Ron Paul received an unexpected credibility boost in his presidential run when Senator John McCain dropped an "H-bomb" on him in last week’s debates. Not a real H-bomb, of course, though Bomber John surely pines to have his finger on that trigger.
I refer here to the rhetorical H-bomb, the gratuitous reference to Hitler in any political debate through any of the many variations on the reductio ad Hitlerum logical fallacy. Politicians who toss H-bombs make a strong argument for bringing back the vaudevillian hook, but McCain’s fling here is more interesting for his having done it at all than for its accuracy.
While answering a question about the flat tax Senator McCain switched without warning to Iraq. He wheeled on Congressman Paul and accused him of favoring a foreign policy like the one that allowed Hitler to come to power. To the crowd’s great credit, McCain was roundly booed for the suggestion, though there were cheers mixed in.
It’s unlikely the audience recognized McCain’s sloppy logic or his ignorance of history. Mixed boos and cheers are the natural, confused reaction to the H-bomb. The Hitler Bomb depends for effect on logical fallacy, usually guilt by association or questionable cause. McCain used the questionable cause fallacy here. The mere mention of the name "Hitler" does the emotional heavy lifting.
The causes of Hitler’s rise to power were much more firmly anchored in the vengeful peace imposed by the Treaty of Versailles and the Federal Reserve’s first big depression than in American "isolationism." McCain’s peculiar interpretation of "isolationism" simply blew a little smoke into his historical house of mirrors.
For Bomber John, and neocons everywhere, if you are not raining death on a city or sending soldiers to occupy villages in Godforsaken backwaters, you are an isolationist. Using McCain’s logic we would have to believe that a reluctance to bomb and invade potential enemies is irresponsible. And that such fastidious timidity encourages would-be Hitlers to overthrow legitimate governments, arm to the teeth and set out to conquer continents. We would also have to believe that Hitler wanna-bees are thick on the ground in the Mideast (except in Israel) and potential world-conquering tyrants occupy every public office in the region.
Dr. Paul explained that you are not an "isolationist" simply because you need a good reason to drop bombs, shoot people and invade foreign lands. Peaceful trade, travel and information exchange are no more "isolationist" than a global military empire and a good deal cheaper. Particularly an empire like the modern U.S. Imperium that just doesn’t pay.
The American Empire ignores the traditional imperial business model, a scheme in which the conqueror lives in opulence on the sweat of the conquered. The American Empire, as Dr. Paul so accurately pointed out, uses money supplied by homeland taxpayers to wreck bridges, power plants and waterworks in the outlands. Then we toss in some more borrowed cash to rebuild everything and buy chocolate for the orphans. America wages war as if it were a demented welfare project where a vast swarm of laborers digs holes that another enormous team fills in again the next day.
It would be wasteful and comical if it were simply another government boondoggle. But the unimaginable size and destructiveness of the imperial dodge long ago went beyond farce to genuine tragedy. Future generations are shackled by debt to an unwinnable war on terror. The WOT squanders billions and kills thousands of innocent people every year. With no real enemy in the world except loosely defined "terrorists," who couldn’t possibly outnumber the soldiers in a single armored division, America spends more on "defense" than the next ten largest countries combined.
Ron Paul is the only candidate from either party who has the character and courage to observe that not only is the Emperor naked, he’s broke too. Recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery.
From a political perspective, Ron Paul should be encouraged by what was certainly a planned attack by McCain. You don’t attack opponents you are not worried about. McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000. He’d like to do it again. If he didn’t see Dr. Paul as a threat to that victory he wouldn’t be tossing around H-bombs now.
In several early primary states Ron Paul is within striking distance of McCain. In New Hampshire, a recent local poll shows McCain leading Paul by only five points.
Half the voters in New Hampshire are independents. It is among them that Ron Paul is strongest, polling 27% support. He is behind only Giuliani for the independent vote. Winning in the Granite State is critical to McCain’s strategy in the primaries. There is little question now that he thinks he can lose to Ron Paul.
New Hampshire’s state motto is "Live Free or Die." It’s the perfect place for Ron Paul’s message of limited government, personal freedom, and a small, defensive military to strike a sweet, unfamiliar chord with voters.
The Paul campaign has serious money and enthusiastic support. I’m sending a few more bucks today. I’ve said before in this column that I don’t vote because the difference between a Republicrat and a Demolican isn’t worth a pitcher of spit. Ron Paul is the only Republican I’ve ever seen for whom that isn’t true. I’ll vote for him every chance I get even if I have to come back to the United States to do it.