Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Editorial Decision: A welcome to Ron Paul and General Petraeus

We've made a decision. As the site develops, we will gladly welcome and run stories about two controversial candidates for two different reasons.

First, Ron Paul. Both establishment and conservative Republicans have tried censoring the Congressman's voice in intraparty discussions. Some say he's an embarrassment, or a loon, and that the voices of him and his supporters must be stamped out. Before the recent RNC debate, Red State excoriated "Paultards" for disrupting the online process whereby questions would be suggested.

4. Vote down any questions that reference Ron Paul, the Federal Reserve, the Gold Standard, Austrian economists, crazy ass conspiracy theories, the Illuminati, the Zionist conspiracy to make Ron Paul incontinent, etc. [NOTE to the Paultards: none of those questions is relevant to the RNC Chairman's race except for the couple listed below the fold here.]

Say what you want about Ron Paul, but don't call his supporters "Paultards", not if you want to graft them into your party. And make no mistake, many Ron Paul supporters are not turds or tards. They're passionate about what they believe; they have no ideologically pure home, but the Republican party's emphasis on individual responsibility and freedom makes our party Paul supporters' most natural choice. There are loons, yes, but I've read a member diary or two on Red State that doesn't pass the sanity test, either.

Ron Paul is not a viable candidate for the nomination. But he's a viable voice within the Republican party, and instead of driving him and his supporters out, we'd do well to welcome them in, debating them vigorously where disagreements lie, and trying to maintain a spirit of mutual respect. I know that sounds naive. But so did Jesus, when he said "suffer the little children to come."

So as this site grows, we will be welcoming Ron Paul stories, Ron Paul supporters, Ron Paul anything as proof that our party is a vibrant cauldron of ideas.

Onto General Petraeus. I highly doubt he will throw his hat in the ring. Everything I've read about the man suggests that his intelligence and temperament would make him an effective, if not spectacular commander-in-chief. But Petraeus is understandably wary of inserting politics into what he does. Like some other great generals of our past, he passionately believes the military should separate itself from politics, that a good General can serve equally as effectively within a Democrat or Republican administration.

But over the next few years, we expect his name will continue to be floated as an intriguing and, let's be honest, sexy alternative to the Huckabee's, Romney's, and Palin's of the world. There's a steady gravitas, an almost otherworldy quality to Petraeus that brings politicians to their knees when they hear his name.

As his name gets thrown around, it will be interesting to see how the other candidates prepare for a possible Petraeus run. In early 2007, the Boston Globe obtained a 77-slide powerpoint presentation the Romney team had put together -- it's a fascinating read, seeing how Romney had planned to defeat what were his two toughest rivals at that point, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. What if Petraeus had run, what if he might run? How do you prepare to face him? We'll try to answer that question by building a portrait of Petraeus. It won't be easy -- he's a guarded man when it comes to politics, but there are clues everywhere, including many in a recent New Yorker piece I'll drag to the surface.

The point of all of this is the following: Neither Ron Paul nor General Petreaus will be our party's nominee in 2012. But our nominee may emerge from an environment in which Paul and Petreaus played a major role. Thus, Paul and Petreaus' role in the 2012 contest may be crucial.

Last, we bring our diverse ideological biases to this endeavor, but we're primarily in the business of revealing candidates and their ideologies through news stories. So when Mitch Daniels resists dipping into his state's rainy day fund, but Jon Huntsman freely indulges, we'll report that. Political perspective determines your response. I may think it's a proxy for fiscal responsibility, but it could just as easily be a proxy for intransigent penny-pinching. Never think for a second that one opinion is superior to another. One just reveals a certain value system; the other a different system. We won't get too postmodern about this, but if I could sum it up in one sentence, it would be this.

We will win only when we defeat ourselves.