Saturday, February 11, 2012

Adventures in Headache-inducing Foreign Policies, Starring Tim Nerenz, PhD*

Tim Nerenz, erstwhile Libertarian Party candidate for congress, has a mind-melting blog post advocating a Ron Paul/Allen West presidential ticket. The suggestion alone is enough to send neural synapses misfiring into a sea of liquefied gray matter, but it's Nerenz's solipsistic defense of the suggestion that really betrays the lazy, Manichean foundations of what passes for libertarianism these days.

I'd go through the text line by line, but really there are only two aspects of the argument worth worrying about. The first is the flagrant way is which Nerenz throws any pretense of principle overboard with his selection of West as a VP candidate. "Which ever faction’s favorite son wins should pick a running mate that the losing factions absolutely adore," he writes, because "the only purpose of choosing a running mate is to win, and winning back rivals' supporters alienated in this primary fight is the most important decision the GOP nominee will make."

I suppose the question of whether or not a running mate would actually be able to assume the office of the Presidency is immaterial to Nerenz. He certainly makes no effort whatsoever to argue that West is fit to do so. (West is not, by the way; and in all likelihood he'll find out this fall that voters made a mistake to think he's fit to hold office in Congress.) And just in case there were any doubt about where Nerenz's priorities are, here's his blanket abdication of principles:
And to all my libertarian friends who are still breathing into a bag at the thought of Col. West standing next to our icon, I say that I, too, could list a dozen policy disagreements with the conservative Rep. West.  But if conservative Vice President Allen West is what it takes to elect libertarian President Ron Paul, then the Colonel overcomes my lesser objections by the score of 1-12.  As an MOC reader comment recently reminded us – politics isn’t religion, and compromise is not a mortal sin.   
We here at The Chief like compromise. We encourage it. This isn't compromise. It's a rather transparent and pathetic Hail Mary. We would hope that conservatives would have learned an important lesson about elevating unproven leaders to exalted positions from the lat time they made this mistake. Evidently, libertarians have not.

Fitness for office aside (as if there were any other issue), what's makes a Paul/West ticket inherently absurd is that they are ideologically incompatible, and in no place is this more evident than in their views on foreign policy. Paul is an extreme isolationist, whereas West sees the justification of military intervention toward any country that so much as looks at the United States cross-eyed. Even Nerenz seems to acknowledge:
What’s your problem with Ron Paul – that he’s supposedly racist?  Hello, Allen West.  Anti-Israel?  Shalom, Allen West.  Soft on Defense?  Make that Col. West, pal.  Too old?  Allen West, youngster.  Meandering answers? Allen-get-the-hell-out-West.  Appeaser?  Allen-obliterate-them-West.  Too Muslim-tolerant?  Allen-pee-on-‘em-twice-West.  You get the picture. 
We do, indeed, and it's not a pretty one.

Clearly, Nerenz doesn't understand that a Vice President is supposed to advance a President's agenda, not contradict it. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one example of there ever being a sort of White House odd couple like the one Nerenz proposes, but that was during the Civil War and it did not end well.

If this is the future of conservatism, then Republicans are in trouble. The problem is that this year's crop of GOP primaries seem to suggest that Paul's 30+ crusade is paying odd dividends. Just take a look at the gains he's made in the last four years:


2008: 11,841 (9.93%) .... 2012: 26,036 (21.43%)     
Turnout: + 1.9%
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +120%

New Hampshire:
2008: 18,308 (7.9%) .... 2012: 56,848 (22.9)%
Turnout: + 5.8%  
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +211%

South Carolina:
2008: 16,155 (3.62%) .... 2012: 78,000 (13%)
Turnout: +34.72%  
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +383%

2008: 62,887 (3.23%) .... 2012: 117,032 (7%)  
Turnout: -15%  
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +86%

2008: 6,087 (13.73%) .... 2012: 6,175 (19%)
Turnout: -26%   
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +1%

2008: 5,910 (8.42%) .... 2012: 7,759 (11.7%) 
Turnout: -7%
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +31%

2008: 26,464 (4.50%) .... 2012: 30,641 (11.3%) 
Turnout: -57%   
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +16%

2008: 9,852 (15.68%) .... 2012: 13,228 (27.0%)
Turnout: -24%   
Paul Raw Vote Improvement: +34%

Those might not be staggering numbers of support, but they are signs of astonishing growth. Unfortunately, they belong to a movement that unacceptable to the American mainstream. It's a spectacular liability waiting to explode in the GOP's face. The ability of Mitt Romney to effectively compete against Barack Obama should be a mere secondary concern to expansion of the party's lunatic wing.

No comments: