SAN DIEGO, December 17, 2011 ― When asked in the latest Fox News sponsored Republican debate whether he would make a pledge to not run as a third party candidate, Ron Paul dodged the question. But he did say that same evening, “anyone up here can beat Obama.”
No they can’t, Congressman, not if you run as a third party candidate and siphon off a significant portion of the conservative vote.
Later that evening, he was a little more forthcoming with Sean Hannity.
“I cannot conceive of it,” Paul said when asked again about running as an Independent. “I have absolutely no thoughts or plans of doing it.”
Well, that’s a relief. Oh, wait! Like the typical politician from whom Paul likes to distinguish himself, that was not all he said. “I don’t like absolutes — I don’t like to say: ‘I absolutely will never do such and such’ — so I am just avoiding the absolute,” (Fox News, December, 15, 2011).
Of course. It’s all clear now. He has absolutely no plans to run as a third party candidate but he will avoid absolutes. So we really don’t know what will happen. When Paul loses the Republican nomination (and he will), he may still have enough loyal supporters to encourage a third party bid. The problem is obvious: Just as the congressman will not win the Republican nomination, he will not win a three-way race in the general election, either. Instead, if he runs a third-party campaign, Paul will undoubtedly hand the election back to Obama. That would be rather ironic inasmuch as Obama’s domestic policies resemble Paul’s about as much as Thomas Jefferson resembles Nancy Pelosi.
Many conservatives love the congressman’s refreshing discussion of our Constitution, its original intent, and application to domestic policy. But most of these same conservatives shake in horror of the man’s foreign policy, and rightly so: When it comes to assessing an evil enemy, the application of Paul’s policy would be an unmitigated disaster. What else can one conclude when he doesn’t feel we have a right to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon? His views make Obama’s foreign policy look prudent, and up to now, that seemed impossible.
Many modern elections have had third party candidates who made no more difference to the outcome than a pesky mosquito. But most of them do not share the popularity of Ron Paul.
Two candidates running against Obama in the fall of 2012 will probably hand the election to Obama by splitting anti-Obama votes, dividing both Republicans and Independents, who are unhappy with our current president and must now choose between Paul or some other candidate whose own record or skeletons from the past make him less than ideal. To any who still doubt, I offer two short words: Ross Perot. In 1992 he took votes away from President George H.W. Bush. Bush made part of his own bed with that broken “read my lips” pledge, but Bill Clinton still won with less than 43 percent of the national vote, compared to Bush’s 37 percent and Perot’s 19 percent. United, the anti-Clinton voters would have defeated Clinton easily.
Ron Paul knows this. I am not one of his fans, but the man is intelligent. To be a physician, let alone a successful congressman for many repeat terms, a person must have something on the ball. With foreign policy Paul does not come across as the sharpest pencil in the box, but he certainly understands the consequences of running as a third party candidate.
And so, our friend Ron Paul may soon be facing his own moment of truth. Is his passion really based upon a love for the American Constitution, or is it being fed by ego? There is also a question of sheer ethics. By participating in the Republican debates, Paul is stating (indirectly at least) that he supports the Republican Party. Is this honest support, or merely an excuse to participate in debates and receive a national forum? It would be disingenuous to enter the race as a Republican, only to abandon this same party simply because he technically loses but still retains a large following.
Ron Paul, the day is dawning when you must put up or shut up: A second term of Obama may just end any honest application of the constitution you vigorously defend once and for all. How sad if you, of all people, make that happen.
Bob Siegel also writes movie reviews for Washington Times Communities:
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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