EVERYTHING CAN BE SHOEHORNED INTO THE GOP NARRATIVE, EVEN A RON PAUL WIN IN IOWA
David Sirota tweets:
Ron Paul winning Iowa would be among best things to happen in a long time for cause of ending Permanent War & protecting civil liberties.
In an ideal scenario, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and some other candidate would each get enough delegates to create a deadlocked first ballot at the convention. At that point, Ron Paul could negotiate terms for shifting his delegates' support to one or the other of the other candidates (or to a draft candidate).... a dose of sanity on the Pentagon's budget and drug policy could help our country move in a more positive direction. It's hard to say if more influence from Paulistas could move the GOP in a saner direction overall. I think it more likely to just weaken the party's cohesiveness and party discipline. But I'd see that as a major positive, too.
With all due respect, I think Sirota and BooMan may be overestimating Ron Paul's ability to make inroads in the GOP, and underestimating the ability of establishment and tea party Republicans to fit virtually anything into their master narrative of Good and Evil. Recall what the folks at Public Policy Polling said about their finding that Paul is leading in Iowa:
Paul's base of support continues to rely on some unusual groups for a Republican contest. Among voters under 45 he's at 33% to 16% for Romney and 11% for Gingrich.... Paul is also cleaning up 35-14 with the 24% of voters who identify as either Democrats or independents.
If Paul wins Iowa, the message is going to be: Well, yeah, but that's because he won among liberals. Remember that the GOP defines all young people as liberals, and therefore as not "real" Americans, which is why you get Republicans like William O'Brien:
New Hampshire House Speaker William O'Brien, a Republican, told a tea party group that allowing people to register and vote on Election Day led to "the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That's what kids do -- they don't have life experience, and they just vote their feelings."
And then, in addition to the young, Paul's coalition consists of ... non-Republicans! It doesn't matter that these people are rejecting interventionist government, or that only some of them are Democrats -- if Paul wins Iowa, they'll be called a 100% cabal of liberals.
Maybe this won't be the reaction if Paul does well after Iowa and New Hampshire (which I don't see happening), and if his coalition gets older and redder. But even then, I think the term "RINO" will be freely applied to his voters. I predict the GOP will cede nothing to Paul, no matter how many votes and delegates he runs up. (Since I think Jesus-y, jingoistic South Carolina will be Paul's Waterloo, I don't expect either of those numbers to be very large.)
The GOP has frozen out anti-choice candidates on the national ticket for a generation. At the state and local level, it freezes out moderates in all but the bluest locales. It will freeze out Paul and his supporters.