The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear of a Ron Paul Planet

Posted on | December 19, 2011 | 59 Comments

“Newt Gingrich’s lead in the race for the GOP presidential nomination has evaporated, according to a new national survey.”
Paul Steinhauser, CNN

“The model gives [Ron Paul] a 44 percent chance of winning Iowa based on the current standing of the candidates and the historic uncertainty of polling-based forecasts. Mr. Romney has a 32 percent chance of winning, while Mr. Gingrich’s chances have crashed to 15 percent.”
Nate Silver, New York Times

“If Iowa picks Ron Paul as its caucus winner, two things will result. First, Mitt Romney will probably run the table as Republicans everywhere else but Iowa recoil in horror. Second, Iowa will likely end up losing whatever cachet it has managed to build over the last three decades as a first-in-the-nation proving ground for presidential candidates, and the drumbeat to unseat both Iowa and New Hampshire from the front end of the primary system will prove irresistible.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“[T]he GOP establishment has so invested itself in Romney’s candidacy that it has increased the likelihood of the one thing that would hand Barack Obama the election, a Ron Paul third party candidacy.”
William Jacobson, Legal Insurrection

Everybody chill, OK? It’s merely a poll. And despite the impressive increase in Ron Paul’s Iowa poll numbers, he’s still Ron Paul — a candidate with a “high floor, low ceiling,” as they say.

Furthermore, the panic over the evident “collapse” of Newt Gingrich’s support reminds me very much of the panic over Rick Perry’s collapse in September. Like Perry before him, Gingrich was cloaked with the mantle of “The Only Viable Alternative to Romney” and, when things went wrong, the argument was (and is being) made that those who fail to rally to the designated Not Mitt are objectively pro-Romney.

This argument was absurd when I was hearing it from Perry’s people three months ago, and is equally absurd — indeed, more absurd — when it is made on behalf of Newt Gingrich. His serial disloyalties to the conservative grassroots make Newt a strange choice as the Last Hope of the conservative moment. He joined Nancy Pelosi to endorse global warming theory. He supported RINO Dede Scozzafava in the crucial NY-23 special election. He collected big bucks from Freddie Mac. And yet Gingrich, of all the candidates in the GOP field, is to be the final repository of conservative hope in the 2012 race?

Are you people on drugs?

Arguments about “viability” and “electability” tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies, especially when the entire media establishment — including Fox News — have bought into the front-runner game, wherein only the media-anointed and poll-validated “contenders” are considered newsworthy. What is weird is how people buy into that game while asserting that they are, in fact, only being realistic, whereas those of us who don’t do the front-runner bandwagon thing — who don’t give a damn about anyone’s tautological “electability” arguments — are (at least implicitly) accused of being unrealistic dreamers. And yet now we see how the unrealistic dreamers who support Ron Paul have brought their dream to the verge of fruition, thereby inspiring nightmares in the minds of the Anybody But Romney brigades.

All your arguments on behalf of Newt as “electable” are going to look mighty damned silly if Newt finishes third in Iowa, especially if you were among those who previously boarded the Perry bandwagon, and Perry finishes sixth in Iowa — an increasingly real possibility.

“Don’t look at the polls. . . . Don’t pay attention to what the national media are saying, what the pundits are saying. Listen to your heart. Lead. Don’t follow.”
Rick Santorum

Think about it: Santorum has gone from 6% to 10% in the PPP Iowa poll within the span of two weeks. He is now in a three-way tie for fourth with Perry and Michele Bachmann. Santorum’s campaign has recently collected several key endorsements, including Iowa’s Secretary of State, and a pro-Santorum “super-PAC’ just put him on-air with TV ads in Iowa.

Isn’t this what a last-minute surge in Iowa looks like? And isn’t it possible that if Santorum, who has relentlessly campaigned in Iowa, can keep up this momentum, he could get 20% of the vote Jan. 3? And if Santorum gets 20% on Jan. 3, he will instantly pole-vault to “contender” status, the Cinderella story of the entire 2012 campaign — the candidate everybody wrote off as doomed, suddenly emerging as the conservative David ready to take on the RINO Goliath Romney.

You say it can’t happen? Gingrich’s support was always contingent on his perceived status as The Guy Who Can Beat Romney, and that perception has taken a serious beating in the past couple of weeks, his support falling from 27% to 14%. How is Newt supposed to beat Romney, if he can’t even beat Ron Paul? So the “soft” Gingrich supporters have to go somewhere and — unlike either Bachmann or Perry — Santorum has never had that “Flavor of the Month” moment this year. He’s got a fanatical grassroots volunteer organization in the Hawkeye State, and now is the time when that kind of grassroots support matters most.

Santorum’s biggest problem is that he keeps getting the “yes, but” reaction from conservative pundits who emit mixed signals about him: “Yes, he made a good point in that debate, but . . .” — and what follows the “but” amounts to a dismissive suggestion that no one should take Santorum’s campaign seriously.

But if the Newt bubble is collapsing, so that both Ed Morrissey and William Jacobson now see the Republican Party faced with destruction in the jaws of a Ron Paul/Mitt Romney pincers movement, isn’t it time to take Santorum seriously? Eighteen days after Sarah Palin singled out Rick Santorum for praise on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, I say the time is way overdue.

 

RICK SANTORUM for PRESIDENT
‘Listen to Your Heart. Lead. Don’t Follow.’

 

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