23 December 2011

Defending Ron Paul

First, from John Derbyshire:

Politics proverbially makes for strange bedfellows, but there is no bed wide enough to accommodate these two. Ron’s difference of opinion with Michele over matters in the Mediterranean’s bottom-right-hand corner has affected him so deeply it has driven him into left-liberal speech mode. Asked by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show what he thought of Michele, Ron replied:
She doesn’t like Muslims. She hates Muslims. She hates them. She wants to go get ’em.
As sad as the lost hope of a Bachmann-Paul ticket is, it is sadder yet to hear Ron lapse into leftist duckspeak. The cant against “hate” is a low and dishonest kind of moralistic bullying based, as such things always are, on a deliberate perversion of words’ meaning. It allows the speaker to allege that opinions contrary to his own (or ones that are unorthodox or unpopular) are inspired by base emotions and are therefore false.

Ron Paul supporters are in a hilariously hypocritical position wherein they can state publicly that their candidate is a class act, a statesman , and a gentleman among political hacks all the while complaining—in private, of course—that Ron Paul’s presidential aspirations are dashed by the man’s unwillingness to play political games.  In essence, Paul is cursed by his classiness.

Unfortunately, Paul has to make a choice:  will he stay classy or will he get his hands dirty?  He can’t do both, and so he has to make a choice between the two.  Classiness did not seem to work particularly well with his first two presidential runs, so maybe the alternative will work out better.  This seems particularly likely, given that a lot of idiots have been granted the privilege to vote, and emotional appeals tend to be persuasive to the cognitively impaired.

Is taking potshots dishonest, shady, and dirty?  Absolutely.  But—and this is crucial—they are politically effective.

Second, from Debra Saunders:

Over time, those positions wander into crazy-talk land and wear thin. Recently, Paul told an Iowa audience, "Just think of what happened after 9/11. Immediately before there was any assessment there was glee in the (Bush) administration because now we can invade Iraq."
That kind of talk made Paul many Democrats' pet Republican in 2008. He has picked up support on niche issues -- on the far right, his pledge to shutter the Transportation Security Administration; on the left, his supportive rhetoric on accused Wiki-leaker Bradley Manning. Paul has won support ranging from Timothy Leary's backyard in 1988 to traditional-values Iowans in 2011. He has core values. Alas, he has no middle.

Ignoring the fact that “the middle” is a muddled, meaningless phrase that points to an elusive, inspecific (perhaps imaginary) demographic, the charge of kookiness is simply irrelevant.  The important question is:  to whom does Ron Paul’s positions seem kooky or crazy?

It should not be surprising that politicians and members of the media find Ron Paul to be crazy.  The truth often sounds insane to those who traffic in lies.  But beyond that, the claim that Ron Paul is crazy seems to only be made by either Paul’s opponents or by the media, perhaps in an attempt to create the world’s first top-down meme.

 Ultimately, the lens by which Ron Paul’s claims and policies should be measured is not in terms of craziness, but in terms of correctness.  It doesn’t matter if Paul’s views on Iraq sound crazy; what matters is if they are right.

Finally, from Jonah Goldberg:

Presidential power is the power to persuade -- Congress, the media and, ultimately and most important, the American people. The power of the purse, meanwhile, resides on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Paul has been in Congress, off and on, for nearly 30 years. In that time, he will rightly tell you, Congress has spent money with reckless abandon, expanded the state's police powers, launched numerous wars without a declaration of war and further embraced fiat money (he got into politics when Richard Nixon took us fully off the gold standard). During all of that, he took to the floor and delivered passionate speeches in protest convincing ... nobody. He authored precious little legislation of any consequence.
Paul's supporters love to talk about how he was a lone voice of dissent. They never explain why he was alone in his dissent. Why couldn't he convince even his ideologically sympathetic colleagues? Why is there no Ron Paul caucus?
Now he insists that everyone in Washington will suddenly do what he wants once he's in the White House. That's almost painfully naive. And it's ironic that the only way the libertarian-pure-constitutionalist in the race could do the things he's promising is by using powers not in the Constitution.

This is, to use a phrase, a steaming pile of bovine fecal matter.  The constitution provides no guidance for redressing violations of the constitution.  As John Marshall once (somewhat ironically) stated, “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution, are null and void.”  This means that the president does not have to enforce any unconstitutional laws, nor do states have to comply with them, nor does the Supreme Court have to uphold them.  It doesn’t matter what statutory laws says about the executive branch’s compliance with congressional legislation, for the president swears to uphold the constitution, not congressional statutes.

As such, the president has an incredibly wide degree of latitude in upholding the constitution.  Therefore, Ron Paul would certainly be correct in using whatever powers he has to withhold funding from unconstitutional departments and agencies, or in flat-out abolishing them.  The constitution provides a system of checks and balances wherein one branch of the federal government has the same power and authority as any of the other branches, who in turn have the same power and authority as the various states, particularly in matters of upholding the constitution.  The idea that the president is bound by congress in upholding unconstitutional laws is, frankly, absurd, and certainly not in keeping with the language and spirit of the constitution.

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