The lamestream media still thinks it gets to define what is the mainstream, and that’s why every account of the recent Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) “reported” that, yes, Ron Paul won the straw poll, but the real significance of the event was John Huntsman’s second place finish. Pointing to the youthfulness and passion of the Paulians, lamestream media outlets invariably also mention the organizational prowess of the Paul Machine in getting their people to these cattle calls. Yet few noted Huntsman’s organization also focused on the New Orleans gathering, which not only sent Huntsman’s wife and top campaign aides but also paid supporters of Obama’s ambassador to China to attend. Where did the money come from to undertake this expensive effort?
Well, we know where Ron got his money – from tens of thousands of small contributions coming in from all over the country in the famous Ron Paul “money bombs” that have wowed political professionals across the spectrum. But what about Huntsman’s cash? It came from “HPAC,” the political action committee Huntsman launched soon after resigning his ambassadorship: and where did that money come from? Well, since Huntsman has yet to actually declare, he doesn’t have to disclose that information, but what I want to know is did he pay for those RLC votes in dollars or yuan?
I’m only half-kidding about that, but the main point is that the lamestreamers – and their neocon bag men – are determined to rob the only consistent anti-interventionist in the race of his victories, no matter how many he chalks up. This is pretty much par for the course, but what’s really absurd about this dismissive attitude is the media’s unwillingness to recognize the enormous intellectual influence of Paul’s views – and especially his foreign policy views – have had on the GOP, and not just on the activist base, but the wider Republican electorate. Take a look at this recent Pew Poll, the results of which are summed up in their headline: “In Shift From Bush Era, More Conservatives Say ‘Come Home America.’”
“In their first major presidential debate June 13, the Republican candidates sketched out a cautious approach to U.S. global engagement that would represent a departure from the policies of the Bush administration. Yet their ideas are very much in tune with the evolving views of the GOP base.
“In the Pew Research Center’s political typology survey, released May 4, majorities in every partisan group –including 55% of conservative Republicans – said the U.S. ‘should pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home.’
“In December 2004, conservative Republicans had been the only group in which a majority had expressed the opposing view – 58% said ‘it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.’ The proportion of conservative Republicans supporting U.S. activism in world affairs has fallen by 19 points to 39%. Since 2004, liberal Democrats and independents also have become less supportive of U.S. global engagement, but the change has been most dramatic among conservatives.”
Even more definitively, more Republicans (45%) than Democrats (43%) now say “the U.S. should mind its own business internationally.” In previous surveys, the MYOB faction of the GOP was half as large.
Paul’s influence on the foreign policy debate in the GOP is hard to deny, even if you’re a “reporter.” Yet deny it they have: they’re not about to give any credit to someone they consider The Enemy. Christiane Amanpour spent the entire hour of her Sunday show giving John McCain a platform to denounce Republican “isolationism” – and herself sounding the alarm throughout the other segments – without once mentioning the most prominent “isolationist” of them all, the one who made it okay – and then cool – to question America’s burden of empire in polite Republican company: Ron Paul.
Surely the War Party is scared to death that the so-called “isolationist” (i.e., anti-meddling) wing of the GOP will take over: what really mortifies them, however, isn’t Paul winning straw polls (although they don’t like it), but the other candidates echoing Paul’s views, albeit in vague and very watered-down terms. That’s why McCain, the architect of the GOP’s last electoral disaster, and his neoconservative janissaries have taken to the hustings to exorcise the “isolationist” demon.
McCain has less credibility among conservatives than even Romney, and sending him out there to make the case for US intervention in Libya probably helps the “isolationist” cause more than it hurts, and so we have the War Party moving on another front – the familiar PNAC tactic of issuing “open letters,” this time decrying House Republicans for not supporting Obama’s Libya adventure. Drafted by Elliott Abrams, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol – one convicted criminal and two chickenhawks – the letter, which expresses “grave concern” that House Republicans aren’t reflexively supporting the spilling of American blood, “is now being circulated for signature by leading Republican and conservative foreign policy types.” Just how many of these “types” have signed on so far is unknown: what is known, however, is that the admonitions of the neocons and their failed presidential candidate are likely to have zero effect on the emerging Republican foreign policy consensus.
One major problem for the War Party is that neither McCain nor the Kristol-Kagan-Abrams triumvirate really offer any substantial arguments in support of their views. We are told that there will be horrific consequences if we are “defeated” by Gadhafi, and yet there is nothing too specific, only that ending our participation in the war “would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt.” But leadership and resolution in pursuit of a mistaken course is precisely what got us into trouble in Iraq, and now Afghanistan, both of which have ended in disaster. Are we now going to follow the advice of those most responsible for these twin catastrophes and make the same mistake a third time?
Republicans are wising up to Kristol and his fellow “foreign policy types” who never met a war they didn’t love. At a time when Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, and their nation, these are the last people Republicans want to hear from.
While the neocons are hoping “American leadership” exercised in Libya (and possibly Syria) will co-opt the Arab Spring, what they really fear is an American Spring. And just as they never foresaw the Arab awakening and the overthrow of US-supported dictators in Egypt and Tunisia, so they are blind to the coming American awakening – a massive grassroots rebellion against the political status quo right here in this country.
For more than half a century the foreign policy consensus of both parties has been a “politics stops at the water’s edge” interventionism, in which the role of American “global leadership” was never questioned (except briefly, during the Vietnam era). That ideological hegemony is now being broken, as ordinary Americans – not the usual “foreign policy types” cashiered by the big defense contractors – are demanding the US begin minding its own business instead of everybody else’s.
The neocons thought they could get away with declaring that “everything changed” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that Americans were too damned scared to question whether US foreign policy had to be one long killing spree extending into the indefinite future. Not so.
The present condition of the American people is often described as “war weary,” but they’re weary of a lot more than that: they’re sick unto death of self-proclaimed “experts” like Senor Kristol and the Kagan family, who’ve never been anywhere near a battlefield, telling them we have to conquer the world and make sure it stays conquered.
The War Party has lost the intellectual battle – and it’s just a matter of time before they lose the political battle as well. The wind is in the sails of the USS Isolationist, which might be renamed the USS Tea Partier – Captain Ron Paul at the wheel. Before you know it, the neocons will set sail for another shore and hightail it back to the Democratic party, where they were spawned. If the Dems are smart – and they aren’t – they’ll rebuff these parasites, who attach themselves to larger political animals and feed until their host is nothing but a drained husk. Which is what the GOP was in the wake of Obama’s election victory.
Revived, and renewed by a populist upsurge, the Republican party – incredibly enough – is becoming the main political vessel of anti-interventionism in the US only a few years after leading this country into two of the most unsuccessful wars we’ve ever fought. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere, which I wonder if the present Republican leadership is capable of understanding, let alone learning.