Despite getting advance notice that it would be worth a listen, I missed Hugh Hewitt’s interview on Wednesday with National Review’s Kevin Williamson that Saint Paul mentioned yesterday (by the way, I appreciate Saint Paul's more moderate call for my indefinite detention to keep me silenced instead of the obvious alternative of a drone strike). It’s a shame too because it’s not every day that you get a chance to hear a nationally syndicated shock jock lump you in with adherents of the various Bilderberg Group conspiracy theories (I assure you that the fact that I recently spent time in The Netherlands is completely coincidental). Hear that man on the radio, son? He’s calling daddy a kook.
From reading the transcripts of the interview conducted by the virulently pro-Romney talk radio host, I can see that my fears that members of the Republican establishment like Mr. Hewitt simply don’t get it are well founded. They view anyone who raises questions about the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington as being out of the mainstream. They still believe that only those left wing lunatics from Occupy Wall Street are concerned about Wall Street’s influence on Washington and vice versa. They believe that criticizing Wall Street is the same as criticizing free-market capitalism and that’s not something that real conservatives should do. They believe that Mitt Romney’s experience running Bain Capital will be viewed positively by the American people and will help propel him to victory over President Obama. Obviously I believe they’re wrong. But then again, I’m a kook so what do I know?
Another glaring blind spot for Mr. Hewitt and other establishment Republicans is that their dismissal of Ron Paul supporters. Yes, there are many positions of Mr. Paul’s that conservatives have problems with. And yes, some of Paul’s supporters can justifiable deserve the label “kook.” However, that does not mean that the GOP can blow off the entire Paul campaign and with it the very real frustration and anger out there that have lead people to embrace Ron Paul.
In yesterday’s WSJ, Daniel Henninger explained the importance of The Ron Paul Vote:
The 2010 election was the result of a coalition that extends well past the formal tea parties. It combines Republicans of all stripes, libertarians, independents and worried centrist Democrats. They all are "fiscally conservative" and socially all over the map. The Republican nominee, however, will be produced by only one part of this fiscal-conservative coalition—the angriest, most politically committed Republicans and libertarians.
The Paul candidacy is of course doomed. But the Paul vote won't die. This vote has been building in the depths of the American political ocean since the spending spree of the second Bush term. These people see the upward spending trend in annual outlays and accumulated commitments not as a "problem," as the Beltway prefers, but as a threat to their well-being.
The Romney campaign may assume that this vote must land by default in their man's lap. By the relentless logic of the Romney camp, that's true. But if we've learned anything the past several months, it's that this is one of the most volatile Republican electorates in a long while.
Mr. Romney is running a campaign strategy indeed targeted at the broad fiscal conservative coalition that emerged in 2010: Hold the worried independents and centrist Democrats by avoiding what in his Dec. 24 Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview he called "incendiary things." OK, we get that. Independent voters are easily flustered, dependent as they are on the policies of strangers.
But if the former Massachusetts governor doesn't reach out pretty soon to the Paul-Perry-Bachmann Republican protest voters, he may never get them. The longer he waits, the more pressure will build for a third-party challenge that will cost him the election. That it would be led by a Ron Paul or Donald Trump is irrelevant to why these people would vote third party—or stay home.
GOP standard bearers can continue to downplay the anti-Wall Street sentiment in America and label those who bring it up as “kooks.” They can continue to belittle Ron Paul supporters and make no effort to win their support. But if they do, they shouldn’t be surprised if they wake up on November 7th, scratch their heads, and try to figure out how they’re going to live with four more years of President Barack Obama.