The Corner

Re: The Fringe Frontrunner

Rich, I take your excellent points about Ron Paul. The man is exasperatingly half-right, half-wrong, and all nuts. Those newsletters alone should have finished him off long ago, and if by some miracle he should actually win the nomination, you know that the Democrats will use them against him early and often.

Worse than that, in his blame-America-first foreign policy, he’s dangerous. He’s the living example that if you push the fringe right and the fringe left to their ne plus ultra extremes, they eventually meet in the middle of Ron Paul’s brain, which is a veritable Hegelian synthesis of resentment, paranoia, and quackery.

Still, there’s a corollary to Paul’s rise that ought not be missed: the more that “Mr. 25 Percent” Mitt is presented as the “inevitable nominee,” the deeper underground the backlash against what’s perceived as media force-feeding is going to go. Camille Paglia has written about this cultural phenomenon most eloquently in Sexual Personae, in which she posits that repressed chthonic desires never go away but merely pop up again in unexpected places — and what could be more unexpected (and at the same time, logical) than Ron Paul? He is the un-Mitt and the anti-Romney in every way imaginable.

The primary electorate’s longing for a candidate other than Romney has been clear from the outset, with the rise and fall of Bachmann, Perry, and now Gingrich, over whose apparent collapse in the polls no one should shed a tear. Mr. Newt tosses around words like “fundamental” and “change” as liberally as Obama, and the last thing this country needs is another intellectual middleweight under the delusion that he is a world-transformative figure, and ready to use government to further that fantasy.

So who’s it going to be? If I knew, I’d go the track. But I do know that as long as the least-worst candidate is offered as the alternative, the alternative-alternative candidate — whoever he or she is — is not going away until we start counting votes and the delegates. And even then, maybe not

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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