Such analysis is of course nonsense simple because the nominees across the party's are actually diverse and always have been. Only a simpleton would make such statements because they would be trying to apply the notion of a nationally held party line of issues x y and z to a nation that does not, has not, and never will work like that. The amazing thing about Iowa in the years that I have observed the electoral marvels of the American Empire is that it almost always throws up surprises. A frontrunner will fall and an outsider will rise.
Occassionally an outsider will rise and then scream and shout in victory so insanely that everyone thinks he is nuts and photoshops pictures of him squeezing the life out of a kitten in his momentary fit of pique. That was the Democrat Howard Dean if you didn't know. A guy whose campaign was built almost exclusively online. This time round there is no Democrat like him and instead the Internet buzz nominee is Dr Ron Paul. A pure constutionalist libertarian who seems to make lots of people wet with excitement, at least on the blog and YouTube anyway.
Yet if you read much of the mainstream media you will find little out about him. Supporters of Paul, and I mean the serious supporters, will talk about a conspiracy against him. Even if commentators praise his Internet rise and meteoric fundraising if the write him off they are, as James Forsythe at the CoffeeHouse has found, be accused of being part of the Murdoch Empire. To not give Paul the time of day is too be against him for some darker, or more feared reason. Personally I think this is nonsense in almost all cases.
The fact is Paul, for all his resonance online, appears to only poll at a level nationally that means he has no chance of actually winning. Whilst supporters will say this is because of the media conspiracy against him, with the exception of some very specific incidents, many commentators still only have the polls to go in their analysis and have to take much of it at face value, especially foreign correspondants. Then there is the Dean Factor. Last time round the mainstream media got excited about Deam, and then they were left with egg on their face after the screaming incident.
This is not to say they think Paul, who is in his 70s, will do a Dean. But I think they are wary about how badly they are willing to get it wrong. Getting it wrong is one thing, getting it wrong and bigging up a nutter makes them look even sillier. They are simple being cautious ahead of Iowa, and if Paul does the unthinkable it will have to change, but they're waiting for that moment. Stick with the frontrunners and then reassess when the poll is over appears to be the editorial line for now, and there really is nothing wrong with that.
Writing Ron Paul off is undoubtedly dangerous. No one can be quite sure how his online campaign will translate into votes, and I know someone who is in Iowa today doing whatever is the equivalent of knocking on doors in a British Elections. But, and there is always a but, it's not only dangerous to write Paul off but it's dangerous to consider supporting a Paul Presidency (not that I have a vote of course). At least that is my outsider view and my frame of reference has to be how the Presidency relates to the outside world not the domestic arena. Paul, for all his small government domestic appeal, would be a nightmare internationally. This is because of all the candidates, across all the parties, he has the strongest of classic American imperial denial.
There is no doubt in my mind that America is an Empire you see. Not an empire in the colonial sense, but the post-colonial hyperpower that has the responisibilty on its shoulder to bring stability to the global order. The problems is almost all American reject the concept of empire thanks to its perjorative undertones. The Left are very goos at this of course. They have a tendency to think that if the world could just have a big group hug it would all be alright. The truth is though, if America is not the global power then someone else will be and, frankly, those other options are shittier than a shitty stick stuck inside a big pile of shit.
Ron Paul, who is on the Right but firmlyin the imperial denial world too, represents a literalist view of the US Constitution which makes him an isolationist. It might sound appealing when he quips that on matters of foreign policy he would consult the constitution rather than his counsel, but a world without America as the hegemonic power is a world with a different hegemon. That is worth remembering and repeating. An isolationist America would be a very bad thing for the world. Just look at the alternative choices of China and Russia. Real Politik may make you whince, it may make you uneasy, but remember this. The others will do it too, and they ain't the nicest of folks. In the end it comes down to this. Write off Ron Paul at your peril and desire a Ron Paul presidency equally so.
Note: Should any Ron Paul supporters read this post and get annoyed. I can confirm that News Corp have paid me money in the past. In fact paid two cheques into my bank yesterday. Feel free to dismiss the post on those grounds alone.