Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anyone but him

On my way home from work today, I caught a bit of Sean Hannity's program. Hannity is a blowhard, but he has his uses, namely, in allowing us to see how the Republican party is reacting to various political news. Today he told us that while he could not yet make up his mind about which candidate to support, he could not support Ron Paul. This is interesting because most days Sean is bloviating about how Barack Obama is the most dangerous president ever, and that anyone would be preferable to him. Evidently he now prefers Obama to Ron Paul.

Hannity's reasons were twofold: Ron Paul is an isolationist; and he wrote some nasty newsletters back in the 90's. The first point is easily debunked, since Paul is not an isolationist. He's a non-interventionist; he was in favor of going after Al-Qaeda after 9/11 but wisely noted that failure to declare war would lead ensure that the conflict would never end. In fact, Paul has published a book which contains his many speeches he gave while in Congress. Reading this would enlighten Hannity, and prevent him from making foolish proclamations on national radio shows.

The newsletter issue is summarized here. Essentially, Ron Paul allowed someone else to edit and publish newsletters under his name. Some of the opinions therein were racist. Hence, the argument goes, Ron Paul should be disqualified from office. This is nonsense for a variety of reasons. For starters, Paul is only guilty of poor judgement if the newsletters were written by someone else. Moreover--and this is going to be a hard point to grasp since racism is seen as the worst possible crime--his policies are not racist; it's unclear how a libertarian would govern in a racist manner. This is not to concede that Paul is racist--no one who knows him or is familiar with his work makes this claim--only that if he were, it wouldn't be as bad as people might think. Obama is not racist against Middle Easterners, but that hasn't prevented him from killing scores of them in foolish wars. It's absurd to be more concerned about value judgements than policy implications, yet this is what Hannity is doing.

The truth is Hannity doesn't care about the newsletters. That these dubious charges of racism are the best dirt that his opponents--and yes, Hannity is an opponent of the good doctor--can dig up tells us a good deal about the strength of character which Paul possesses. No; what Hannity cares about is Paul's foreign policy views. Like any good neo-con, Hannity loves war. He's worried sick that Obama might not start a war with Iran, and he's tickled pink that the rest of the candidates have exhibited no trepidation towards yet another war.

The implications of this position are quite interesting. For both Gingrich and Romney share Obama's foreign policy views as well as his domestic views. It's true that both of the Republican candidates have told us that they will end Obamacare, but this aside, both are equally eager to continue deficit spending for years to come, rhetoric notwithstanding. On the war front, both are equally committed to Empire, though there might be some differences as to which countries we wouldn't invade--yet.

Now, Ron Paul also opposes Obamacare and promises to overturn it. He also promises to cut $1 trillion from the budget in his first year, which is 99% more than either Romney or Gingrich promise. However, he does have diverging views on foreign policy. By supporting Gingrich and Romney against Paul, Hannity is telling us that $1 trillion in spending cuts are not worth a change to foreign policy. In other words, he's more than willing to accept another big government conservative than concede any ability to wage additional wars. Never mind that we don't have the money to wage any more expensive wars since we keep nominating big government conservatives.

We know from talk radio that anyone who doesn't vote for Republican candidate X is really voting for Democrat candidate Y--never mind the logic; we're in talk radio land. So what Hannity is saying when he admits that he will not support Paul is that he prefers an Obama presidency to a Paul one. Which is to say that he will not give up Obama's foreign policy for Paul's, even if it means that we can repeal Obamacare and cut $1 trillion from the budget. This is very interesting, because it's a tacit admission that Paul is to "the left" of Obama on the war front, that is, he is less likely to go to war than our current president. This is precisely the reason Paul would do so well against Obama, who would be forced to run as a hawk, thereby alienating his base.

The inescapable conclusion is that there is no party for conservatives. The only thing that the War, err, Republican Party wishes to conserve is our Empire. Every other constituency must sacrifice its principles for the good of the party: pro-lifers have to tolerate pro-choice candidates, second amendment proponents must not quibble with candidates who promote gun control legislation, fiscal hawks must support big spenders. Only the imperialists are exempt from sacrifice.

The reality is that there are a lot of people who make an awful lot of money off of our Empire, and they're not going to see the spigot closed without putting up a fight. It's going to get very nasty for Dr. Paul as his campaign continues to grow. The good news is that this is forcing so-called conservatives to show their hands. Hence forth, it's impossible to view Hannity as anything more than a warmonger.

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