The Zombie Campaign


The early days of a presidential campaign are difficult times for a political pundit.  We’ve all got candidates we just can’t support, and others we think have no chance of winning.  When they’re not the same people, the pundit has to decide if he wants to hold his tongue about someone who isn’t his favorite candidate, but has good electoral prospects… or help to turn the doom of “he just can’t win” into a self-fulfilling prophecy for a candidate he personally likes. 

Sometimes, however, the people you can’t support are the same people who just can’t win.  Ron Paul is like that for me. 

I’m not even the slightest bit impartial when it comes to this Presidential race.  The defeat of Barack Obama is absolutely crucial for America’s future.  We stand at a major point of decision about the future of this country, and if the American electorate chooses Obama again, it will ride its illusions down into ruin.  We won’t get another chance to make the choice we’re about to make.

Ron Paul wasted everyone’s time by formally announcing his zombie candidacy on Friday, three days after he killed it stone-dead by saying he wouldn’t have gone after Osama bin Laden.  Instead, he said he would have asked the Pakistani police to arrest him.  He said killing bin Laden was “absolutely not necessary,” suggested it was contrary to “respect for the rule of law and world law and international law,” and wondered what we would have done if bin Laden had “been in a hotel in London.”

This is not merely wrong, but delusional.  No one who needs the many differences between bin Laden’s lair in Abbottabad, and a hotel in London, explained to him has any business running for President.  Republicans need a candidate who can win the election, not one who turns himself into a side-show and wonders why everyone is running off to watch the main event in the big tent. 

Paul is now trying to “clarify” his bin Laden remarks.  The winning candidate in 2012 will be someone who understands that certain remarks cannot be clarified.

I don’t disagree with Ron Paul about everything.  That makes watching him run for President more painful.  Earlier this week, John Stossel wrote a great encomium to Paul’s success at slowly changing public opinion about difficult libertarian ideas.  That’s a very different sort of achievement from running for President. 

I don’t want Paul to clam up and go away – on the contrary, the Federal Reserve chairman should be required to listen to a Ron Paul speech every day, just like Caesar had a guy following him around and whispering “Remember, thou art mortal.”  Paul just isn’t doing any good for his good ideas by running a pointless Presidential campaign, drawing both attention and valuable campaign support away from viable candidates.

Republicans need a candidate who has mastered the intricacies of American politics, and will not be crushed in mid-campaign by forces he will never understand. Ron Paul has a long history of saying things that would get him crushed – this is just the latest, and most spectacular, example.  Give him credit for intellectual consistency if you wish, but we don’t need a consistent loser who spends 2013 telling his supporters how unfair the landslide defeat of 2012 was.