Charley Bravo - 1/3/12
Ron Paul takes it. Chalk it up to a combination of superior organization, quasi-endearing crankiness, a youth component - and primarily a hyper-critique of foreign policy. It won't matter that the libertarian schtick is a combination of irrationality and potential economic catastrophe. His support may be faulted for naivete and a lack of philosophical sophistication; and yet, it is difficult to question the cogency of a building distaste for America's overwrought military/foreign policy footprint.
While the remainder of the GOP engages in stupefying advocacy of war with Iran (arguably violating the Nuremberg Principles) - and Democratic apparatchiki either embrace or fear the sacred military cow, the space of out front, unapologetic critique is left to - well - this crazy libertarian dude. Problem is, though he elaborates his stance on the basis of "consistency and principle" in a mechanized libertarian calculus, the dubious, paint-by-numbers means is less important than the end. In other words, it doesn't matter how or why he targets military/foreign policy issues but merely that he does so with few holds barred.
In a jaw dropping move, cracking the monochromatic groupthink of GOP foreign policy rot, Paul corrected Santorum in an early debate when the latter claimed we'd been at war with Iran since 1979. And not only has he pointed out the CIA/MI6 overthrow of Iranian democracy in 1953, he recently challenged Sean Hannity on Fox over the outright myth that Ahmadinejad is committed to "wipe Israel off the map". This is stuff that just isn't done in polite media society. Before 2011, I'd have bet one would never see such a thing, much less "within" the GOP.
Sure, this shocks many GOP yahoos who, behind their nonsensical "Christian" veneer, if put to the test couldn't draw 4 nations on a blank map of Africa and the Middle East. And there's obviously plenty of these folks in Iowa. But even there we're seeing too many people beginning to question previously sacrosanct premises of empire. Suddenly 10+ super-carrier battle groups looks questionable when no other nation has even one. Calling military expenditures "defense" buggers the bounds of euphemism. And nebulous intonations of "American Interests" alongside a profusion of overseas bases and loaded Trident submarines begins to grate on the nerves - if not the remnants of intellect.
Now some might contend the caucuses must veer for Romney if "electability" is the criterion. I'm betting there's a latent hunch this begs the question, since Romney comes off as a slick mannequin programmed with a comedic litany of anti-Obama slogans bereft of argumentative weight. It's only the foreground of serial GOP buffoonery dominating media "analysis" that's obscured Romney's lame opportunism. Moreover, "electability" suggests a machiavellian reflection of ubiquitous political consultants, likely foisted on an electorate who, when push comes to shove, would rather advance a standard bearer capable of animating important questions and challenges to the status quo - win or lose. Rather, even if in the throes of libertarian contortionism (redoubled in bracketing the "newsletter fiasco"), many may be more interested in trying to advance something like "rationality".
Romney will be stalled by too many evangelicals polishing veneer and opting for hopeless purity with Santorum leading a Jesus drag show. Enough vapid emotion there to inflate Frank Lunz for years. No, another faith will steal the show - or so it will seem. For it won't be libertarianism per se as much as a quixotic vehicle for driving an anti-militaristic point. The recent flap over the National Defense Authorization Act just adds gasoline.
If I'm right our cable political soap opera will turn to hand-wringing over an emerging force, a new "sick and tired", aimed squarely at the military/foreign policy status quo. It may be a good time to see a scientific surmise put to a kind of test. Namely the possibility that even stale avatars of religious/metaphysical dogmatism can, at times, promote non-pathological, even positive ends. Or is it that I'm turning somersaults in a vain hope that the loathsome libertarian fad might somehow pay off?
Regardless, it must be said that the terrain of American military/foreign policy exceptionalism has already begun to change irrevocably. Just a year ago today a story appeared heralding challenges nobody anticipated. And it's not like Obama has been either flat footed or absolutely tone deaf. Still, given the stakes and after enduring the reality TV debate farce, if the upshot were a red hot poker pointed in the right direction, things could certainly be worse.