Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Springtime for Libertarians?

Super Tuesday has come and gone, and the Ron Paul presidential campaign has no reason to mark the occasion. Paul has raised over $20 million in campaign funds, but has won few votes with the money. As far as can be told, he hasn't spent much of it.

In this Super Tuesday primary state, there were no Paul ads on TV. In truth, I have only been exposed to one Paul commercial in the entire campaign. He ran radio spots on the Sirius channel that gives continuous NFL score updates on game days. This indicates Paul's strategists believe compulsive gamblers are the soccer moms of the 2008 election cycle.

Or maybe not. Perhaps there's a motive for Paul's minimalists campaign mode that's personal, not political. There are many better things on which money can be spent than television commercials. What if Ron Paul is the Max Bialystock of American politics?

Failed campaigns and Broadway flops have one thing in common-each is quickly forgotten. No one inquires into the finances of a losing presidential bid except its creditors. If Paul's keeping the money, he won't have any. No campaign promises to keep, either.

Frankly, Paul's fervent supporters are even easier to fool than the little old ladies of "The Producers." First, they are ideologues, the most readily manipulated of all humans. Second, Paul's loyal legion communicates, donates, and spends its time on the Internet, meaning they don't get out much.

Campaign finance law isn't quite like real law, since it was written by people seeking to get around it. If Paul were to pull the scheme I've outlined, it'd be perfectly legal-as long as he paid taxes on the unspent money. Paul hates taxes, but a nimble accountant could find about a thousand phony expenditures for any political candidate. Voter education projects, that's the ticket.

I cast no aspersions here. Paul is a true crank, and cranks, by and large, are frightfully honest.

On the other hand, it's possible Paul believes what he says at those Republican debates, and sees the current economic downturn as the first stage of a cataclysmic meltdown of U.S. society. If that's the case, well, $20 million would buy more than ample supplies of gold ingots, canned goods, bottled water, and ammunition.

That's a lot more than Mitt Romney's getting for HIS money.


Post a Comment

<< Home