Aw, Hucks, Iowa…

Mark Styen asks on NRO’s Corner:

Byron, so a bad night for Ron Paul then?

That’s wishful thinking for the neocons.  This is a great night for Ron Paul.  Conservatives nationwide are not going to accept Mike Huckabee, a tax-hiking, big-spending, regulation-lovin’ liberal. But with Romney exposed for the hollow man he is, to whom can they turn?  The pundits are boosting McCain, who might win New Hampshire.  But McCain, who votes again tax cuts and of course gave us McCain-Feingold, is also unpopular among conservatives.  I expect a great many Republicans, conservatives especially, will start asking themselves how they wound up with a choice between McCain and Huckabee.  They’ve come to that end by throwing their faux-conservatives whose only appeal was their illusory electability: Romney and Thompson.

Huckabee’s win and Romney’s decline throws the race wide open.  Giuliani, another non-conservative, is well-positioned for a comeback, too: he isn’t going to lose his base among East Coast Rockefeller Republicans to Huckabee, and I suspect they’ll stick with him over McCain as well.  If Huckabee can beat McCain in South Carolina, Giuliani might suddenly become the “stop Huckabee” candidate and win in Florida, then be in a strong position going into Feb. 5’s super-duper Tuesday.

Thompson’s relatively strong performance in Iowa is bad news for Romney as well, since the two of them are competing for the same “electability”constituency.  They’ll produce a drag on one another in South Carolina, Florida, and on Feb. 5.  (I don’t know what will happen in Michigan, where Romney might stage a comeback, but that would probably not cancel out a poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire.)

With the unelectable “electability” candidates eliminated, the clash will come down to a fight over Republican principles.  Admittedly, the Republican Party and its principles are in poor shape: after eight years of Bush, all too many Republicans are either Huckabee-style “compassionate” liberals, or Giuliani-style authoritarians.  And the McCain cult of personality and “Bull Moose” tendency has its adherents too.   Against all these big-government perversions of conservatism, however, there will stand a clear alternative: the candidate who is for much smaller government; a realistic, peaceful foreign policy; who is pro-life but who never abuses religion for his own advancement: Ron Paul.  I’d say a battle on principles is exactly the battleground on which Paul has the most natural advantages.  It’ll be a hard fight, and the anti-Paul forces are massive, but with the “inevitable” candidate and conservative movement consensus choice, Romney, already down and very nearly out, anything can happen.

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4 thoughts on “Aw, Hucks, Iowa…

  1. John Lowell January 4, 2008 / 10:55 pm

    Why encourage the illusion that Paul will find significant support among Republicans partial to conservative economics? The Republican primaries can only serve to keep Paul more in the limelight than he would have been had he cast his lot with the Vegetarians from the outset. Beyond that, there can be no futher purpose to a Paul Republican candidacy. Paul, if he is to have any continuing impact, must decide upon a Libertarian or independent candidacy at the earliest possible moment. Otherwise, the illusion will be created that a genuine anti-system candidate exists in Obama and those with related sympathies will find a home there. Paul’s strength politically is in his non-interventionism, not his economic conservatism. Not a lot of votes at the local Jaycees.

  2. Daniel McCarthy January 7, 2008 / 2:17 am

    There’s a lot to be accomplished by campaigning within a major party. Unsuccessful major-party campaigns like those of Goldwater in 1960 and Reagan in 1976 have had much more impact than third-party bids like Ross Perot’s or Pat Buchanan’s (which I supported). The Buchanan Reform campaign undercut PJB’s later influence on the GOP, even when the issues that he had been talking about all along — foreign policy, immigration, judges — became ones that Bush flubbed. What would have happened if Buchanan had stayed in the GOP and challenged Bush in 2004? He might not have beaten Bush, but the long struggle to take the GOP away from the neocons would have been significantly advanced, and when the Bush-Rove-Neocon axis was discredited in 2006, the Buchanan faction would have been in position to clean house.

  3. John Lowell January 20, 2008 / 7:47 pm

    Hello Dan,

    Just now catching up on your comment.

    A lot is presupposed here. For example, that Paul’s influence within today’s Republican Party is in any way comparable to Goldwater’s in 1964 or Reagan’s in 1976, which, of course, it isn’t. And Buchanan, after decades of familiarity with the Republican Party, left it in 2000 precisely because full-bore attempts to change it earlier had had no impact. Buchanan was about as influential in the Republican circles as a Republican as he was as Reform Party standard bearer, and much less of a threat. Today, of course, Buchanan still needs live down his atrociously ill-advised Bush endorsement in 2004. He is simply too unreliable to be taken seriously anymore. A far better model, in my view, would be Paul Craig Roberts.

    It seems to me that the most pressing question is anti-interventionism. Paul is right to prioritize it over all else as it would seem to be the lynchpin of any further economic reform. But such an idea will find no consonance in today’s Republican Party. If friends of economic reform are to be sought, one stands a better chance today of finding them within the far reaches of the Democratic Party, not that I am in any way hopeful of the actual formation of any such alliances. We’re better off on our own playng on the one string we’ve got: Ron Paul. I hope he runs as an independent. I won’t vote otherwise.

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