I'm thrilled that Michelle Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll yesterday. Not because I'm already committed to her candidacy ( I'm not); rather, it's because Ron Paul didn't win.
Think about it. Had Paul's loyalists managed to drag 153 MORE supporters to Ames, it would be Ron Paul today doing the "Ginsburg tour" of all the Sunday talk shows, and we'd be seeing ad nauseum his clip reassuring us that a nuclear armed Iran poses no danger, and his then being asked if he really meant it? (He did)
Paul is dangerous. To the GOP. To our chances to beat Obama in 2012. Heck..he manages to give libertarianism a bad name. National defense is one of the areas clearly defined in the Constitution as a vital, if not THE most important, function of the federal government. Making government smaller, a worthwhile goal to be sure, can't be construed as ignoring an obvious, dangerous military threat.
How soon before his son, Sen. Rand Paul, is asked if he agrees with his father's views on Iran. He's been campaigning with his dad, so does he now repudiate his father? If ( heaven help us) Rand endorses his dad's views, that will cause turmoil in the Tea party, the movement that is now successfully redefining the Republican party, and pointing to a 2012 victory.
The straw poll has changed the GOP field. Pawlenty is out, and we now have a top tier of three: Bachmann, Romney, and Perry. And possibly Palin. The others will shuffle and reshuffle themselves over the next 4-5 months. Several will drop out, due to lack of poll support, and difficulties raising funds.
But not Paul. He has a core base of support..at least 5%, and substantial fundraising. And as we get deep into the debate season, and the primaries, he will be there until the bitter end. Indeed he's announced that he's NOT running for Congress, in order to devote all his time to the WH bid. This is his LAST HURRAH. He will be the 2012 version of Dennis Kucinich in the 2008 Dem debates, except far more dangerous.
Mark my words. If Paul is not dealt with, and soon, we will regret it. His views and comments on Iran are just as crazy as Cynthia McKinney's, and she's now just about ignored by everyone on the left. Yet we're going to continue to give Paul a national forum, and equal stature with our ultimate candidate.
The GOP message to the independent/undecided electorate in the country ( which is what's left when you subtract out the ABO's..anyone but Obama.. and the hard core Dem/lib base) MUST be about the economy, and correcting the multitude of mistakes commited by Obama. On national security issues, our message should be united, and consistent: Obama has made the world a far more dangerous place. Instead, Paul will force the other GOP candidates to make national security a key issue, in effect the GOP will have to debate our role in Afghanistan in advance of the election. This only resounds to Obama's benefit.
A long time ago, Bill Buckley finally had it with the Birchers, and led the effort to drive them out of the mainstream GOP. It may be time to consider a similar fate for Ron Paul.
Unrelated note: As I am writing this, I'm listening to Bachmann's interview with David Gregory on MTP. It was the expected hatchet job, to be sure, but he cleaned her clock. She came across poorly..vague, somewhat stammering..weak answers. Surely she had to expect questions along these lines. Bad, bad performance, moreso coming about 12 hours after her big win. Not quite ready for prime time..