was that he hadn’t yet developed his army. But now that his army just blew away everybody else except Bachmann, we can still ignore him, because we’re quite confident that he’s peaked. You see, Paul’s message of fiscal responsibility, peace, and the Constitution spread like wildfire from around November 2007 (to leave room for the shocking “moneybombs”) to about July 2011. But Salon’s pros assure us that he’s got no room left to grow, and that’s why it makes perfect sense that Ron Paul was on zero of the Sunday talk shows following his near-tie, and why CNN today at the airport had a segment on how Rick Perry pronounces “nuclear” compared to George Bush. (I’m not making that up.)

As far as “electability,” here is what RealClearPolitics has to say (as of early August 17, 2011). I’m looking at the RCP Average result for President Obama against a given Republican contender:

Obama beats Romney by 3.1%
Obama beats Paul by 10.7%
Obama beats Pawlenty by 10.7%
Obama beats Perry by 10.8%
Obama beats Bachmann by 11.2%
Obama beats Huntsman by 14.0%
Obama beats Cain by 14.7%
Obama beats Gingrich by 14.7%
Obama beats Palin by 17.5%

So if we exclude Pawlenty who just dropped out, Ron Paul is technically the second-best candidate the Republicans have to beat Obama in the general election. So c’mon Republican voters, follow your own logic! Put aside platitudes about balanced budgets, respecting the Constitution, blah blah blah. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for a guy who implemented government health care, then your only choice–strategically speaking–is to vote for Ron Paul in the primaries. Don’t do it because you (claim to) care about free markets, do it to beat Obama!

Last point, and sarcasm aside: I think we fans of Ron Paul need to admit to ourselves that there must be something to the whole “you guys are obnoxious” claim. I have noticed this type of thing when trying to argue with, say, proponents of the Fair Tax (or MMT). I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something that drains your precious bodily fluids when you attempt such arguments, that you don’t necessarily have with other types of people. Obviously just because I lack the stamina to debate them for long stretches, doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong. It does mean that in the interest of preserving my sanity, I try to limit such encounters.

So for some reason, this is the impression we are giving to people. I think Ron Paul supporters should take a cue from their hero. Dr. Paul didn’t go around whining about his unfair treatment; when people in the public eye do that, even if everything they say is valid, it sounds ridiculous.

Therefore, even though it is unequivocally true that Ron Paul is getting screwed by the major media, let’s not dwell on it. Let’s just keep spreading Dr. Paul’s revolutionary message of liberty, free markets, and peace. If we ignore the insults and the unfairness, evenhanded people like Jon Stewart will give us a break.

50 Responses to “Yes, Ron Paul Is Getting Screwed, But We Must Ignore It”

  1. Robert says:

    Awesome post. I agree with everything you said, and very strongly agree with your final point on how those supporting RP, myself included, should react.

  2. Bill Woolsey says:

    What are Ron Paul’s negative polling among likely Republican voters?

    How many likely Republican primary voters say, “anyone but Paul?”

    I supported Paul in 2008 and he is my second choice now.

    I support Gary Johnson now, and I am not claiming that he would
    do better using this test.

    Leaving aside polling data, the media pundits are just going with their
    prejudices about what the Republican primary electorate is like. They
    make the plausible judgement that Paul is way too libertarian for the vast
    majority of Republican primary voters.

    Paul has a core of devoted supporters. And not just a handful. But
    being able to swamp a straw poll, or even win caucuses, doesn’t make it
    possible to win in a primary vote. There are millions of Republican primary voters
    who “always vote.” (I talk to people like that frequently.)

    The general election polling is heartening. It must show that most Republlican
    primary voters consider Obama worse than Paul. It also shows that some voters
    think other Republican candidates are worse than Paul.

    Now, it is troubling that the media pundits don’t do even the slightest analysis along
    the lines of above.

    Paul is too dovish for the majority of Republicans, and so his support is capped at a low
    level. Paul’s refusal to have the Federal government use its power to support Christian
    values is too libertarian for social conservatives, and so his support is capped at a low
    level. Or so the assumption seems to be.

    And, of course, all of this is predicated on the media reporting politics as a sports event. Or,
    to some degree, helping people predict who will be President.

    In particular, doing little or nothing to provide voters with information that will actually help
    them make an educated vote.

    Paul is doing way better than he did in 2008. His polling numbers are much higher. His
    fundraising is much better. I think there is a story here.

    But I think the view that his dovish views (which is what I like best about him,) and his libertarian
    views on personal liberty (which are way better than everyone but Johnson in my view,) are way
    out of step with most Republican voters. What I like least about Paul is his macroeconomic views,
    and sadly, I think it goes over the head of most Republican voters.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      Well said.

      • Silas Barta says:

        Yeah, I, as Daniel_Kuehn, completely agree that the media should decree who is or is not electable and then black-out or pimp candidates on that basis, completely ignoring the depth of recursion, information cascading, and general stupidity of such a view.

        If a candidate I liked were having similar treatment I would have totally the same opinion and totally would not work toward showing how my guy is in a different position with respect to the media based on some arbitrary distinction. I do that because of deep commitment to truth and even-handedness.

        Generally, I’m ignorant of how a candidate’s chances are not independent of the media’s coverage.

    • Steve Horwitz says:

      What Bill Woolsey said.

      Yes, the media are unfair to RP. Not because of his ideas per se but because they are interested in a horse race and as far as *the GOP nomination* goes, I don’t believe RP has a chance for the reasons Bill says. This is why your head-to-head data with the president are irrelevant Bob. The issue is not “electability” as much as “ability to win the GOP nomination.”

      The irony of both GJ and RP is that I think either could beat Obama, esp. GJ, but neither can get the nomination from their own party to have that opportunity.

      RP’s support has a very firm floor and, I believe, a very binding ceiling at least within the GOP. As you suggest Bob, that makes the GOP stupid (and who’s surprised at that?) for not nominating a guy with the best chance to beat Obama. The media knows that, hence they aren’t focus on RP for the same reason you don’t focus on the longshot horse who runs well out of the gate but you deeply believe is destined to fade. Unfair? Maybe. But that’s the reason.

      And yes, RP’s supporters would do well to stop whining so much.

      • Beefcake the Mighty says:

        A horse race, Steve? Really? If I didn’t know you were bullshitting here I’d think you were terribly naive.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          Beefcake, if I didn’t know you were brain dead, I’d think you were brain dead.

      • Captain Anarchy says:

        I don’t really get the argument about his lack of electability being the prime reason for a media blackout. Electability is a direct function of media attention. They could choose some random hobo off the street, clean him up, and give him some phony background story and he would become a frontrunner.

        • Silas Barta says:

          Bingo. Eliezer Yudkowsky makes some excellent points along that line in the article I linked above. Er, I mean the more direct version of Daniel_Kuehn linked…

        • Blackadder says:

          Electability is a direct function of media attention. They could choose some random hobo off the street, clean him up, and give him some phony background story and he would become a frontrunner.

          If that was true, then shouldn’t Jimmy McMilan be the frontrunner right now?

          • Captain Anarchy says:

            No. He’s portrayed as a joke. They would need to pretend that he is a serious contender and the talking heads would have to talk about how he sends tingles through their loins or whatever.

    • Davis says:

      Ron Paul is polling 14% nationally. That’s 3rd. So yeah, it’s a little more than people swamping the straw polls. This isn’t 2008.

      Gary Johnson is just there to siphon away the support of people like you. Bachmann, Cain, and Paul Ryan if RP continues running strong, are also in it solely to hurt RP.

      Gary Johnson is typical statist beloved by the beltway libertarian types, who aren’t really libertarian as much as they are shills for the establishment–which hates Ron. There’s a reason they hate him, you know.

      • Blackadder says:

        How is Johnson more statist than Paul?

        Also, if Johnson is just there to siphon votes away from Paul, how come he is being excluded from the debates, being given less media attention than Paul, etc. Surely “they” would want to talk up Johnson, so as to siphon off more votes, no?

        • bobmurphy says:

          They’re more clever than that, Blackadder. You have no idea what we’re up against.

          • david nh says:

            I suspect this is Karl Rove”s doing.

      • Desolation Jones says:

        As far as I can tell, Gary Johnson is pretty close to Ron Paul in most positions. The biggest difference I know of is that Gary Johnson is in favor of open boarders while Ron Paul wants to waste money on a giant face and keep the Mexicans out. As far as being a “statist”, I think Ron Paul has Gary Johnson beat because of that issue.

        • Dan says:

          Here is the biggest difference between Ron Paul and Johnson. There are many others but this is red flag #1 to me and probably most Ron Paul supporters.

          http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/04/21/gary-johnson-caveat-emptor/

          • Blackadder says:

            Johnson opposed the Iraq war, opposes the Libyan action, and wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Clearly he is a warmonger.

            • Dan says:

              Did I call him a warmonger? I just don’t trust him when he’s says he would favor some humanitarian wars.

              I don’t have a huge problem with Gary Johnson but he doesn’t inspire me like Ron Paul does. Gary Johnson would be my second choice but I wouldn’t support him financially like I do for Ron Paul and I wouldn’t vote for him like I will for Ron Paul. Ron Paul is the only politician I have ever donated to and the only one I know of right now that could motivate me to vote for him.

    • david nh says:

      Hi Bill.

      I don’t consider myself a dove (even though I have moved towards that position as I learned more about libertarianism/Paul/etc.) but I would certainly vote for him if I was an American. I think many conservatives (not just we libertarian wackos) recognize that something fundamental needs to change in terms of domestic policy and that Paul offers that (unlike the “first tier”). Regardless of what one believes on the dove/hawk front, the primary threat at the moment is from the state. Even if you are a hawk, the expenditures must be sustainable and that requires significant change domestically. Also, Paul’s integrity I think will stand him in good stead with many, even those who disagree with him. There’s relatively little point in voting for most candidates, whether hawk or dove, based on what they say since they cannot be relied upon to actually mean it. People are craving authenticity now and no one has RP’s street cred on that issue. His is also a very optimistic message, pointing the way to a society based on consent rather than conflict.

      I also wonder whether Paul may attract those open-minded members of the disaffected left who view the state as a means rather than an end in itself. The failure of the state generally and the hawkishness of both mainstream left and right may provide an opening for Paul in that regard, in which case his dovishness will be an asset, not a liability.

  3. MamMoTh says:

    Who is Ron Paul?

    • Richie says:

      LOL LMAO Knee Slapper! So original! Can I be your friend?

  4. Brian Shelley says:

    Bob,

    Don’t fret. Stop looking at the man who’s winning and look at the ideas that are winning. Generally, the median voter hypothesis is true, but a candidate with special charisma or a really good image can win with a more liberal/conservative bent. Thus Obama in ’08 and Perry in ’12.

    While Paul isn’t winning, there are two interesting data points. First, is the obvious that he’s polling around 11% this time. It’s not enough to win, but it gives him a platform to get on TV and spread his ideas. He is slowly trending upwards and could top out around the mid to upper teens. Second, but less obvious, is his effect on the median voter. He is shifting the curve, which no other politician is doing. Bachmann mentions reading Mises and Perry uses negative hyperbole towards the Fed. At this point, it appears that Perry will win the Republican nomination and the general election. He is at least half a standard deviation more libertarian than John McCain (regardless of Wenzel’s scathing and exaggerated critiques). Partly this is charisma, but mostly it’s because the Austrians have moved the curve.

  5. Bob Roddis says:

    I disagree with Prof. Horwitz. The media types will never want to engage libertarian ideas especially Austrian economics. This has nothing to do with who they think is going to win. They sense that these ideas might be correct which would be devastating to their self image as hip “progressives”. They don’t really want to know how our problems are caused by their ideas. Further, they know absolutely nothing about Austrian economics and will never know anything about it. How can they defend a complete blackout on mentioning the simple fact that Hayek won the Nobel Prize for his work on a theory that insists that it is mainstream Keynesian policy itself that is the cause of our problems? They are afraid and clueless.

    Ron Paul has moved the curve. And MSNBC has gone berserk in response to Perry’s anti-Bernanke rant because we all know how neat, cool and essential the Fed really is:

    http://thelastword.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/08/16/7391419-perry-takes-heat-over-fed-comments

    Don’t miss the “Perry takes heat over treasonous fed comments” and “Impact of Federal Reserve on Jobs” videos.

    Getting these clowns to blab their Keynesian nonsense to the public is always a good thing IMHO. Getting average people to understand what the Fed actually is and that “The Ben Bernank” actually and truly engages in “The Printing Money” is 80% of the battle. If the public had a working understanding of only that, I think they would be appalled. Perry’s a phony but that will be clear to everyone in time.

  6. Beefcake the Mighty says:

    THIS is what you’re fighting for, Bob? To get a nomination for a man who (as of right now) would lose to Obama by 10%?

  7. Davis says:

    Well well well

    Reason does love Ron Paul.

    http://youtu.be/yy8EL3t4MEk

    WRONG

    • david nh says:

      Wow, it’s interesting that someone that openly hostile to RP and to libertarianism can be working for a supposed libertarian journal.

      • Davis says:

        It’s not surprising to anyone who reads Lew Rockwell or Bob Wenzel. They’re a Koch operation and they hate Rothbard and Ron Paul.

        • Subhi Andrews says:

          I don’t buy that narrative. If Ron Paul is beyond criticism, then that would make it a cult. You can disagree with Ron Paul and still be a libertarian.

          I’ll say that one of the biggest weakness of Ron Paul is that he is not very articulate, and that is one of his charms also – you don’t have to second guess what he really meant. I can see why some people ( libertarians ) might have a problem with it. They might think that Ron Paul is not presenting their ideology in the most convincing manner – they would be wrong of course – because before Ron Paul’s recent surge, libertarianism was in the wilderness for nearly a century.

          • david nh says:

            ” If Ron Paul is beyond criticism, then that would make it a cult. You can disagree with Ron Paul and still be a libertarian.”

            Non sequitur alert.

            No one said anything about RP being beyond criticism or that criticism of him might imply you were not a libertarian. The point rather was that a representative of a libertarian journal was so dismissive of RP’s ridiculously obvious treatment by the media in preference to decidedly non-libertarian candidates.

            • Subhi Andrews says:

              Wow, it’s interesting that someone that openly hostile to RP and to libertarianism can be working for a supposed libertarian journal.

              You said that. Why can’t they be openly hostile to RP and still be libertarian? I didn’t hear anything from Mangu-Ward that gave any indication that she is not a libertarian. This is the first time I heard from/about her.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Mangu-Ward: “He’s bringing important, overlooked ideas to our attention… He’s doing fantastically well…” — Wow! What hostility! This constant, paranoid whinging of Paul supporters is cringe producing.

        • david nh says:

          You’re very very good. I’ll give you that.

        • david nh says:

          ” This constant, paranoid whinging of Paul supporters ….”:

          Like Jon Stewart?

        • bobmurphy says:

          Gene Callahan wrote:

          “He’s bringing important, overlooked ideas to our attention… He’s doing fantastically well…” — Wow! What hostility!

          Gene, you’re kidding right? You don’t think it’s relevant that she was smirking and also said that Gary Johnson was more coherent (meaning Paul was incoherent), and that Paul has given no indication of what he’d do if elected?

          Oh, and does it matter that the part you put in ellipses was “for a guy who has no chance of winning”?

          Watch me compliment Gene everyone:

          “Gene Callahan is fantastically fair in his debates, compared to Johnny Cochrane.”

          This can be truthfully summarized as:

          “Bob said Gene is ‘fantastically fair in his debates.’”

  8. RG says:

    The State cannot be destroyed from the inside out, it must implode. Dr. Paul advocates the abolition of the state and his message must be delivered to as many people as possible, but President Ron Paul would be a horrendous situation for anyone that prefers freedom over slavery. It would give the state a new platform on which to build.

    • Captain Anarchy says:

      Well said. Ron Paul is a good man, but I don’t think he alone in an executive position could affect the change necessary to foster liberty. Spreading the message of libertarianism in this time is much more important than anything that could be accomplished from within the state apparatus.

      Opening the minds of people to the ideas of liberty while the state collapses would be the best scenario. If the state collapses while neocon warmonger ideas still reign, it will be a bad situation for all.

    • Dan says:

      I disagree for two main reasons.
      1. Ron Paul could end the wars and the empire immediately if he was president and war is the health of the State. Ending the wars is the most important objective in order to achieve freedom in my opinion.

      2. Ron Paul could use the presidency to get the message of freedom to more people in the shortest amount of time than anything else we can do.

      • RG says:

        #2 has some legs, but I think being a serious contender for the position will gain requisite exposure.

        #1 is short sighted. It is true that if RP were president he would end the current wars, eliminate a large portion of the welfare/warfare apparratus, and their bank roller. The economy would go through a very rough but relatively short readjustment and begin thriving. Immigrants would roll in and would be allowed to do so. Then after his term is complete, the cycle of leviathan expansion would begin anew with a larger base on which to expand.

        In my opinion, it is much more preferrable to let the crack up boom destroy all the governments and burn the idea to the ground once and for all.

        • Dan says:

          What if the crack up boom gives us another Hitler, Mao, or Stalin here in the US? If you are right and Ron Paul’s policies produced real prosperity again then he could use the presidency to explain to Americans why his way worked and turn them towards Mises and Rothbard.

          I personally don’t see him being able to stop us from going over the cliff though because it will be hard to get much through congress. He’ll be able to end the wars, end the drug wars, educate the masses, and give them a taste of freedom. I think that it will be dangerous if we collapse with some neocon in charge blaming the Chinese for the collapse. Who knows though, we’ll probably get your way on this one anyway.

  9. Bob Roddis says:

    The always excellent Justin Raimondo, the force behind antiwar.com and Rothbard biographer, explains:

    Ron Paul is getting more publicity out of not getting publicity in the wake of his virtual tie with Bachmann in the Ames poll than he’s gotten to date. Suddenly everyone’s noticing the “mainstream” media is trying very hard not to notice the twelve-term Texas congressman and libertarian icon, despite his success in quadrupling his previous Iowa showing and barely being edged out by Bachmann. Jon Stewart’s takedown of the Ron Paul media blackout is devastating, and, for the most part, funny. Barring that crack about Paul being “the ‘Patient Zero’ of the Tea Party” – likening tea partiers to HIV-positives is offensive on so many levels, I don’t know where to start – Stewart’s critique of the anti-Paul bias in the mainstream media is 100 percent accurate. Roger Simon, writing in Politico, found it “amazing” and “disturbing” that “Paul almost wins the thing and he remains poison.”

    ******

    The media’s refusal to report Paul’s growing support, beyond grudging acknowledgement that he’s come in from “the fringe,” reflects its institutional bias in favor of the right-left red-blue narrative that has, up until now, dominated American politics, and in which so much of the news industry is heavily invested. This narrative doesn’t allow for any significant deviations, and certainly not on the presidential level: all must submit to its tyranny, in spite of its archaic and increasingly obstructionist character. What it obstructs is any meaningful challenge to the functioning of the Welfare-Warfare State. If one party is in power, welfare is given more weight than warfare, if the other takes the throne, then welfare is given the axe. In any case, these two aspects of the modern American state are inextricably intertwined, as “defense” spending in the age of empire becomes just another dollop of pork to be ladled out to corporate and political interests – and welfare becomes a way to keep the disgruntled quiescent in wartime.

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/08/16/the-media-is-the-enemy/

  10. david nh says:

    Of course, RP was being ignored and of course he was being ignored because of his ideas. They are just way too appealing and way too reasonable. The fear is that the deeply dishonest and contradictory intellectual and legal framework supporting the state is too fragile to survive contact with reason and coherence.

    I was a bit upset yesterday but since then I’ve come to realize that in fact it simply adds to RP’s authenticity.

    Bob, you’re right that RP supporters shouldn’t whine about it. But they should continue to make people aware of the media bias/blackout – it should be used as an important selling point.

  11. Bob Roddis says:

    RP gets ignored and/or dissed for the same reason Krugman won’t debate Bob Murphy or any Austrian.

  12. Bob Roddis says:

    Krugman notes that Austrians have acquired a real and really bad influence in current policy debates.

    In a way, I really should not spend time debating the Modern Monetary Theory guys. They’re on my side in current policy debates, and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever have the kind of real — and really bad — influence that the Austrians have lately acquired. But I really don’t feel like getting right back to textbook revision, so here’s another shot.

    So, shouldn’t the media examine and, if the Austrians are so wrong, refute Austrian theory? What is the justification for avoiding it at all costs?

    My comment:

    http://tinyurl.com/3baczta

    • Captain Anarchy says:

      Krugman doesn’t know the first thing about Austrian econ. He just knows that it’s “bad” because it’s out of favor with the academic elites. He probably hasn’t spent any time in his life pondering epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and so on. He just knows that it goes against what he learned in school, so it must be “bad.”

  13. Bill Woolsey says:

    I think that “the media” judges that spending the amount of airtime and print needed to carefully examine the positions of all the candidates would result in people turning the channel or putting down the paper. Unless you just enjoy reading that sort of thing anyway, the potential voter is using scarce time to do something that is likely to provide next to no beneft to anyone.

    Many people like reading about sports, and apparently many people like reading about politics as if it is a sport–like horseracing.

    Of course, it is really more like football– yeah Team! Is it better to have the new quarterback who was such a star in college? Or is the veteran better? Yea Team!

    On the other hand, there could be some slight personal benefit to knowing who the next President will actually be. And, sure enough, the horserace coverage is very much pointed at who is winning?

    It is irrational to vote (though I think it is morally praiseworthy,) and it is rational to be ignorant about public policy (though I think it is morally praiseworthy to be able to cast an informed vote.) Unfortunately, most people are mostly selfish, and so lots of people don’t vote and most of those who do are pretty ignorant. That is one reason why limited government is a good idea. Depending on the voters doing a good job supervising the politicians is not very effective and should be avoided when possible.

    • Contemplationist says:

      Right on, but talking about what the media ‘should’ do is a futile effort. The internet and decentralization of the media is doing what we want, pleading with hacks is not going to change anything. What’s required is culture hacks – viral news and videos that force the agenda.

    • david nh says:

      ” I think that “the media” judges that spending the amount of airtime and print needed to carefully examine the positions of all the candidates would result in people turning the channel or putting down the paper. Unless you just enjoy reading that sort of thing anyway, the potential voter is using scarce time to do something that is likely to provide next to no benefit to anyone.”

      So simply mentioning that Ron Paul came second by the absolute slimmest of margins would be considered carefully examining the positions of all the candidates? Presumably, even (and in fact especially) if all right thinking people agree that RP is unelectable as President, the fact that he came a close second might be considered “news” or “a shocking upset” or an underdog story of the kind that the media is so fond? Perhaps the explanation is that everyone expected RP to come second (but nonetheless be unelectable) and therefore there’s nothing to see here? Weak.

    • Dan says:

      What candidate do they actually examine the positions of? Seems to me they just judge this like a beauty pageant.

  14. stickman says:

    I’m entirely sure how well he’s thought of in these here parts… but Will Wilkinson had a good post (IMO) on this subject a day or two ago: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/08/ron-paul-and-michele-bachmann

    Crude summary version: The (mainstream) media can afford to ignore RP, but why the hell is it paying so much attention to Michelle Bachmann?

    And before I earn vitriol in reply to my comment, have a read through the Wilkinson post. It certainly isn’t an anti-Paul rant.