Thursday, August 18, 2011

Who Buried Paul?

A lot of hay has been made during the past couple of days over the amount of coverage Ron Paul has gotten coming out of last weekend's Iowa straw poll -- namely the fact that the mainstream media have all but ignored him, despite his very close second-place finish. While it's true that it's unfair to pretend like Paul doesn't even exist, Steve Kornacki at Salon tries to nail why the media don't feel like once again falling for the idea that the standard mobilization of a rabid but incredibly small group of Paul supporters means a damn thing in the big political picture.

"Think back to the later months of 2007, when Paul stunned the political world by raising more money than any of the other Republican candidates. No one was quite sure what to make of it. Paul was supposed to be a niche candidate with no chance, but he wasn't raising niche candidate money. Was something revolutionary taking place? The answer came when the primary and caucus season began and Paul performed ... like a niche candidate. He grabbed 10 percent in Iowa, good for fifth place, and 8 percent in New Hampshire, another fifth-place showing, and that was pretty much it. The media filed this under lesson learned: Paul's supporters could make a lot of noise -- but it was misleading noise.

This is why his string of straw poll successes in the past few years -- including last weekend's -- hasn't gotten much notice. And this is probably the way it should be, until and unless Paul can demonstrate that these performances are anything but the product of his army mobilizing for relatively low-turnout events and producing deceptively impressive results. So far, there's not much evidence for this."

Granted, there are two contradictory arguments that can be made here. One is that the amount of media attention a candidate gets can often help drive how seriously he or she is taken. In other words, if the press completely ignores someone, so does the general public; its subtle proclamation that a candidate doesn't deserve to be taken seriously becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The second is that if the political media are supposedly so wise to being taken for a ride, why the hell did they once again chomp on the unbelievable line of bullshit fed to them a few months back by perennial con-man Donald Trump? The easy answer is that Trump makes for great TV and a lot of page hits; Ron Paul just comes off, as Jon Stewart alluded to, like some crazy uncle you hope skips the big Thanksgiving dinner.

While I disagree with him on a lot of issues -- as well as on his overarching libertarian belief-system -- and I really can't stand his insanely fanatical army of fawning acolytes, Ron Paul at least deserves not to be completely overlooked. Or if you are going to overlook him, citing the reasons Kornacki gives, you'd better damn well overlook every other one-note joke who pulls your political chain during campaign season.


Anonymous said...

"In short, no, he will never be president of the United States and no, he is not a plausible contender for the GOP nomination, so those who are covering the campaign don't feel obliged to pretend otherwise," Zorn writes.

Granted he is talking about Ron Paul, but they are give Palin & Bachmann plenty of coverage...

(Sorry for the poor Zorn quote, but I sent this to a friend earlier this week.)

Matt Osborne said...

"a rabid but incredibly small group of Paul supporters" -- extend this to the entire tea party. Bachmann won that straw poll by energizing them to come from all over the state, but they aren't even a majority within their own party. Nevertheless, tea parties get fawning attention and are awarded all manner of relevance from the MSM, including your former employer.

Chez said...

Taco Bell?

Eric said...

"Or if you are going to overlook him, citing the reasons Kornacki gives, you'd better damn well overlook every other one-note joke who pulls your political chain during campaign season."

Is that a browser setting or is there a plug-in for that?

Ref said...

Living in NH, I now find every (with the exception of a few well-moderated Dem sites) political and newspaper comment board overwhelmed with Paulites and their bullshit, repetitive postings. Heck, he could be a contender here if half of his acolytes could be bothered to come out of their mothers' basements long enough to vote.

Bill Orvis White said...

Mr. Paul is wrong on how jihadists are ready to strike at any moment. This man is an anti-Semite who hates the Hebrews and Israel. Just like Mr. Bernanke, Rep. Paul needs to be taken out to the wood shed as well.