One of our regulars sent this from out of town (I’m not identifying him for now on account of his being out of town):
We’re up in New Hampshire visiting my mother. Thought you’d be interested to hear what I have observed — in four days of driving around the small towns of NH, I’ve yet to see a yard sign for McCain. But I’ve seen at least ten for Ron Paul. No Obama’s either.
And I don’t know if you’ve ever been up here but it’s a somewhat unsettling experience to go into Wal-Mart and buy $99.75 worth of stuff and pay ZERO sales tax. And on top of that, NH has no income tax either. How do they manage to survive without taxing everything? (yes, higher property taxes but with much less government also). If it weren’t for the snow, I think my wife and I would consider retiring here. I hate snow almost as much as I hate taxes.
This message reminds me of something I meant to pass on from my recent trip to Memphis, which is the polar opposite of New Hampshire when it comes to sales taxes.
The first day we were there, I was driving to the new home of one of my wife’s kinfolks — way out past Collierville, I believe, to the very limits of suburban development, which if you know Memphis means way out East — and traversing all that sprawl caused me to work up a powerful thirst. So we stopped at a new Kroger (right across from a new Starbucks, of course), and I got a bottled water, and a diet Pepsi for my youngest daughter.
It got my attention when the total was exactly $3.00, so after I fed the three ones into the self-checkout apparatus, I looked at my receipt: Yep, 22 cents of it was sales tax. (See the receipt below.)
The reason Tennessee has such outrageous sales tax rates is that the state has no income tax, and none on the horizon (when ex-Gov. Don Sundquist tried to get one enacted, he had his head handed to him). We do have an income tax, but we are hard on Tennessee’s heels when it comes to sales tax. If Richland County manages to pass the penny for local transportation needs, we won’t be far behind.
The reason, in our case, is the severe restrictions placed by the state on local governments’ ability to raise revenue through other means, combined with South Carolina’s utter failure to come to grips with road construction needs at the state level. In the Volunteer State, local governments have wheel taxes and the like to fund roads and other transport needs and wants. (Also, local governments build and maintain far more of Tennessee’s roads; the state of South Carolina reserves to itself the right to mismanage most of our roads.) Or at least they did back when I lived there. If someone has more up-to-date info, it will be welcome.
Over the weekend I found myself in Greenville, and I rode by a house adorned with several Ron Paul for President posters, and I thought, "Somebody hasn’t heard the news…"
This immediately brings several things to mind:
- How come none of you Paulistas complained when I removed his Web page link (along with
everybody else’s except McCain, Obama and Clinton) from my list at left?
- If his supporters thought the MSM was boycotting his campaign before, what must they think now? Paranoia must be striking pretty deep in the heartland right about now.
- Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was a scrappy diehard. Compared to the persistence of Dr. Paul, she’s a shrinking violet.
- Does putting "Ron Paul" in a headline still have the magical effect of drawing his supporters to your blog by the thousands? If so, we’re about to find out. Anyway, I hope they appreciate my giving them this forum to get their message out to the unsuspecting multitudes. But they probably won’t; they’ll probably just yell at me for not knowing their guy was still running…
By BRAD WARTHEN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
LONESOME? Want to make a boatload of new friends, fast? I have a simple, surefire method.
Step 1: Start a blog. You can do this in minutes, and for free, at a number of sites on the Web.
Step 2: Post something on your blog with “Ron Paul” in the headline.
Caveat: Make it something nice, or all those new people who come rushing to you will be something other than “friends.”
As you may have heard, there is a whole alternative universe full of people who spend large amounts of time Googling their one and only, and eagerly reading anything they find. Many are political first-timers, either because they’re quite young or because they gave up on mainstream candidates long ago. They are the reason why Dr. Paul has raised great gobs of money, despite his support in polls tending toward the single digits.
This does not discourage or deter the libertarian’s following, but one thing does sort of cheese them off: What they perceive as a general lack of respect from the MSM, a.k.a. “mainstream media.” In stories about who might win this or that primary, their guy’s name doesn’t even come up.
Last week on my blog (where I really must stop engaging in the cheap, traffic-boosting ploy of putting “Ron Paul” into random headlines), in the midst of a discussion among Paulistas, “Alex” earnestly asked me, “Brad — what do you think of the main media’s a) coverage and b) depiction of Ron Paul? Fair in both respects or less so?”
A two-parter, as we might say in the MSM. My response got one encouraging comment, which is all I need to provoke me to reproduce it here. It went like this:
I’d say, on both counts, it’s about par.
On the whole, there is a shameful tendency of news media to try to oversimplify the race. The press, and the TV cowboys, like politics to be like sports, which means everything is couched in terms of winning, losing and whether the coach called the right play, and there are never, ever more than two teams on the field at a given time.
This means anointing two people in each race as the “front-runners,” and giving everybody else short shrift. This, of course, is appalling, especially when the most qualified candidates don’t make the short list, and that’s at least as often the case as not.
Look at the Democrats. It was decreed via the great colonial beast’s collective “mind” that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were it. Never mind that the experience and qualifications for the two of them combined fell short of that of Joe Biden or Bill Richardson — or Chris Dodd, if you’re hard-up…. This is not to say either Hillary or Obama is a bad candidate, mind you; there’s something to be said for
sheer electoral appeal. Hillary’s got the Clinton fan club in her pocket, and Obama’s got that certain something called “charisma.” I’m just saying it’s ridiculous that Biden and Richardson have never been given a chance.
On the Republican side, the MSM have been confused. They’ve wanted in the worst way to have Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney be the anointed twosome, or maybe Fred Thompson. But the facts that John McCain is more experienced than any of them, and that Mike Huckabee actually has qualities that appeal to key portions of the base (unlike any of the chosen ones) have led to what you’ll sometimes see the MSM refer to as “confusion” or “a muddle.” And the MSM don’t like confusion. They like clarity, and polarization,
and a good fight. Giuliani’s a scrapper (and just loaded with personal idiosyncracies that make great copy); and Romney can have a knock-down dragout just with himself.
In light of these factors, Dr. Paul is far down the list of people who are likely to get major respect. As I say, the MSM like it simple. If they can’t keep the number down to two, then they assign simple, stock-character roles to other players. Dr. Paul has been assigned the role of Quirky Outsider Without a Prayer, a role filled with some gusto on the Democratic side by Dennis Kucinich.
Except that Dr. Paul is even more of an outsider. Dennis the Menace, after all, is a sort of double-distilled version of a liberal Democrat. Dr. Paul is not seen by any of the major players as any kind of a Republican.
While the MSM as a whole have the attention span of a goldfish — they find endless fascination in the
serial misbehavior of well-built young women with substance-abuse problems — the guys on the political beat can be like the sports guys. That is, they can have long memories, especially for electoral trivia.
To political writers, Ron Paul is the 1988 Libertarian Party nominee for president, and he’ll never outgrow that role. To some extent, he doesn’t seem to want to outgrow that role. He’s the same guy, believing and espousing the same things. To his followers, this consistency, this adherence to principle, is admirable in the extreme. To the press, it makes him a dependable eccentric.
Dr. Paul’s one hope to get Serious Attention lies in his other role, that of This Year’s Internet Phenom. You’ll remember that role was filled by another physician, Howard Dean, in 2004. Unfortunately for Dr. Paul, the role lacks the freshness that it had when Dr. Dean created it. For a moment there four years ago, the MSM thought it was on the cusp of a genuine Paradigm Shift, where a guy with a passionate cyber-following and impressive fund-raising capabilities would actually sweep aside the front-runners and win it all. But that didn’t happen, and the MSM is uninclined to get swept up in such enthusiasm a second time.
I don’t know if any of that helped, but I did what I could to answer the question. Now, back to the front-runners…
Get a load of this… someone just sent me a link to some guy who thinks my couple of short posts about Ron Paul and libertarianism are a big deal. To get the full effect, you should click on the link. But here’s a sample:
Ron Paul’s growing popularity is extremely annoying to those on the left. And sometimes their annoyance gets out-of-control, as evidenced by the reaction from Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of The State, Columbia, South Carolina.
Maybe I’m reading that wrong, but I think this guy actually associates me with the left. But in case that’s not rich enough for you, it gets better:
…remember that Warthen, like many of today’s journalists, was born somewhere
the mid-1950’s to the late-1960’s. During the heyday of ABC, CBS and NBC, these journalists were kids in PJs eating cereal in front of the TV. This is how they learned about America and where they formulated their narrow views about the first half of the 20th century. Network television reporting informed them what was right and what was wrong and defined what the government’s role in appeasing the demands of fringe groups and "improving society" should be.
This guy actually seems to believe that there was a time in which I actually watched TV "news."
That’s life for you. Every day you learn something new … about yourself.
First, let me apologize for using "Ron Paul" in a headline for a second time this week. I realize that it’s a cheap traffic driver, like putting cheesecake photos of female celebs on your site.
But the previous time I invoked the nation’s most popular libertarian, a lot of those who were drawn hither by Google expressed puzzlement that I thought the phrase "freewheeling fun" was a hoot when applied to libertarianism.
This still doesn’t quite explain it, but it at least shows that some libertarians are fully aware of the dark, grim, foreboding side of their worldview, which tends to be the one I generally see. I’m cleaning my desk and IN box today, and I run across a copy of The Heartlander, a newsletter put out by The Heartland Institute, which describes itself as "A nonprofit organization devoted to discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems".
We all have some friends and acquaintances who seem congenitally to be optimists and others who were born pessimists.
Among libertarians – for whom extremism is never a vice – the
division is especially sharp, and pessimists outnumber optimists by a
wide margin. I know plenty of libertarians who believe we are at the
gates of hell, carried there in a charred handbasket by people whose
names change over time (sometimes “Clinton,” sometimes “Bush”) but who
always walk in the same direction. Are they right?
That’s what I’m talking about. What I usually hear when libertarians speak is the cry of those "who believe we are at the
gates of hell, carried there in a charred handbasket…"
What I don’t hear is the voices of those few (according to Mr. Bast, they are indeed in the minority) sunny optimists among libertarians — although his article is an attempt to foster that attitude. And his list of things to feel good about strike me as mostly unhappy news (such as "President Bush vetoed a proposed expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program"), but then I’m not his intended audience.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the next issue of The Heartlander. Maybe I’ll find the "freewheeling fun" of libertarianism in that one.
Had to laugh at this passage in this WashPost story about the Ron Paul phenomenon, which was brought to my attention by an e-mail from a libertarian organization:
More than at any other time over the past two decades, Americans are
hungering for the politics and freewheeling fun of libertarianism…
It really said that. Go look. "Freewheeling fun." Maybe that’s why I don’t get libertarianism. I look at it and see a gray, dull, monotonous, seething, dispiriting resentment. Gripe, bitch, moan, especially about taxes — that’s libertarianism to me. That is, if you don’t mind my using the "b-word" in its verb form.
I don’t go to politics looking for a good time, but if I did, I’d probably pick the liberal Democrats. If I were looking to start a business, I’d hang with the Republicans. If I were looking to be an ideologically rigid, antisocial grouch who constantly told the rest of the world to go (expletive) itself, I’d be a libertarian. Not to cast aspersions or anything, or deal in flat stereotypes. I’m sure there’s much more to libertarians than that, just as there is to everyone. But "freewheeling fun?" That cracked me up.
Since I couldn’t make it to the Ron Paul event, I asked the correspondent who originally brought it to my attention to tell us about it:
Thanks for the reply. I know it was a busy day,
with Bush and several candidates visiting at the
same time. The Rally was a great success. The West
Columbia Riverwalk amphitheater provided a
charming, intimate setting for Dr Paul to share
his message of peace, prosperity and liberty to
several hundred supporters. Folks came from as far
away as Chattanooga and Atlanta to hear him speak
and have the opportunity to meet him in person.
I tried to get the campaign to schedule an
interview with your editorial board while he was
in town. Perhaps next visit? In the meantime, I
hope you will be including him in your series this
week on Republican candidates. I was disappointed
to see no mention today about his historic
fundraising on Monday. At 4.2 million, I believe
it was the largest Republican primary donations in
a 24-hour period ever! Surely that’s more
newsworthy than Obama running a new ad, isn’t it?
Dr Paul truly is a viable contender, contrary to
what the MSM would like everyone to believe. As a
ten-term congressman, he is extremely
knowledgeable about the destructive issues facing
America. People from all walks like his message
and feel hopeful that we can turn things around
and restore this country to its former greatness
… if they can just hear it. Please allow your
readers to make up their own minds with equal
exposure of all the candidates, not just the
Thanks for the report. Here’s a hint, though: When an editor gives you access to get your message out, you’re probably better off spending your words on that purpose, rather than wasting them complaining. But the complaints serve a purpose; they give me a setting for correcting several widely-held misconceptions:
- Here’s an assumption that was not a complaint, but I’ll address it anyway: The Bush visit had no impact on my day. Folks make that mistake a lot — thinking that I have a busy day because of some news event. Those are for the news department to handle. And for that matter, such an event as a presidential visit doesn’t tie down much of their assets, either. But for editorial, the impact is zero. I was busy on Friday because I’m always busy on Fridays — it’s crunch time for production of the next three days’ opinion pages.
- I have nothing to do with any "series this week on Republican candidates," beyond reading the pieces in the paper just as you do. Again, that’s the newsroom; we’re editorial. McCain fan that I am, if I had anything to do with it, don’t you think the McCain piece would have had a more positive headline than "McCain struggling to win over voters?"
- Regarding Jackie’s disappointment over lack of coverage of the Paul fund-raising, or belief that it’s more important than an Obama ad — once again, nothing I can do for you, except forward all of your concerns to editors down in our newsroom. And I did that before posting this.
- "Dr Paul truly is a viable contender, contrary to what the MSM would like everyone to believe…" The more accurate way to phrase that would be, "contrary to what the MSM believe." While I don’t work in news now, I did for 20 years, and I can tell you that I never saw anybody report something in an effort to get people to believe something that the editor doesn’t believe is already true. The concern, for an editor, would be to report the reality, not distort it by giving too much coverage to a nonviable candidate, and too little to a viable one. Bottom line: If Rep. Paul is so popular, he’ll win — so there’s no need to construct elaborate media conspiracy theories.
- As for the last plea for "equal exposure" — once again, I’ve passed that on.
As for what I do control in my own little bailiwick — I’ll have you note that with this second post, Ron Paul has received more coverage on this blog in the past couple of weeks than any "candidate" other than Steve Colbert. (Or maybe I should say, he’s tied with the Hillary/Obama combo of these two posts.) And Mr. Colbert got the coverage he got for the same reason certain non-news events dominate what we laughingly call "TV news" — I had video of it.
A reader and sometime letter-writer has sent me this invitation to see Ron Paul tomorrow evening, more or less on my way home from the office:
Dear Mr. Warthen,
I want to personally invite you to join folks from
across the state and beyond to hear Congressman
Ron Paul speak this Friday night, Nov 2nd at the
West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater, 121
Alexander Street at 7:00 PM. Find out why people
all over the country have awakened from their
political apathy and passionately support this
candidate. In addition, he will appear at the
Grand Opening of the Columbia Headquarters, 1911
Hampton Street, on Saturday at 8:30 AM.
I sincerely hope you can join us for either or
both of these events and see for yourself the
extraordinary support Ron Paul has in our state.
I may go out of curiosity — to see the crowd, if nothing else. Of course, it will require being able to get away from the office earlier than usual. As I’ve probably mentioned before, Fridays are pretty horrific around here. We get done when we get done, and there’s no walking out before that for either Mike Fitts or me (we’re the only ones able to produce pages with QuarkXpress). Too bad it will be kind of late for video.
Here’s an ethical question for you: By thus giving publicity to someone I consider to be a fringe candidate, am I distorting the event? I think not, in this case. Ron Paul has no chance to win this primary, but the support he does have is obviously passionate, and he’ll probably fill the amphitheater without too much trouble.
In fact — what do you want to bet he draws a better crowd than Rudy Giuliani (a putative front-runner) did the time I went to check him out at the convention center?
"NEVER? Whaddaya mean, ‘never?’"
Seems like I’ll stoop to anything to get you to click on a blog post, doesn’t it? Sorry about the headline. Tacky. I would never encourage you to hate anyone.
But my point was to share with you the results of this Zogby poll, which found that half the electorate says it would never vote for Hillary Clinton. She has the highest negatives, and Mike Huckabee and Bill Richardson have the lowest, going by that standard. (You may have already read about this, as it came out Saturday, but I’m just now getting around to checking the e-mail account the release came to). An excerpt from the report:
While she is winning wide support in nationwide samples among Democrats in the race for their party’s presidential nomination, half of likely voters nationwide said they would never vote for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.
The online survey of 9,718 likely voters nationwide showed that 50% said Clinton would never get their presidential vote. This is up from 46% who said they could never vote for Clinton in a Zogby International telephone survey conducted in early March. Older voters are most resistant to Clinton – 59% of those age 65 and older said they would never vote for the New York senator, but she is much more acceptable to younger voters: 42% of those age 18–29 said they would never vote for Clinton for President.
At the other end of the scale, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrats Bill Richardson and Barack Obama faired best, as they were least objectionable to likely voters. Richardson was forever objectionable as President to 34%, while 35% said they could never vote for Huckabee and 37% said they would never cast a presidential ballot for Obama, the survey showed….
Here’s the full list:
Whom would you NEVER vote for for President of the U.S.?
I got to thinking about it just now, and wondered for the first time which, of all the candidates, would I be least likely to choose at this point? Here’s how I would rank them personally:
Mind you, that’s just off the top of my head, based on what I know now, without any of my editorial board colleagues setting me straight on any of the calls. And I’ll admit I cheated on one — I can’t even picture "Hunter," much left summon up any relevant impressions, so I just sort of buried him in the pack toward the "less likely" end, hoping no one would notice.
How about you?
Recently I’ve been getting these e-mails, but haven’t had time to stop and check out the opportunities offered. Maybe some of y’all could check it out and report back to the group:
Republican candidates Sam Brownback and Ron Paul will be live online in
two separate hour-long sessions at washingtonpost.com today to answer
To submit questions and join the discussion please see the following
Flash forward to January 2009, and what do you see? Here’s what I see — a profoundly disaffected portion of the Democratic base.
They’ll either be furious because the GOP will have won the White House for another four years, or furious because a Democrat won, and yet we still have troops in Iraq.
Now mind you, I’m basing this on my assumption that neither Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul nor Mike Gravel is president. Indulge me in this for a moment, if you will.
If you look at comments by responsible, grownup-type Democratic elected officials in response to the Petraeus testimony, you get respectful quibbling over matters of degree — maybe we should draw down a little more quickly, or some such.
It’s only among the unelected professional whack jobs out there whipping up the grass roots that you hear Let’s pull every last American in uniform out of Iraq yesterday!
This is a disconnect that could have serious repercussions, not only for the Democratic party, but for the country.
The problem is that Democratic elected officials, who know better, have thought they had to humor the more excitable antiwar folks up to now, and have never felt like they could say, Hold on, folks — what you’re asking for is completely unrealistic. Think what you want about the decision to go into Iraq — and I’m with you that that was a bad call — but now that we’re there we’re stuck with this problem on our hands for some time to come.
The only way to avoid the crash between reality and expectations that I predicted at the top of this post will be if some of the top Democrats start leveling more along those lines. If not, look for a real mess in 2009.
A colleague got this in a piece of e-fanmail last night:
Enjoyed the op-ed piece on Gov. Sanford. Ron Paul suggested he would
be a great running mate during his stop in Greenville/Spartanburg on
I guess, when you don’t have a prayer of getting the nomination, you are free to fantasize about one’s ticket, and not bother with any of that "balancing" stuff that mainstream candidates worry over so.
But picture it if you can: A general election campaign that won’t spring for hotels — two guys living out of a 1993 Dodge van, each sleeping uneasily on his respective side of the futon, waking up each morning to accuse each other crabbily of spending too much on signage.
Yeah, that’s the ticket…
Did any of y’all see this development — Ron Paul touting the fact that he now has a lot of cash on hand?
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Reports: Though often regarded as a
longshot candidate for president, Republican Ron Paul tells ABC News
that he has an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising an
equal amount during the second quarter, putting him ahead of one-time
Republican frontrunner John McCain, who reported this week he has only
$2 million in the bank.
That report was dated Friday. This seems like really great and welcome news for Rep. Paul, seeing as
how on Thursday, I took this phone pic of a sign at Gervais and Assembly.
Having money in the bank is nice, but at some point you’ve got to go ahead and spend some, Ron.
FYI, Since these two instances are the first times I’ve thought of Ron Paul in a while, I was reminded, so I finally got around to putting a link for him in the rail at the left-hand side of my main page. Enjoy. (I’m sorry you can’t see the rail from individual posts at the moment. I’m working on that.)
Meanwhile, I’m trying to add some new blog links, and take away some that haven’t been updated in a while. Two that are likely to go are:
Both were good to have when they were posting regularly, but as I say, it’s been a while.
Anyway, if there are some out there that I don’t link to, and that you think are relevant to S.C., let me know.
What did you get out of it?
My immediate thought on that — not much.
Maybe it’s an expectations game. I had expected little from the Democratic "debate" — events like that get pretty pointless with more than two or three candidates, and there were eight. But I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually able to gain some information. Not a lot, but the expectation had been so low.
But this was more like what I expected with the other one. Maybe it was that 10 is that much worse than 8. Maybe it was that Fox allowed cheering and jeering from the audience, which NBC did not (and I thought that helped a great deal).
But here’s what I think it was: I knew who most of the Democratic candidates were, so I didn’t have to struggle to follow it. The only unknown to me was Gravel, and he was so crazy he was at least entertaining.
With this one, I did not know who was speaking half the time. I am not exaggerating, and I’m not the only one. Rick Quinn said he watched the first half of it at his office, and everybody kept saying "Who’s that … who’s that?" And that was with an audience, as he pointed out, of people who make their living in politics — and Republican politics at that. So I felt better.
Sure, I knew a little bit about Huckabee and Brownback. But their faces are not recognizable to me. Not yet, and I doubt they will be, because I doubt either will be in it for all that long. Same with Tommy Thompson, and he actually is somebody. As for Tancredo, Hunter, Gilmore — who are they kidding? Ron Paul, who showed up at the wrong party’s debate, was the designated nutball, but unfortunately not nearly as amusing as the Democrats’ nutball.
That leaves three men who had any business being there, and I have my doubts about one or two of them.
As for the other seven — why in the world did Fox not keep their names up on the screen all of the time? It would have helped a great deal.