Saturday, May 5, 2007

The GOP Presidential Primary: Is the Fix In?

Murray Sabrin

The first GOP presidential primary “debate” moderated by Chris Matthews was held at the Reagan Library on May 3rd. The 90 minute event did not allow each candidate to give lengthy answers to Matthews’ questions. Nor did the rules of engagement allow for a debate. The “debate” was limited to Matthews trying to get some of the candidates to criticize each other. None took the bait, except for John McCain who said he would not appoint Tom Tancredo head of the Immigration Service if he were president. By far the best moment of the night was Ron Paul’s first response about his anti-war position and why his fellow candidates are wrong. He said:

That's a very good question. And you might ask the question, why are 70 percent of the American people now wanting us out of there, and why did the Republicans do so poorly last year? So I would suggest that we should look at foreign policy. I'm suggesting very strongly that we should have a foreign policy of non-intervention, the traditional American foreign policy and the Republican foreign policy. Throughout the 20th century, the Republican Party benefited from a non-interventionist foreign policy. Think of how Eisenhower came in to stop the Korean War. Think of how Nixon was elected to stop the mess in Vietnam. How did we win the election in the year 2000? We talked about a humble foreign policy: No nation-building; don't police the world. That's conservative, it's Republican, it's pro-American -- it follows the founding fathers. And, besides, it follows the Constitution.
Slam Dunk! Ron Paul also established his limited government credentials after questions posed by Matthews and the co-hosts. To summarize his responses, Anthony Gregory wrote on the blog:
Wow. He kept coming back to a non-interventionist foreign policy, spoke of how inflationary spending was a hidden tax on the poor and middle class, attacked the income tax and IRS, said we need to end the entitlement state and the perpetual imperialism if we want to really cut taxes, defended the Fourth Amendment, said stem-cell research should be left up to the market and the states, came out strongly against a national ID card, defended freedom of expression and speech, never called for more government, and was responsible for the last words said by a candidate at a Republican debate being "habeas corpus."
Ron Paul is Mr. Republican, in the mold of Senator Robert Taft, who was denied the Republican nomination by the Establishment in 1952, and died in 1953 of cancer. America’s political and economic elites are frightened of a Ron Paul presidential candidacy. He would work to abolish the IRS and he would either abolish the Fed or rein in the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies. Ron would work to reduce the size of the federal government to its constitutional duties.

Ron Paul is the greatest threat to America’s welfare-warfare state. In other words, all the special interests who want big government at home and abroad are apoplectic that Ron Paul could win the GOP presidential nomination and bring his case of limited government directly to the American people in the 2008 presidential election.

That’s why the post-debate buzz on MSNBC ignored Ron Paul, despite the fact he was leading the other GOP candidates on the cable channel on-line poll. In a similar vein, Howard Fineman of the Washington Post and MSNBC wrote a commentary about the “second-tier’ candidates right after the May 3rd debate. Regarding Ron Paul, Fineman wrote, “Consider Rep. Ron Paul, a Libertarian Republican from Texas who has opposed the Iraq War from the beginning because of his small-government, isolationist worldview. He is not a nut case but rather a doctor with a degree from Duke Medical School. And he’s steeped in a branch of conservative intellectual history that traces its modern lineage to the Founding Fathers.” (Emphasis added)

Fineman’s left-handed compliment is despicable. How he segues from Ron’s antiwar position to denying he is a nut case is an example of journalistic malpractice. Ron has a 30 year public record of promoting individual liberty. For Fineman to have to remind us that Ron is “not a nut case,” reveals the mainstream media’s widespread bias against limited government candidates. He owes Ron Paul an apology.

Imagine Ron Paul, physician, libertarian, statesman, debating any of the major Democratic candidates in the fall of 2008. Imagine Ron Paul debating Hillary Clinton on healthcare, taxes, and the invasion of Iraq, a policy she voted for. Imagine Ron Paul debating John Edwards on the welfare state and taxes. Imagine Ron Paul debating Barack Obama on the role of government in a free society.

Ron will not get that chance if the political elites rally behind Romney or Giuliani. McCain is kaput. McCain demonstrated once-and-for-all why he should never occupy the Oval Office. He wants to bomb any country that he thinks is a “threat” to America, and from his perspective that includes just every nation that dares to criticize the federal government’s aggressive foreign policy.

Mitt Romney is being touted by the Establishment because he “looks” presidential. Romney’s performance was smooth, pandering, and McGreevey like. He invoked Ronald Reagan’s name, I think, more than any other candidate. His responses were canned more than any other candidate Thursday night, a la McGreevey in the 1997 New Jersey gubernatorial debates. If the GOP insiders think Romney is their man, they will start pulling the plug on Giuliani soon. If negative stories in the press begin appearing about Rudy, you know the fix is in.

The 2008 presidential election will reveal what road the American people want the country to travel for the next several decades. With Ron Paul we will travel the road of peace, noninterventionism and liberty. The political elites with the mainstream media’s complicity will want to maintain America’s welfare-warfare state. That is what is at stake in the next presidential election.

Murray Sabrin, Ph.D., is professor of finance in the Anisfield School of Business, Ramapo College of New Jersey, where he is executive director of the Center for Business and Public Policy.