the national interest

No, Really, Ron Paul Cannot Win

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) speaks during the ABC News GOP Presidential debate on the campus of Drake University on December 10, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
You’ve made your point. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Andrew Sullivan, following up his (Republican primary) endorsement of Ron Paul, argues today that campaign reporters and pundits who say he can’t win the nomination are all wrong:


We were told one thing after his extensive riff last week on the paranoia around Iran’s nuclear weapons, his defense of blowback theory in our encounters with Jihadist terrorism, and his open denunciation of the greatest mistake of his own party in the last decade, the Iraq war (where every other candidate is silent). We were told this ended his candidacy, that there was no constituency for this in the current GOP, that he was throwing it all away, that he has, as the Ailes memo clearly has it, zero chance of getting the nomination.

Well: now he’s ahead in Iowa. And, yes, it remains a long, long, long shot. But you know what?

Yes he can.

No, he really can’t. It would be nearly impossible to imagine the Republican Party nominating a candidate who spent years and years publishing a racist newsletter and has deep associations with the fringe far right. (Here he is speaking to the John Birch Society on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.) It would be even more impossible to imagine the Party nominating a candidate who favors total withdrawal from world affairs and takes a Chomsky-ite line on American power. The notion that the Party might nominate a candidate who does both these things is totally preposterous.

Now, Andrew is framing his argument as an argument against a zero chance. Well, sure. It’s not zero. Paul could win the nomination. It’s also possible that Democrats will follow the Schoen–Caddell plan of nominating Hillary Clinton over President Obama, and Obama will flip to the GOP, and Republicans will nominate Obama, and the general election will be Clinton-Obama II: This Time It’s for All the Marbles. It’s possible Newt Gingrich will announce the result of a secret experiment he undertook to resurrect Ronald Reagan through saved brain DNA, implanted in the body of a dinosaur created through similar methods, and that Reaganosaurus will rampage through the Republican field, capture the nomination and, in a climactic debate with Obama, devour him in a single bite. But reporters have good reason to ignore possibilities such as those or a Ron Paul nomination.

Paul’s supporters seem to believe that the media ignoring him is the only thing keeping him from challenging for the Party nomination. More likely, it’s the only thing that’s allowed his candidacy to progress to this point. If more people actually understood the full scope of Paul’s fringe-right views, a huge portion of his support would peel off.

No, Really, Ron Paul Cannot Win