Monday, May 21, 2007

Ron Paul, the Howard Dean of the 2008 campaign

Andrew Sullivan, discussing the increasing online popularity of Republican candidate Ron Paul makes an interesting comparison:
Paul also has serious online support. Like Howard Dean – another crank – Ron Paul’s supporters are overrepresented on the web. They blasted all the online polls about the debate, and Paul thereby “won” or came second in the debate, according to the ABC News poll, the Fox News poll and almost every other online poll out there. His campaign has deployed YouTube to great effect as well, and the hostility of the Republican establishment has only given his little political insurgency more oxygen.
Like Dean, Ron Paul is considered a crank because of his views on the Iraq war and his rejection of the idea that 9/11 changed everything. The fiscally conservative, gun-toting, small state governor had been branded a liberal nutcase, only when he declared that Saddam Hussein's capture didn't make America safer, that Iraq never posed a threat to the United States and that the Iraq war was a huge distraction from the fight against bin Laden. The fact that he thought the Patriot Act was an assault on civil liberties only reinforced the view that Dean was a left-wing lunatic.

Dean became popular because he was the only voice in the Democratic race willing to challenge Bush directly on the war. For that he was branded a radical, and his fellow Democrats issued the fiercest attacks. John Kerry demanded he apologize for his comment about Saddam - just as Giuliani now demands Ron Paul apologize for his views on the causes of 9/11.

Dean lost his bid, but he was the catalyst that showed Democrats how to challenge a disastrous policy. By 2006 his views were shared by the overwhelming majority of Democrats and independents and helped lead to their victory at the polls. (Although he'll be branded a crank forever).

Ron Paul now stands as the only Republican who'll challenge the president directly on the war. Let's hope he can be the catalyst that brings his party back to reason as well.

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