Back when the first GOP wannabe-president debate was announced, Reason pointed to the immediate marginalization of libertarianish candidates such as Rep Ron Paul (R-Texas), despite Dr. No's relatively strong showing in 2008 and his proven ability raise oodles of money, and former two-term Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.), despite the Everest-climbin' triathlete's track record of winning elections in defiance of both his own party's establishment and a two-to-one registration advantage to the Democrats.
Now comes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, channeling the grumpus spirits of his recently deceased colleague David Broder (whom the Post saw fit to send off with the least artful editorial cartoon since the discovery of the Lascaux cave paintings), inveighs against the lack of "grown-ups" at last night's GOP presidential candidates debate in South Carolina.
Here's Milbank on Paul and Johnson:
Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul explained why heroin and prostitution should be legal and why the Department of Homeland Security should be eliminated….
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson argued for eliminating the minimum wage and corporate taxes and for cutting Medicare nearly in half.
Har har har! What zany, immature lads these libertarians be! Here's a fuller context of the Ron Paul's Lou Reed moment (which got a huge response from the crowd):
"Are you suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty?" [asked moderator Chris Wallace in a follow-up up question]
After tripping up a little, Rep. Paul replied "yes," then found himself arguing in favor of legalizing heroin, asking, "if we legalize heroin tomorrow, is everyone is going use heroin? How many people here would use heroin if it were legal?" The question was greeted with cheers, to which Wallace replied with a smile, "I never thought heroin would get an applause in South Carolina."
If Milbank couldn't see any humor or insight in Ron Paul's performance last night—the 12-term congressman laid out full-throated defenses of lifestyle freedom, limited government, and rational approaches to foreign policy for a country currently mired in three wars—well, that's his problem.
And does anyone dast blame Johnson, who called for increasing legal immigration, ending the drug war, and unilateral free trade, for wanting to seriously cut Medicare spending, particularly for wealthy old folks who don't need the extra cash? Isn't tackling "entitlement reform" supposed to be a sign that you're wearing the big-boy pants in the scrum of national politics?
"We'll just have to let the kids fight it out on the playground," Milbank sighs, with the exasperated resignation of a man who has worn one too many pith helmets in the pursuit of serious journalism and who has tuckered himself out with all that thoughtful thinking about "the integrative complexity" of an existing president who has visited all 57 states.
Previous Milbank sighting here.