So much fun.
So little time.
Mitt Romney may effectively capture the Republican nomination by the end of January—with probable wins in both South Carolina and Florida—closing off the fascinating slugfest of GOP debates and primaries.
A pity. So much more could happen.
Ron Paul is just reaching his stride and energizing the “other base” of the Republican Party—not the angry, imploding Newt Gingrich. Not the pumped-up Rick Santorum. Not the Democratic fill-in, Jon Huntsman, and not even the Tea Party.
Paul is going the distance because of the passion of young, anti-war, anti-bailout, anti-Fed, anti-government, anti-globalist voters. And, if current events keep turning in his direction, Paul may just turn the Republicans, if not the country, around.
Look at the FoxNews.com exit polls from New Hampshire here. Paul trounces Romney among the young.
Watch the faces and the fist-pumping in the crowd of these young true believers who flock to his “liberty” cry.
And listen to Paul’s speech after placing second to Romney. No teleprompter, no notes, just defiance, conviction and passion for his cause.
Paul has tapped into the rage of many Americans, but especially Republicans, Libertarians and independents who rail against the Federal Reserve (“audit it”); against the bank bailouts (“let them fail”); and against the war on drugs (“it has failed”).
But pay closer attention to his “get out of these wars of choice” message.
This is Paul’s secret weapon—“peace,” the word that became unfashionable after George McGovern’s landslide loss to Richard Nixon during the bedlam and backlash against the Vietnam War.
Paul has re-framed the anti-war debate using accounting, wrecking-ball phases and unanswerable questions to drive his points home.
Why can’t these countries defend themselves?
Why is the U.S. the “policeman of the world?”
Why should the U.S. make the world “safe for democracy” while taking it away at home?
Read: the Patriot Act; the latest National Defense Authorization Act (that arguably allows for arrest and indefinite detention of American citizens on American soil, without benefit of counsel or trial); the Internet “kill switch;” grumbles about the TSA and the overreach and/or incompetence of Homeland Security, from the “Fast and Furious” scandal to the latest Washington Post report that U.S. agents laundered money for drug cartels.
The price Americans are paying is too high, Paul argues. Not just in the costs of the wars (trillions) or the loss of lives (thousands of Americans, tens of thousands of “enemy combatants” and “collateral damage” civilians, but also in the loss of liberty.
Paul has given voice to a growing undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the country among voters of all persuasions: the never-ending wars.
As Gingrich and Santorum bang the drums for more war—with Iran (pre-emptive if necessary)—they flail and fail in the polls.
Gingrich, now more Sherman-esque than Churchill-like, is seeking revenge against Romney—at any cost.
Gingrich wraps himself in the Ronald Reagan legacy, while simultaneously violating Reagan’s 11thcommandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The former speaker’s sole reason for existence now appears to be “destroy Romney.”
Meanwhile, Romney marches along, picking up delegates and endorsements, including a fistful of former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican, while Paul tackles and pins the rest of the field on their hypocrisy.
Paul’s most withering remark was calling Gingrich a “chicken-hawk” for receiving five deferments during the Vietnam War. Paul served as a flight surgeon.
When Gingrich tried to counter with his trademark “professorial snide” putdown by saying that he was “prevented” from serving because he was married with one child, Paul stared angrily into the face of the New Hampshire debate cameras and responded, “I was married with two children and I went.”
Another bunch of ongoing wars, plus another flare-up threatening to escalate from bravura to bombs—in Iran—has Paul’s rallying point on the cusp of replacing James Carville’s legendary mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Paul’s dire warning may become 2012’s latest bumper sticker: “It’s the wars, stupid.”
Colleen O'Connor, a former college history professor, contributes political columns to Patch.