The Corner

Re: Limits of Purism

Derb – Sorry, I was traveling yesterday when you asked:

Jonah: It’s news to me that Ron Paul wants to “dismantle the military.” If you can give me chapter and verse on that, I will certainly ponder it.

Perhaps “dismantle” is the wrong word. But here’s what I’m getting at. He says we can make Social Security (and Medicare) solvent by cutting spending on our foreign policy (for want of a better term). He also says we can pay for healthcare in this country (and reduce the deficit) by cutting our spending on foreign policy. For example, he said in the Florida debate

We have a mess because a lot of people are very dependent on health care. But we’re going broke, with $500 billion going to debt every single year, and we have a foreign policy that is draining us. I say, take care of these poor people. I’m not against that. But save the money someplace. The only place available for us to save it is to change our attitude about running a world empire and bankrupting this country. We can take care of the poor people, save money and actually cut some of our deficit.

Well, since the costs outlays for our foreign policy — or empire-running, as he prefers — is overwhelmingly consumed by our military budget, I’m assuming he wants fairly severe military budget cuts. I’m afraid cutting aid to Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan et al won’t get you very far at all in terms of paying for Social Security, health care and deficit reduction. So, I would wager that he wants the sufficiently ambitious military cuts to make such pronouncements more than dishonest demagoguery. And I imagine cuts of that magnitude might even be called tantamount to “dismantling” by some.

You then asked about Ron Paul’s support among the military. We’ve actually discussed that before in the Corner. I believe that he does have disproportionate support among the military, but I am very skeptical that it as great as he and his supporters claim. A couple emails on that point:

Dear Jonah,

Derbyshire’s repetition of Paul’s assertion that “he is getting more campaign contributions from active-duty military personnel than any other candidate” piqued my interest. Perhaps it was true months ago. It’s not true now. Open Secrets lists contributions to presidential campaigns at . It also ranks each candidates contributions by sector, including defense. According to the stats there Paul neither gets the most money from the defense sector (that would be McCain), nor the highest percentage of his money from it (that would be Hunter). The tab-delimited numbers are below for your perusal.

McCain $116,450 $23,901,948 0.49%

Romney $82,050 $38,459,374 0.21%

Guiliani $69,100 $39,435,306 0.18%

Paul $32,869 $4,168,487 0.79%

Thompson $28,050 $8,443,497 0.33%

Hunter $20,250 $843,598 2.40%

Tancredo $11,850 $746,247 1.59%

Huckabee $6,850 $1,750,760 0.39%

Brownback $3,750 $1,735,236 0.22%

Perhaps early in his campaign Paul received a relatively large number of contributions from service members, small samples do tend to produce statistical anomalies.

Wishing anonymity from the hordes of Paul fans.

Then there’s this:

I don’t know how to get a hold of Derb, so I will send this to you. He said:

… It seems hard to square with his much-repeated assertion that he is getting more campaign contributions from active-duty military personnel than any other candidate. That assertion may be false; Paul may be misinformed, or lying. If so, however, I’m surprised the falsehood hasn’t been uncovered by now: I’ve been hearing that assertion for months.

This myth comes from the 2nd quarter donation reports. However there is a flaw in the reporting that Ron Paul took advantage of. Look at the records marked as “NO EMPLOYER WAS SUPPLIED”

For Romney it was 2,740,696.85

For McCain it was 2,207,402.39

For Ron Paul it was $100

For some reason, Ron Paul got nearly everyone to enter an employer (or he entered one for them) and McCain and Romney did not. How much of the unidentified $4million are military donors?

Update: A couple emails responding to the above:

It would seem that the defense sector grouping on OpenSecrets would include donations from people who work at companies like Raytheon, not just active-duty military personnel.

I can’t imagine why defense contractors would give Ron Paul money, but I do know that Blackwater’s Erik Prince gave Ron Paul money back around his Navy SEAL days. 

And:

Jonah, in your post that deconstructs Ron Paul’s military support, you quoted a couple of previous items on the subject.   Three month ago you had another post at the attached link:   It points out that when the data is dissected, Paul may have more dollars from people claiming to be military, but using the same criteria McCain has more individual donors who contribute less.  Since we count the number of votes and not numbers, I think McCain can claim to be the military candidate and not Paul.

What I find more troubling in this is Paul’s attempt to wrest Absolute Moral Authority based on what is at best an unverifiable factoid.   By the way, thanks for quoting my earlier email in The Corner.  By my count that’s the fifth time I’ve been quoted, which now makes me an Ace.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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