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PubliusPublicola
01-04-2008, 04:48 AM
I'm sad Paul didn't break 3rd in Iowa, but what's done is done.

I believe Paul can change america, regardless of whether he wins the nomination. His message is vital for the survival of the GOP and for the health of the nation. These are my observations... and I do not expect all Paul fans to like them, but honesty and sincerity is vital right now.

Alan Keyes got 14% in previous Iowa Caucuses with less money. It's time to swallow a big dose of reality, folks. It's better than spinach.

Paul's message is getting lost.

1. His message is getting lost because of his presentation.

He is a wonderful critic of what's going on in the world. However, his being a critic gets expressed at debates with him basically shouting, relying on hyperbole and tearing at "everything." His strength is his ability to criticize what's going on, suggesting that basically the Neocons are insane and that the Republican party has lost its way... becoming big spenders, big government and not too honest. Ron Paul as master critic is what's driving interest in him. However, that isn't translating into votes.

When he switches from critic to policy maker, he really loses people because he's all over the place and then starts talking about things which (I believe) seem too radical that folks just kinda tune him out on the spot. He ends up being perceived as a crazy old man. As my mother says... "he's a funny little man." For the die-hard supporters, his personality and presentation isn't a big deal. Folks love him. Most americans, however, apparently DISLIKE him. They dislike him more than they dislike Hillary Clinton (according to Rasmussen). That's bad.

It's fine to have focused on how many people like him and give him money, but now is the time to focus on why all the others DISLIKE him and don't respect him. It's constraining his message.

I'll be blunt.

Happily taking money from neonazis and being perceived to have support primarily from young, idealistic college students... doesn't play well.

Ranting about how Lincoln was "wrong" in trying to abolish slavery and fighting for a strong union? Come on...

2. His message is getting lost because of his more extreme libertarian talking points.

9/11 is our fault? Abolish the IRS? Destroy the Dept of Education? Bring troops back from Korea? I know the libertarians will find this offensive, but not all Paul fans are rabid libertarians and he IS running for the Republican nomination... not the libertarian nomination. He has important things to say, but these talking points are likely tuning people out.

His choice to continually emphasize some of these points is absurd. Destroy the Dept of Education? Even if he believes this, this is a horrible talking point and few would think it's even possible. While i suspect 9/10 Republicans would instinctively agree that a Federal bureaucracy should by scaled back and drastically cut... he's talking about just flat out destroying it. This doesn't play well to the public, folks. Nobody expects a President to get anything done if they have such strong, uncompromising views. The issue is emphasis. Far too many of his talking points are just so far outside the realm of political consciousness that he comes out sounding like a "funny little man." Thus, his more broad and vital message about foreign policy, state rights, federal power, etc... are all lost because all folks hear are "this guy wants to abolish taxes, put his head in the sand and then destroy the Department of Education."

If he wants to be taken seriously and get his broad message out, he needs to stop focusing on these "zinger" libertarian talking points which turn off voters. Criticism of the government is FINE, but people want to hear pragmatic stuff that makes them nod and remember you.

3. His message is getting lost because he's running for Critic-in-Chief, not President.

His demographic indicates he's resonating with young independents and liberals. Let's be honest. He should doing a lot better in New Hampshire with his libertarian ideas and blunt criticism of the Bush administration.

However, to break beyond his current numbers of basically angry young folks, he needs a clearer vision of what he'll do... what he can accomplish... as President. Frankly, the libertarian criticisms will not suffice. If this campaign is going to be anything more than having a libertarian at the debates, he needs to consolidate a clear vision of pragmatic, bi-partisan and populist actions he wants to take. It's fine to say he'd LIKE to abolish the IRS... but what would he actually get accomplished? People need to hear a practical vision of President Paul.

By comparison, the democrats are all running for Legislator-in-Chief which is why a more executive sounding Republican is likely to win. America will elect a Commander-in-Chief... not a Legislator-in-Chief and not a Critic-in-Chief.

4. His message is getting lost because he isn't changing the terms of the debate.

Ron Paul is positioned to redefine the terms of the debate on issues like immigration, "the war on terror," government spending and such. Instead of getting caught up in the existing terms of the debate, he needs to have talking points which shatter them. I strongly believe people are ready to move beyond the current rhetoric. Today's political rhetoric is almost always extreme black & white.

Example: the "war."

You are either "pro-war" or "anti-war" in the MSM's spin machines. This is absurd and none of the GOP contenders have tried to move beyond this rhetoric.

Instead of representing himself as "anti-war" and being thus marginalized in the eyes of most voters (i dont think even most democrats are truly "anti-war"), Ron Paul should trash this entire way of talking. The dems blundered in 2007 along the same lines, pretending they had an anti-war mandate when it turns out this "surge" approach actually worked (by focusing on al qaeda). There's a lesson to be learned there.

Imagine this very simple line of argument, but put in Ron Paul terms:


Al qaeda attacked us and they are the enemy. A small band of criminals hiding behind religion.

We shouldn't be making up lots of new enemies because of 9/11.

Al qaeda is in afghanistan, pakistan and now in iraq (thanks to our illegal invasion)

We blew it at Tora Bora and then expanded this war to include half the planet. We compromised our own laws and liberties while pretending our survival depended on this all.

This imaginary war against all evil doers and all extremists is going to destroy us from within. We need to focus on the real enemy.

Our soldiers shouldnt be dying for some imaginary crusade to force our culture everywhere. Our credibility has been destroyed.

We're making enemies instead of fighting our real ones.

This isn't about 'pro-war' or 'anti-war.' This is about being clear about who the enemy is and what our purposes are. You cannot win a war without a clear enemy and without a clear purpose.

We're not even really at "war," right now. We're just trying to take care of a pack of criminals and the bush administration has failed to do that.

We need a President who will pick the right fights, stop making new enemies and focus on just dealing with the pack of criminals who attacked us on 9/11.

We can keep a strong military without being spread thin all over the world like some imperial force. The cold war is over. We need to stop behaving like the Roman Empire.


Sound like something Paul can say instead of crying about how every soldier should be home? Instead of falling into the "anti-war" category? Instead of being marginalized by the existing terms of the discussion, he needs to CHANGE the discussion into something where a lot more people can accept new lines of thinking.

You cannot run for Republican nomination as an "anti-war" candidate with al qaeda on the loose, folks. If he actually does think we should have gone after al qaeda... then he needs to hold onto that theme and break beyond this absurd anti-war/pro-war debate.