Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Slow Down

Dave Weigel writes this morning that Ron Paul's newsletters are "either a boutique issue that isn't connecting with people, a confusing issue that raises 'liberal media bias' hackles with conservatives, or both." That's based on comparing last week's PPP poll with the one released last night.

He could be right! On the other hand, as he says the newsletters were first back in the news in a Weekly Standard story late last week, which for normal people was probably swallowed completely by Christmas. They didn't really get a lot of traction until just the last couple of days -- while the poll was already in the field. And it's not clear to me to what extent those newsletters were brought to the attention of rank-and-file voters in Iowa, as opposed to die-hard political junkies.

To be fair: Iowa caucus attendees are hardly typical voters. They're more interested in politics, and far more likely to encounter this kind of stuff than are regular general election voters. But still: this sounds to me a little like all of the people who were claiming a week into the anti-Newt onslaught that he was immune to attacks for whatever reasons. It's very possible that it just will take a bit of time to sink in.

17 comments:

  1. As I posted in the last discussion, the newsletters seem likely to matter most to Ron Paul's liberal cross-over supporters. I wonder who would have the interest, the resources, and the credibility to really drive the issue home (say, through direct mail). Romney clearly loves Ron Paul's performing well, Newt doesn't have the resources, and Perry / Santorum / Bachmann are all (understandably) obsessing over evangelicals. Maybe Huntsman in New Hampshire?

    You're certainly right about Christmas drowning out this issue. The newsletters are most likely to attract public attention during the week between Iowa and New Hampshire, especially if Ron Paul wins the caucuses.

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  2. I remember hearing about the newsletters in 07/08, so isn't it also possible that, for your hard-core caucus goers, this is old news?

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  3. Weigel is only correct to the extent that he's responding to foolish talking heads who pronounce "this is the end for Paul" every five minutes. Richard is right, Paul could get really whacked with this after Iowa... most people know nothing about it and the media will be happy to correct that.

    Paul also has the misfortune of not being able to rely on the right wing media to cover him from any onslaught. In fact, conservative talk radio has been gunning for Paul over the past several weeks now... his chances would be much better without them. From the new PPP Iowa poll: "Paul leads Romney 38-13 with the 48% of likely caucus votes who _don't_ regularly watch Fox News." (of course, correlation is not necessarily causation here...)

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  4. Speaking of the newsletters sinking in, Mike Konczal's take on them is worth a read:

    http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-era-of-the-ron-paul-newsletters-isnt-even-past/

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  5. Weigel and Bernstein ----> More zionists teaming up on Ron Paul or (insert anyone who criticizes Israel), what else is new...its like cock roaches that just came out at night.
    I guess America is getting a taste of what Nazi Germany was like as a beaten child does it to another.... censorship, spin, and control of media...it wont last.

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  6. Anonymous - I guess Weigel forgot he was part of the great Jewish conspiracy when he publicly stated he was voting for Ron Paul in 2008?

    Epic Jewish conspiracy Fail

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  7. Having participated in roasting Paul over the newsletters, I've lately felt there's an overlooked explanation for the newsletters, which may also explain why they haven't damaged his candidacy:

    Let's say that Lew Rockwell wrote the offensive pieces. (That seems quite likely at this point.) Let's further assume that Rockwell is one of the legion of xenophobic assholes attracted to libertarianism as a front to throw off government attempts to prevent us from abusing each other.

    If Ron Paul is going to be the flagbearer of the American libertarian movement, he will undoubtedly be the ringleader of a circus filled with xenophobic assholes like (apparently) Rockwell. For ideological purity, the optimal choice for Paul would be to flush such folks out of his orbit.

    But its pretty obviously not the case that allowing Rockwell to publish that crap is an indication that Paul is either a racist or an intentional panderer to racists. Paul might be. But Paul may just as easily have been a panderer to Lew Rockwell.

    Which is distasteful, but really doesn't reflect necessarily on Paul's Presidential bona fides. All we know is that Ron Paul's ideology invites some unusually unsavory bedfellows, and he hasn't always behaved ideally with such folks.

    Really, though, the crime outlined in the paragraph above elicits little more than a yawn. Which may explain why the newsletters haven't really hurt his campaign all that much.

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  8. Re: “Let’s say that Lew Rockwell wrote the offensive pieces. (That seems quite likely at this point.)”

    Honest question: why does that seem likely? I am not aware of any reason (other than Paul's own disclaimer, which I do not find credible in the least) to think that anyone other than Paul himself wrote his newslestters.

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  9. I really haven't followed any of that part of it closely, but as a general point betting that a politician didn't actually write whatever words appear under his or her name is almost always a good bet.

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  10. “...betting that a politician didn't actually write whatever words appear under his or her name is almost always a good bet.”

    Fair point. Thanks.

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  11. David Frum, (who should know) says courting paranoid racists was a deliberate play libertarians made in the '90's. Not very successful, but deliberate.

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  12. I liked Tomasky's point:

    "And so, the real reason the truth is likely to remain unexamined, stated directly: Among Republicans and conservatives, there simply aren’t enough people who care whether he’s a racist or not. If there were a demand for an explanation, he would supply one. But there is not."

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/23/michael-tomasky-time-for-ron-paul-to-fully-answer-racism-charges.html

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  13. CSH: I agree with where you're going there-- Paul's laissez-faire management style is most likely to blame for the newsletters. It raises questions about his readiness to be President. Questions that are answered by his management of a successful campaign.

    But he still shares moral blame for his negligence and the issue will be whether voters can forgive him. This new superPAC ad might help on that score: http://youtu.be/8Rv0Z5SNrF4

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  14. @Couves, is it's Paul successful management of his campaign, or another manager, like he had for his newsletters? George Bush also had an effective, successful campaign, as did Obama, but that didn't bode well for their governance. I've decided that "ran a good campaign" is not a qualifier for office. It hasn't tested out well.

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  15. @MP - He may not have any more direct control of his campaign than he did of his newsletters. Which is exactly the point. Success means putting the right people in the right places and giving them marching orders that serve the ultimate goal. More than running a newsletter, running a campaign is a test of Paul's managerial prowess. When Obama ran for office, much was made of the fact that his campaign proved that he had the personal attributes of a capable leader.

    But does running a good campaign actually bode well for good governance? Well, since we don't get to experience the governance of the losers, it's hard to say, isn't it?

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  16. @Couves: unless you think that there's a lot of dumb luck involved in winning campaigns. (Which isn't to say that campaign quality doesn't matter, just that there's luck, too)

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  17. @Matt Jarvis - Of course, I'm not saying this is scientific proof of anything. The ability to run a successful campaign is just one more thing for voters to consider. But if you compare Paul's campaign to Newt's, I think you get a sense for who would be a better President.

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