Stewart is dead on. I couldn't believe the baldness with which they skipped right over him in the news coverage, and jumped down to the lower votegetters. It's shocking, really. The Atlantic columnist on this page makes many of my points explicit, so read his essay below the clip.
Then read this NYT article, "Ron Paul: He Who Shall Not Be Named," on whether they are ignoring Ron Paul -- and follow the logic of why they dismiss him. If you can follow it, that is.... How bald does this have to get before everyone admits that the punditry and political press have their own agenda?
Their insider argument to themselves is as follows:
1. Ron Paul, let's face it, simply can't win. It doesn't matter how much money he raises, how well he does in polls, how well he does in straw polls. He's too radical to win. A limited number of very noisy supporters accounts for all his success, and that won't stand up to the real election. So there's no point in covering him.
2. All the other candidates, no matter how poorly they do, could conceivably get elected.
3. BECAUSE they are all middle of the road to some degree, whereas Ron Paul is simply too radical to win the voters.
4. Therefore we can leap ahead to the assumption that he can't possibly win, and we can ignore him (except for eyebrow raising dismissals once in a while).
So -- it's a horse race and nothing but a horse race. Except there is a clear judgement call mixed in there, despite denials of taking sides: He;s too radical in our opinion and we judge that most others will agree and not vote for him.
What's wrong with this seemingly not unreasonable argument is that it assumes a lock-in to the status quo of political opinion. All opinions, ideas, and suggestions that are outside the middle-of-the-road conventional wisdom are unthinkable -- which creates the mystery of where change comes from in the world of politics? We wait for a powerful mainstream politician to suddenly get a fresh idea and risk his career on it?
Every major political and ideological shift of the past hundred years has come from the so-called fringes -- once-radical ideas that gradually gain traction as the public mulls them over (and becomes fed up with conventional solutions that aren't working).
But the press believes that the last thing it should ever do is treat the political sphere as a battleground of ideas. The safest thing for the press, as for the conventional politicians, is to treat it all as a horse race. Period.
So Ron Paul, who has fought against our multiple wars for ten years while both parties have dragged us deeper in, until now a growing number agree with him, is a radical.
What excuse do they have when, as happened in the Republican debate, everyone on stage starts moving in Ron Paul's direction regarding the war? Or the Fed? Or other issues? How do they dismiss him then?
We're getting to see....