The statement issued this past Monday (14 May) was certainly to the point: Congressman Ron Paul of Texas was, more or less, suspending his active campaigning (if by "active campaigning"- as it is generally used 'out there'- we mean "actively shilling for votes from the rank-and-file in Presidential Primaries") but he was- most assuredly- not withdrawing!
Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process, the statement insisted. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future. Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted. Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have. I encourage all supporters of Liberty to make sure you get to the polls and make your voices heard, particularly in the local, state, and Congressional elections.
One headline I saw in the immediate wake of this was to the effect of 'Ron Paul finally states the obvious' (meaning his not being able to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012)...
but does this mean the end of the "stealth delegate" strategy or even the so-called 'Battle of Tampa' still hoped for by many a more vehement- where not also most vociferous- Ron Paul supporter?
We are now here well within that very concept the economist John Maynard Keynes (himself largely the antithesis of much of that on which Congressman Paul has himself campaigned) referred to as "uncertain knowledge" which he defined not [as] merely... distinguish[ing] what is known for certain from what is only probable but, rather, matters [for which] there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know...
put another way- and here turning a phrase so often used by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on its head- we are now entering the realm of oxymoronic "unknown 'known's"!
For I myself can rather easily analyze the data (popular vote in Presidential Primaries already held this year, National Convention delegate counts [both "hard" and "soft"]) I already have in hand and- comparing it to past patterns in many a preceding presidential nominating process (in both Major Parties!), adding in my own knowledge, experience and observation of such things before sprinkling in at least a dash of "my gut tells me that..."- mixed in with stuff heard out on the proverbial "streets" ('back alleys', as well as 'main drags') within the Wacky, Wonderful World of American Politics and come up with reasonable (or so I hope!) opinions of my own as to just how the 2012 GOP presidential nomination race might well be transpiring at moment, most of which I can turn into the very Commentaries I have been writing so far this 2012 Primary/Caucus "season"...
in essence, all I am really doing- in such cases- is well applying Bernoulli's axiom to the effect that given a similar situation, the sequence of future events will follow the same pattern as has already been seen in the past (or, as a co-worker of mine in a warehouse I worked in during my youth used to always tell me whenever I came into work complaining about the Wind Chill on a blustery winter's day: "What are you bitching about? By July, it'll be 80!")... by the way: the flip side of this "coin", I suppose, is the classic definition of Insanity as doing the same things over and over again hoping that, at some point, things will have turned out differently ;-)
However, the effect of Congressman Paul's recent "suspension that's not all that much a suspension and certainly not a withdrawal" is- if only for the time being- a rather difficult "read" and not all that predictable, not least because his presidential campaign has actually been more successful- both "on the ground" as well as "over the air"- in 2012 than it was four years ago and it certainly has been of far more effect than Paul's own run for the Presidency under the banner of the Libertarian Party back in 1988...
but what will be the ultimate effect of the 2012 Ron Paul campaign on the Republican National Convention (and its presumptive presidential nominee) in particular and the Presidential Election per se in general?
Many of those who most criticized my 29 April piece on the "stealth delegate" strategy (both the nasty and the not so nasty among same) made it clear to me- if they also happened to be Ron Paul supporters (as, indeed, most of these were)- that they not only intended to "show up in Tampa" but also intended to be "LOUD" (their capitalization!)... but what would "being LOUD for Ron Paul" really mean?
If it means delegates on the floor and others in the gallery- at intervals- cheering lustily, where not also wildly, for Congressman Paul (whether or not he gets to speak before the Convention), that would be one thing... however, if it means badly disrupting Convention business (especially a Convention in which there is already a strong consensus for Mitt Romney's being nominated for President by that body) with various and sundry procedural motions largely unrelated to that very consensus, that would be quite another!...
and I haven't even here considered the possibility (although not the probability) of rather large groups of Ron Paul supporters- perhaps augmented by disgruntled Gingrich and Santorum supporters, many of the more hard-core "tea party"ers and others not all that happy that a man seen as handpicked by the Republican Party establishment will be that Party's standardbearer: not a one of these in possession of recognized credentials allowing them into the Convention Hall (let alone onto the floor of the Convention itself)- gathering in the streets of the Tampa Bay area during Convention week to, perhaps, well voice their displeasure with the "Mitt Romney Telethon" going on inside [the "Whole World Is Watching: Chicago '68" being redone 2012 GOP style? ;-)]... mind you: I am not (as of this typing) necessarily expecting just such a thing come late August, but-----
The Ron Paul campaign itself claims- even in the wake of Congressman Paul's own statement on Monday- that it will head to Tampa with a solid group of delegates. Several hundred will be bound to Dr. Paul, and several hundred more, although bound to Governor Romney or other candidates, will be Ron Paul supporters... our delegates can still make a major impact at the National Convention and beyond. All delegates will be able to vote on party rules and allow us to shape the process for future liberty candidates.
Congressman Paul's campaign emphasizes that by sending a large, respectful, and professional delegation to Tampa, we will show the party and the country that not only is our movement growing and here to stay, but that the future belongs to us. [boldface mine for emphasis: REB-A]
Clearly, the leaders within Ron Paul's campaign (no less than does the Republican Party in general or those within Mitt Romney's own campaign in particular, of course) want no truck with a so-called 'Battle of Tampa' come the National Convention (which is precisely why I boldfaced that last quote from it)... but it is rather difficult to so quickly turn off the concomitant effects of the rhetoric of Revolution once battle- even mere political battle- under such rhetoric has already been joined (for example, not all "tea party"ers- whomever these might have supported during the Republican presidential nomination process [whether Congressman Paul or no]- have most fully come to terms with "not getting into someone's face" in the course of promoting their views and- thereby [albeit in an early 21st Century form]- more closely emulate the very long-ago event from which the 'Tea Party' movement took its own name: likewise, one cannot have read at least some of the e-mails I received in the immediate aftermath of my 29 April Commentary and at all feel comfortable that such e-mailers [at least at this point, though cooler heads may yet prevail over the next three months or so] have any real interest to be either "respectful" or "professional" were they to decide, on their own, to gather in Tampa come late August!)
The truth is that, if the future does belong to those who support the views of Congressman Paul- as his own campaign continues to declaim- the Grand Old Party, as an institution, is not going to so easily be able to accommodate these without some serious retooling of that very Party's own long-standing, traditional Weltanschauung on Social and Cultural Issues, the Economy and/or on Geopolitics, retooling that well risks splitting the Republican Party and, thereby, make it that much easier for the Democrats to win more national elections in just such a future (if not right now, in 2012 itself):
for the GOP itself is not going to "punt" the Federal Reserve Bank system as well as the market-based currency (as opposed to one once again pegged to a precious metal standard) it regulates; it is not going to dismantle the only "blue water Navy" on the face of the globe (indeed, in the entire History of that globe!) well capable of patrolling all three trading oceans (the Atlantic, the Indian and the Pacific) and, at the same time, abandon the over-century old Roosevelt Corollary containing the very notion of "the United States, however reluctantly,... exercis[ing]... an international police power" wholesale; and, no, atheists and Muslims in America alike aren't suddenly going to become "infra-cool" to the average loyal Republican amongst- say- the greater evangelical Christian community!
Having said all this, however: Governor Romney still has to work his way across a veritable "political tightrope" as he also makes his way towards claiming his "prize" in Tampa late this Summer:
1 in 4 voters in both Presidential Primaries this past Tuesday (15 May)-- these having been held in Nebraska and Oregon (States much politically diverse from one another)-- voted for someone other than Mitt Romney!
Now, this statistic is not at all fatal even to eventual election to the Presidency itself, mind you (for instance: two decades ago now, Bill Clinton received over 70% of the vote in only two of the many later Presidential Primaries that year [the District of Columbia and West Virginia], this at a time when his only active competition for his Party's nomination remaining was the once and future California Governor Jerry Brown!) but it does indicate that the former Massachusetts Governor has some serious "fence mending" to do within his own Party that must be just about completed before the General Election campaign itself gets underway this coming Fall.
The question is: can Romney do so while still attempting to gain the "center of the board", politically speaking, going into November? (Put another way: can Romney be both conservative enough to rally the Grand Old Party behind him while still being not too conservative to actually win the Presidential Election? Part of the problem with trying to even answer that question now is that we cannot yet, in mid-May [5 1/2 months before the Presidential Election], really know [another one of those pesky "unknown 'known's", I suppose!] just what "too conservative"- or, for that matter, "too liberal" [as regards President Obama's own re-election bid]- will actually be come the Fall. It is all too easy to now discuss how an issue such as, say, Gay Marriage will- or will not- impact upon those voters who might go to the polls on Tuesday 6 November-- except: we cannot know what will actually be the major concerns of said voters on 6 November!)
For, in the main, it is the "bell curve" of the electorate- those in that very "center of the board"- which determines the outcome of national elections in the United States of America, no matter what the hardcore partisan or ideologue on either side of the American political divide might like to think! LIBERAL REALLY LIKES THE DEMOCRATS is not news; neither is CONSERVATIVE SUPPORTS THE REPUBLICANS. But what a moderate or Independent might say on the 17th of May likely has relatively little, directly, to do with what that same moderate or Independent will be saying come the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
Yes, 'tis true the presidential nominee of either Major Party cannot at all afford to ignore their respective "base"-- but, no, neither can they be so beholden to their respective "base" as to not be able to make at least a hardworking effort to reach out to Independents as well as moderates of the other Major Party (assuming, of course, that the presidential candidate in question would actually like to win the Presidential Election, of course!)
And it is against this background that what Ron Paul's supporters and those who might be "hangers-on" in this regard- from the most "respectful and professional" to the most angry- do, both inside and outside the Grand Old Party's Convention Hall in Tampa, will be watched... indeed, the whole world will be watching... and then, a week later, they'll be watching what goes on within and without a different Convention Hall in Charlotte, North Carolina!
As of this typing, the Ron Paul (where not also a larger 'Anybody But Romney') "insurgency" seems but a "brushfire", far less likely to later become an all-out "conflagration" in the form of outright "insurrection" against the Republican Party establishment... but it takes but a stray ember caught up in the political winds (where not also a vortex) to change the probable scenario...
as I so often write in my Commentaries for this website: