Ron Paul on "Meet the Press"
I just finished watching. I'm afraid I had my usual reaction. I felt let down, like something was missing. For one thing, Ron Paul talks too much about the Constitution and too little about liberty and justice. War in Korea would okay if Congress wanted it? When was the last time Congress voted for a declaration of war without the president asking for it?
He also sounded unprepared. If he is going to call for ending the income tax (why that one and not the others?) and for bringing all the troops home, he should know the numbers. He looks like he's winging it. No excuse for that.
The immigration answer was a disaster. He persists in speaking of an invasion. How offensive! He's lucky Russert wasn't better prepared. How does Ron Paul know we'd have fewer immigrants if the welfare state were abolished? I think we'd have more, considering how attractive the economic environment would be. But would he open the borders then? I'm not convinced he would. I am more and more suspicious of this welfare-state rationalization for immigration control. It has worn so thin there is virtually nothing left of whatever credibility it had.
I think I'll stop watching news of the campaign. I'm tired of being disappointed.
Cross-posted at Free Association.
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Greg Newburn - 12/24/2007
Would it kill Ron Paul to say something empathetic about the 9/11 victims? It would go a long way to helping his image as a 9/11 Truther/conspiracy kook. Russert gave him a hanging curve ball with that Dondero attack, and Paul struck out.
Mark Brady - 12/24/2007
Sheldon Richman - 12/23/2007
I am also surprised that he didn't have set sound-bite answers. Most of the questions were predictable ones that he's gotten over and over. Example: he was asked about earmarks for his district. I think his answer is reasonable (if the money is already taken and is being given out why not get some of it back?), but it was poorly and defensively phrased. He fell into Russert's trap. Same with his answer to the term-limits question. There is a difference between making choices at the rule-selection level and making choices within the rules you're stuck with. He needs a clear way to explains that.
Greg Newburn - 12/23/2007
At first, I thought, "at least he's honest about not knowing the number of troops abroad." Then I thought, "how the hell does he not know THAT number?"
I wish Ron Paul was better prepared about his particular policy proposals. "Would you abolish X?" Pause, look at the ceiling, think for a moment, and then answer.
He should have easily digestible sound bites for shows like this.
I was impressed with his ability to mostly stay on message, despite wild tangents (the civil war??).
All in all, I agree with your assessment, and I wonder: what would happen if we had a better candidate in Paul's position (i.e., one without the kook associations)?
Less Antman - 12/23/2007
I was also offended by the description of the current levels of immigration as an "invasion," and certainly believe that immigration has been consistently the worst part of his presentation. But I do think today actually planted the idea in the minds of viewers that most libertarians don't agree with him, and since we don't, I'm glad to have it publicized.
Less Antman - 12/23/2007
I thought the foreign policy part of the interview went very well, and so long as war is the health of the state, that counts for a lot. I don't think anyone concluded from the interview that he was in favor of sending troops to Korea if the North attacked, and he said it wouldn't be a threat to America if they did. He simply was adding his point that presidents have been sending troops places without declarations for a long time: that didn't come off as the key point. What was crystal clear was that the maintenance of empire was destroying our economy, harming the world, and building hatred. He managed to point out the folly of stationing troops in the Middle East and giving unquestioned support to Israel as well. He called for abolishing all foreign aid, and effectively questioned the existence of the FBI and CIA, while getting in a shot against torture. That is a heck of a lot to accomplish in one TV interview.
On immigration, the LP platform position of 1988 was quoted, and Paul retreated from his usual stuff about securing the borders, time-restricted visas, and immigration quotas, emphasizing the "economic means" of denying taxpayer benefits to illegals. I didn't like the stuff about amending the constitution to deny birthright citizenship, even though the entire concept of citizenship is irrelevant to my anarchist heart, although I think it was thankfully buried in the back and forth about whether amending the constitution was constitutional. Whether the number of immigrants will go up or down with a stronger economy isn't a matter of principle, but he sounded more positive on immigration than in other forums, and didn't get into the "enforcing the law" part of his platform (or immigration quotas or time-restricted visas). I thought libertarianism came off well.
He definitely needs to have a few numbers in his head to better defend the abolition of the income tax. He is right, of course, that a Federal government limited to the functions in the constitution could sustain the cut, but he only did an okay job of convincing people. Not dreadful, though, and the possibility of eliminating it didn't sound like a Martian fantasy.
He was also was solid in calling for an end to drug prohibition, and did a pretty good job of making it sound sensible.
I am thrilled we are to the point that a national interview with so many radical libertarian issues addressed is a disappointment. The only issue where I think he hurt the movement was in strengthening the idea that gradualism was the only moral way to proceed.
The worst part of Paul's interview was about matters of personal character, which may hurt his election chances, but not the libertarian message. I was only bothered to the extent that I thought he was on solid ground on all those charges, but didn't defend himself very well, perhaps because he wasn't used to having his character questioned.
When the campaign is over, we will have a large educational task for the new Paul supporters, many of whom will be open to arguments for full frontal anarchy, and with them on our side on foreign policy and civil liberties and the war on drugs and economic freedom, he will have done the movement enormous good. Faults and all, I think his campaign is significantly increasing the number of libertarians, and massively increasing the number of people who will be open to libertarian ideas.
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