Uncommon Sense

September 7, 2011

Ignoring Ron Paul

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 2:52 pm
Tags: , ,

The candidate who just missed taking first place in the Iowa Straw Poll, Ron Paul, didn’t even get a mentioned in the post-Poll rundown in favor of people who finished further down the list. Now I happen to like some of Congressman Paul’s ideas, others not so much, and as a candidate he has been consistent and well liked by a sizable portion of the electorate. One of Mr. Paul’s ideas I very much like is his idea on foreign trade and policy: he thinks we ought to deal fairly and trade will all other countries equally. Currently we have “special” trading partners and treat even our staunchest allies who deviate the slightest from our recommendations as enemies. The classic case was when France didn’t take our lead in the second Iraq war. In the first place, they were right, there was no real justification for that war and, second, what they were asked to do conflicted with their national interests. (Didn’t matter to us, we excoriated them. “May I have ‘Freedom Fries’ with my hamburger, please”)

Mr. Paul’s ideas aside, there is a reason why the press was ignoring him: according to their pundits, Mr. Paul had no chance to win. You see, actual performance is irrelevant in today’s political arena, only whether someone meets the expectations set counts. This is a little like the stock market. A company can make a 20% profit for the year, quite a spectacular performance, but some Wall Street Analysts thought they should have made 25% profit, so their stock gets sold off. A baseball player has a performance that is certainly high quality, but if it fails expectations, so-called “experts” start asking whether he should be traded. It doesn’t matter what you actually do, just how what you do compares with expectations.

Can you imagine what weather reports would be like? The weather never shapes up the way it is predicted. The evening TV reports would label each days weather as “disappointing,” I guess. This phenomenon works in quite strange ways. Consider Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann is a candidate for President, Palin teases that she “might could” run. Neither of these Republicans has ever done anything. Can you name any of their accomplishments? Even one? Nope, they haven’t done anything, and on that basis the political pundits have lavished huge amounts of attention upon the both of them. Apparently those pundits have expectations about what they would do as candidates (the terms mud wrestling and pole dancing have arisen).

So, upon what bases do these pundits create their expectations, what record do any of them have regarding their predictions? Does anyone keep score? I don’t think so.

What I think is that the 24 hour news cycle is distorting our political discourse. It has created an ever large pundit class which shapes our political ideas and discussions in ways invisible to us now. (Studies in some years will tell us what we did wrong. A fat lot of good it will do us now.)

We need alternative news sources and we need them now. We need people to look at this zoo and describe all of the strange animals in it: the Karl Rove House for political masterminds, the Money Sources Exhibit (exhibit currently closed and will stay that way) and, of course, the Monkey Island where we find all of our candidates. Unfortunately the “free press” has been bought by interest groups and is free of restraint but full of bias, especially toward the moneyed interests of the country.

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