An Op-Ed from The Bunker by Gary H. Johnson, Jr.
Thanks to Rick Santorum, Ron Paul’s bid for the U.S. Presidency was effectively over by the end of the CNN sponsored Tea Party Republican Presidential Debate on September 12, 2011.
On Monday night, the volleys directed at the front runner Rick Perry were to be expected. In recent debates it has become clear that the handlers of Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, John Huntsman and Michelle Bachmann have advised that the best course of action is to fire barbs and accusations Perry’s way to find out what will bounce off and what will stick. The goal, strategically, is to find a blow that can cause Perry to lose his cool. Rick Perry has weathered the storm well. From his stance on illegal immigration to his executive order to have young Texas women immunized for HPV, Perry’s second-tier opponents have been relentless in their assaults. Governor Romney, by contrast, has been gracious in seeking clarification about Governor Perry’s position on whether or not he would seek to reform or end social security. Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, the Georgia boys, have chosen to remain aloof from the fray, and both have chosen to simply put forward winning ideas on a regular basis.
What has become patently clear from virtually every poll, though, is that two candidates should throw in the towel: John Huntsman and Rick Santorum. Huntsman and Santorum hold a combined 4 to 5% of the voters.
Huntsman’s smarmy delivery on virtually every issue smacks of RINO elitism…his presence in the race at this point is due his belief that he can garner independents and moderate Republican votes – in complete denial of every poll in the world that says no one knows who he is or why he is even running. It is time for Huntsman to go the way of Pawlenty, bow out and endorse Romney.
Rick Santorum, after a disappointing showing in the last few debates, primarily due to intentional sidelining by the moderators, should take his recent success in his heated exchange with Ron Paul in last night’s Tea Party Express debate, step aside and throw his support to Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain. This simple step would slingshot Gingrich or Cain into a tie with Michelle Bachmann, change the dynamics of the race and the impact of future debates.
Bachmann’s focus on the Perry HPV mandate, which has largely become a non-issue since it was never enacted, has ended in the relative implosion of her candidacy. The fact that Rick Santorum jumped on the bandwagon to score points against Rick Perry is yet another indicator that Santorum’s candidacy is at an end. Since her victory in Iowa’s straw poll, Bachmann’s popularity has been sliding. Her passion for the country, the constitution, and the virtues of a faith-filled life are read by the average man and woman on the street as holy rolling zealotry – whether that label is deserved or simply the effect of a left wing media spin machine kicked off by Rolling Stone. Bachmann does still hold currency in the Tea Party set for her powerful work in Congress to date; however, with Ron Paul and Herman Cain in the race, the Tea Party core is split three ways – and if Sarah Palin were to jump in, it would split again.
Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich are, at this point a dead heat for fifth place in a field of six.
Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul are virtually even at third place. Interestingly, if Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum all dropped their bid and endorsed Herman Cain, he would emerge as the front runner. This reality is unlikely to happen. What is more likely is that Herman Cain will emerge as Marco Rubio’s competition in the selection of a running mate for Rick Perry should he win the nomination.
Newt Gingrich’s slow play at this point is due to his political baggage. Hands down, he is by far the idea man among the candidates. His ability to chop down Democrat talking points, deliver cutting analysis and act as a uniting force on the debate fora shows his capacity to lead. His knowledge of history, politics, foreign policy and fiscal policy is hard to beat. To date, his only debate failing is his continual focus on the age of Ronald Reagan. The audience is not voting for Reagan or the Reagan candidate in 2012 – they are voting against Obama and Obamacare.
One unfortunate reality in the Republican field, at present, is the fact that Ron Paul’s devotees are completely blind to any failing their candidate demonstrates. The left wing media has wrongly coined Paul the father of the Tea Party movement. He is a libertarian thinker with good ideas on fiscal policy and that is where the affair with the Tea Party movement ends. Ron Paul’s inability to cope with the threat of radical Islam and other foreign threats (without becoming unhinged) completely undermines his bid to be President of the United States.
Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have squared off on Foreign Policy. Ron Paul called Santorum’s drive to stop Iran from gaining nuclear weapons “propaganda.” Rick Santorum, Monday, called out Ron Paul’s 9/11 message to America on his website www.ronpaul.com, for essentially blaming America for the attacks on 9/11/2001.
The shot came after Ron Paul, again, as he seemingly always has these last few months, charged that U.S. militarism around the world should be replaced with wise foreign policy. Paul was booed for clarifying what he believed were al Qaeda’s motivations for attacking the United States.
The truth of the matter is that Ron Paul’s blog post should be read by every Republican. He focuses on the idea that occupation is the problem with American foreign policy. However, perhaps more importantly, Ron Paul cites the scholarship of Robert Pape, who coauthored “Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It.”
What Ron Paul fails to recognize is that Tea Partiers and Republicans will soon learn that Robert Pape was once a teacher’s assistant to John Mearsheimer, who (in addition to serving as his adviser in 2008) served as a policy adviser to Barack Obama in 2008. Robert Pape co-directs Chicago University’s International Security Policy program with Mearsheimer, the coauthor of The Israel Lobby. The March 2006 white paper by Mearsheimer and Dewalt, which became a book, offers the rationalization for an anti-Israeli foreign policy as an attack on Bush era neo-con policies. Ron Paul calls the studies of this thinker “honest.”
By falling into the anti-neo-con rationale of Mearsheimer and Pape, Ron Paul has, perhaps unwittingly, adopted an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian foreign policy. By focusing on the concept of occupation as the source of suicide bombing, Paul completely absolves Islamist ideology as the instigating force of jihad. By attempting to soften Republican policies toward Islam, in general, Ron Paul reveals his foreign policy positions to be closer to Obama and Kucinich than to Reagan or Bush. The desire to demilitarize and withdraw from foreign theaters, while intriguing to Republicans weary of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, completely misses the boat on realistically assessing the threat of Islamist radicalism and Shariah Law.
Ron Paul will always have 10% of Republicans supporting him – but will never graduate to 20%.
He is in a tough spot. He has no ability to sway the election in 2012. Republicans can have a more photogenic choice in Romney, a more masculine choice in Perry, and a wiser foreign policy choice in Newt Gingrich. Virtually all of the candidates in the Republican field espouse a capitalist outlook, so the strength of Ron Paul is not his exclusivity in appeal to libertarians.
Republicans rolled their eyes at Ron Paul’s assertions that marijuana should be legalized. Republicans will not be able to roll their eyes at the natural corollaries of Ron Paul’s foreign policy wisdom – that ending U.S. involvement in supporting the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian lands is the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian question.
With rationales like this, Ron Paul will never be able to serve as a unifying consensus candidate, that much is certain.
Ron Paul’s best option, at this point, is to bow out of the race.