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

Most Popular

Culture

Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More
U.S.

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More