How Conan O'Brien Sees Ron Paul, and How Ron Paul Rises in Iowa


That surprisingly raucous new Ron Paul ad "Big Dog" (which I guess I like, kind of, but its tone made me agree with a common comment thread jibe I was seeing about it: "Ron Paul's Got Electrolytes!!") is getting plenty of attention, and last night drew a Conan O'Brien parody–yet another addition to the ever growing file of unexpected new attention to the candidate everyone used to love to ignore. 

The Conan bit:

While it is half mocking the brawny "…to the EXTREME!!" tone and look of Paul's original, the actual content is telling about what the middlebrow intelligentsia for whom I think Conan thinks he speaks believe about Paul's particular brand of hardcore fiscal libertarianism: that trying to balance the budget the way Paul wants to will lead to a post-apocalyptic blood in the streets nightmare. While I laughed at that as comedy, combatting the idea that only a multi-trillion dollar federal government budget stands between us and the abyss is something Paul and those who think like Paul still need to work on. (Paul is intelligently quick to note, in his personal appearances, that there are plenty of places that can and should be cut before cutting aid for the destitute that people have become dependent on, though that aspect of his thinking hasn't gotten a ton of media attention.)

*Great Ron Paul on CNN clip from yesterday with Brooke Baldwin. I've been watching Ron speak publicly since 1988, and he is (most of the time) getting better at facing opposition on his feet.

This is a particular nifty CNN clip from yesterday, covering Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition debate Paul was excluded from (Paul grants them their right to exclude him as a private organization, but adds that  "we should be friends with Israel and trade with them…but to commit another generation, we don't have the right to do it and if necessary to get involved in a war the president doesn't make that decision, the people do through a declaration of war in the Congress…I worry about carelessness of going to war every time we want…we are involved in too many wars, if Netanyahu says he doesn't need our troops over there why aren't I allowed to say that as well?"); his electoral prospects, and war.

When the interviewer suggested Paul's radical views put him "in a box," he replies: "America's in a box, I'm not in a box!….The boxing in is the American taxpayer and these unlimited commitments and endless war….I don't want anyone to have [nuclear weapons]…but I don't want to be going to war against another country that doesn't have a nuclear weapon and they're not even on the verge of it."

*ABC News notes that Paul is absolutely in there swinging with supposed dual front-runners Gingrich and Romney in Iowa, and quotes him on the Newt's personal problems:

When asked about the Gingrich's alleged infidelity and two divorces, Paul said"people have a right to know" about the "problems in his personal life."

"But I don't think that that should be the big deal," Paul said. "When it comes to Gingrich I think everyone knows about the problems he has had in his personal life, but I think we need to know more about his policies  and I think that is much more important."

And Paul already has a campaign ad about Gingrich's policies that also got some nice play lately.

*Ron Paul on Judge Napolitano questions the whole "flavor of the month" phenomenon in the GOP race yesterday, links Gingrich to Obama via their mutual love of Teddy Roosevelt, and mocks Bernanke's claim that Congress should have known all along about all money the Fed was floating to their banker buddies.

*At the Daily Caller, Paul campaign advisor Bruce Fein defends Ron Paul as properly hawkish where it counts–actually defending America, not engaging in dangerous imperial adventures:

His foreign policy would be an adaptation of the Founding Fathers' creed saluted in the Constitution's preamble: Billions for a common defense, but not one cent for extravagant preemptive wars seeking world domination, a risk-free existence, and a planet purged of tyranny and sin. He would not spend $120 billion annually to confront 50 members of al Qaida in Afghanistan with 100,000 troops when international terrorists can be captured or killed with special forces.

Ron Paul would close the hundreds of U.S. military bases abroad, redeploy weapons and soldiers now dedicated to defending foreigners and foreign countries to the U.S. to defend American sovereignty and Americans, and end our multiple treaty obligations that require us to wage war in defense of other nations. Our government shouldn't send Americans abroad on quests to secure the liberty of foreigners.

*Andrew Sullivan notes that Fox News seems to want you to know Ron Paul can't win, objective reality notwithstanding: 

Last night, I sat through both O'Reilly and Hannity to get a read on the Ailes propaganda at this moment in time. The line on Paul is clear: they all say in unison at any available moment: "Ron Paul has zero chance of getting the nomination." They never said that about Cain or Bachmann or Perry, over whom Paul has solid leads. 

For context on where this is all coming from, see my February 2008 Reason cover feature on the dawn of the Ron Paul Revolution.