Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Have Ron Paul and Mitt Romney already made their "separate peace"?

This is the picture that Mitt Romney
positively has to have come out of
the Tampa GOP Convention.
The political world is abuzz right now with the question about what Congressman Ron Paul and his delegated (pledged and unpledged) are going to do at the Tampa GOP Convention this August.

NPR, for example, thinks it's all about handing the revolution over to Senator Rand Paul in 2016.

The Christian Science Monitor has a list of five things Ron Paul wants from the GOP Convention, including:
1.  To change the soul of the GOP
2.  An orderly show of force on the floor
3.  To irritate Ben Bernanke
4.  To prohibit indefinite detention
5.  To keep the internet wild and free
Other sites have similar takes on the issue, and I'm sure that there is a good bit of truth in all of them.

I'm also fascinated by what's missing:  any discussion of military interventions abroad.

It may just be that I am going to the wrong sites, but I sense a sudden toning down of the insistent rhetoric about military interventions abroad.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm sensing the outlines of a deal here.

Make no mistake about it, I don't think Dr. Paul would change his longheld views on foreign policy.  But in working within the GOP he knows he will have to build coalitions and make deals, and he knows he will have to be realistic about what he can get from Governor Romney without "breaking the bank," so to speak.

Romney can give Paul "the soul of the GOP."  If Romney gets elected, he is the leader of the party, and no matter what dreams the Campaign for Liberty might entertain, he's not going to worry about a primary challenge in four years.

Romney will give Paul his "show of force" on the convention floor.  It is, after all, Romney's best chance to capture at least the tepid support of Dr Paul's followers.

Romney will give Paul his opportunity to discredit and prod Ben Bernanke.  The Governor has already committed to letting Bernanke go if elected, and giving Paul room on economic issues (at least with lip service) is something he can afford.

Romney won't give Paul a prohibition on indefinite detention, but what he will promise is a full and thorough review of all terrorism and Patriot Act-related policies, and he will give the Paulites at least a strong minority voice in that review.  If you thought W got blamed for a lot, wait til you see how the first year of a Romney presidency treats The Big O.

Romney will give in on the internet issues--at least on the surface, and for now.  His corporate backers want concessions, but Romney will argue that they need to wait for a year or two until he is fully entrenched and not so dependent of the Paul movement to give it to them.

And at least one Paul supporter, I'd guess, will get into the cabinet, if not Dr. Paul himself.  He won't give him Treasury, but he might give him Commerce.

What will Romney get in return?  Paul will give Romney an indirect endorsement ("we support the party's nominee"), will not run as a third party candidate, and will not lift a finger for Libertarian Gary Johnson.  Most especially that:  Paul will keep his various Campaigns for Liberty at a distance from the Libertarians, because Johnson (with Paul support, even tacit support) would be able to fundraise and affect swing states--probably against Romney.

Romney will also get an armistice on foreign policy.  In the General Election it is one thing for a Ron Paul or a Gary Johnson to run as "peace" candidates.  Romney has to be able to make President Obama look soft on defense issues.

This is going to be tough against a President who has started four or five wars on his own, and raised the military budget to unprecedented heights, but Romney cannot win if he cannot make Obama look like he's bowing to Muslim potentates and secretly planning to hand over the keys to the Washington Cathedral (or the DC Mormon Temple) to mullahs from Iranistan.

So the deal will be that Romney gives Paul about as much as he could ask for on everything but defense and terrorism, and Paul agrees not to change his views but to shut up unless asked.

That's my prediction for the day.  How well that would play with Paul's supporters, and how many would then defect to Gary Johnson--that's a question for another day.

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