Bastion of Liberal Media Elites embraces Ron Paul

I said something critical of the crop of current GOP contenders yesterday (OK, I called them crooks, panderers, and liars), and someone immediately commented that I sounded like an “Obama fan.”

Such has long been the knee-jerk reflex of most Americans: Someone who says unkind things about a Republican must be a hardcore liberal, and someone who badmouths a Democrat must be an incorrigible rightwinger. The unalterable binary nature of our political system is presupposed by either side.

I see no real evidence that that’s changing, but if an article on the blog of The New Yorker is to be believed, I could be wrong. And for once, I’d be plenty happy about donning the dunce cap.

As both a fan of The New Yorker and someone who likes most of Ron Paul’s economic and political ideas (if not his complicity in this vileness), I suppose I imagined the two icons in separate spheres. The New Yorker is part of the politely-liberal East Coast intelligentsia. For all its brainy bona fides, the magazine rarely gives any indication that it understands the most fundamental ideas from the right or even the center of the political spectrum. Paul, of course, is the GOP candidate who wants to take away many of the playthings that liberals treasure, and who seeks to torch the overriding liberal notion that in matters of government, bigger is better.

It’s quite a jolt to the system to see that, inexplicably, the twain have met.

Writer John Cassidy argues (admittedly with a backhanded compliment) that Paul “isn’t just another right-wing nut,” and likens the man’s candidacy to Barack Obama’s, four years ago:

At this point in 2007, the young senator from Illinois seemed to many Democrats to be something thrillingly fresh: an independent-minded figure who would challenge a stale and corrupted politics. Paul doesn’t have Obama’s youth or his charisma, which was partly based on the anticipation of seeing a whip-smart black man in the White House. But a surprising number of disillusioned Americans find in Paul, for all his impractical proposals and extremist baggage, a similar hope for a new type of politics: one that isn’t beholden to the two major parties.

That is why Paul is important. Even a big victory for him next week [in Iowa] won’t necessarily tell us much about the ultimate outcome of the Republican race: the pundits are right about that. It is virtually impossible to see Paul emerging as the nominee. But his popularity tells us something deeper about American politics and the popular alienation that now attends it — on the left and the right.

May this tremor of discontent be the harbinger of a political earthquake.

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On the topic of false left/right binary thinking, my friend Nicolas Eyle, years ago, gifted me this wonderfully exact description of something I had been struggling to express:

I’ve often thought the description of political thought is less of a line going from left to right than a circle. The farther you go to the left or right you tend to come back to the same place. There isn’t much difference between big government on the right that we call fascist and big government on the left we call communist. Both are totalitarian systems subjecting the individual to the whims of those in power. Somewhere in the circumference of that circle, at the opposite point from totalitarianism, is where, I believe, most readers of Nobody’s Business are.

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The Washington Post may also be shedding some of its on-autopilot liberal leanings in favor of a post-partisan world view. Witness today’s article entitled, cleanly and clearly, “Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing.” Here’s the gist:

In the space of three years, the administration has built an extensive apparatus for using drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of other adversaries. The apparatus involves dozens of secret facilities, including two operational hubs on the East Coast, virtual Air Force­ ­cockpits in the Southwest, and clandestine bases in at least six countries on two continents. Other commanders in chief have presided over wars with far higher casualty counts. But no president has ever relied so extensively on the secret killing of individuals to advance the nation’s security goals.

The rapid expansion of the drone program has blurred long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military. Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte, piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities that govern the use of lethal force. …

Senior Democrats barely blink at the idea that a president from their party has assembled such a highly efficient machine for the targeted killing of suspected terrorists. It is a measure of the extent to which the drone campaign has become an awkward open secret in Washington that even those inclined to express misgivings can only allude to a program that, officially, they are not allowed to discuss.

By the way, remember when Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his nomination having arrived not even two weeks after he took office? Given how good and how very proficient the president has turned out to be at blowing people to smithereens, I bet the Nobel Committee now sees the award as wishful thinking at best, and as an embarrassing bit of blinkered idiocy at worst.

About Rogier:
Rogier is a Dutch-born, New-England-dwelling multi-media maven (OK, a writer and photographer) whose dead-tree publishing credits include the New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Reason.
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2 Comments

  1. Mark
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Circumference? Circle? How ’bout a diamond?

  2. Posted December 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that’ll work, but it doesn’t illustrate as neatly the opposite-from-totalitarian point that Nicky made.