Almost overnight Ron Paul began to rise in the Iowa polls. And it seems as if it were only a day later that we discovered that he lent his name to some odious assertions and cuckoo beliefs.
Do you see a pattern here? Bachmann gets popular; Bachmann’s husband is outed. Cain gets popular. Women whom he probably sexually harassed and his mistress suddenly speak up. Everyone thought they knew all of Newt’s skeletons, but as soon as he got popular yet a new one popped out, his dealings with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Every time a new Romney challenger appears on the horizon, the media find something. Perry is the only one not to have a new scandal revealed. He plummeted the old fashioned way, from a series of self-inflicted wounds.
Why do you suppose the news media wait for the candidates to ascend? My theory is that the reporters don’t know about these scandals until someone comes to them. No one comes to them with dirt on a candidate until he or she gets big. Now if it were a Bush running for President, I would say that the Bush machine was behind it, since spreading dirt about opponents is consistent with the history of Bush campaign’s tactics (see Kitty Kelley’s The Family, for example). I infer nothing from the fact that Romney is the candidate preferred by the Bushes.
There’s a double shock in the scandal surrounding Ron Paul. The first shock is learning that Paul lent his name to ugly rants against African-Americans, Jews, the state of Israel and gays. Articles with his name on them criticized the U.S. holiday bearing Martin Luther King’s name as “Hate Whitey Day” and said that AIDS sufferers “enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.” The image that most have of Paul’s views is that he is an economic free market extremist and a libertarian, a rational if sometimes ill-informed thinker. Racism, anti-Semitism and even homophobia are all inimical to Paul’s rationalism. It’s shocking to see him linked to these irrational views.
The second shock is one of style. Ron Paul looks like such a kindly old man, a grandfather who always has a gentle word of advice. The imagination and most casting directors select off-balanced, crazed, intense, obsessive or somewhat out-of-control loonies to espouse these ugly views.
It’s much harder to forgive Paul his former ties to racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia than to forgive the other Republican candidates their flaws. We always knew that Romney and Gingrich were non-ideological power-grabbers, so new revelations can’t possibly shock us anymore. If Bachmann, Santorum, Perry and Cain believe nonsense and advocate false ideas, at least their wrong-headedness is traditional, theologically based and shared by a large part of the population. Don’t get me wrong: I have more forgiveness in my heart for the religiously based candidate but that does not make these candidates any more appealing than Paul, Romney or Gingrich.
And then there’s Jon Huntsman. The only thing for which we need to forgive him is for thinking that there was room in the current Republican Party for reasonable views based on science and pragmatism.
It’s a sorry lot. Many are saying that President Obama will roll to victory against any of these candidates. That’s a dangerous way for anyone to think whose interests lie with the poorest 99% of the population.
Instead, we should be thinking: No matter who wins the Republican nomination, we must keep driving Obama further left, but make sure we are registered to vote and go to the polls on Election Day.
I want to close with a quick note about the great stuff in the latest issue of Jewish Currents, which just arrived in the mail box yesterday. The lead editorial connects corporate greed to idolatry and there is a great article about Israel’s “tent revolution” social justice protest movement. A new column carries extensive interviews with activists from around the country. The art and literature is tasty, as usual. Check it out for a progressive view on Jewish issues and a Jewish view on progressive issues.