Paul: Social issues are a loser in the election

posted at 10:25 am on February 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, Candy Crowley asked Ron Paul about the new focus in national politics on social issues and whether a national debate focusing on them would help Republicans in November.  Paul called it a “losing position,” but neglects to mention  that he has campaigned on his opposition to abortion at least since the Ames straw poll, an omission caught by CNS News:

“Do you–are you uncomfortable–certainly Rick Santorum is the one who has been in the forefront of some of this talk on social issues, but there have been others in the race,” Crowley asked Paul. “Are you uncomfortable with this talk about social issues? Do you consider it a winning area for Republicans in November?”

“No,” said Paul. “I think it’s a losing position.

“I mean, I talk about it because I have a precise understanding of how difficult problems are to be solved,” Paul continued. “And they’re not to be at the national level. We’re not supposed to nationalize these problems. The founders were very clear that problems like this, if there needs to be legislation of sorts, the state has the right to write the legislation that they so choose. And that solves a lot of our problems.”

Back on Dec. 19, Paul signed the “Personhood Pledge” published by PersonhoodUSA. This pledge says in part: “I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting ‘the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,’ and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I ‘support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.”

The current context of the debate on social issues hinges on federal mandates, a point which Paul acknowledges in this interview.  Why would that be a loser?  It’s practically the entire context of his campaign — reducing the power of federal government to issue the kind of mandates like the HHS mandate for employers to essentially provide free contraception to their employees.  Tying that in with social issues should make the argument stronger, at least if it’s handled correctly.

Matt Lewis argues that not only is Paul wrong, but history shows that Republicans do well when social issues are in play:

As Jeffrey Bell’s forthcoming book (per the Wall Street Journal’s review) notes,

“Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964. … The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period.

“. . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

(Emphasis mine.)

As much as moderate Republicans and cosmopolitan conservatives might lament the resurrection of the culture wars (which were foisted upon us, and appear to have been rekindled once again by liberal overreach), they were electorally fruitful for the GOP.

What is more, the notion that running on the economy (what Mr. Romney presumably seems comfortable doing) is a panacea, is dubious. The economy appears to be recovering (at least, the unemployment rate is dropping), a point which will obviously make it harder, should the trend continue, to oust Obama.

Even more to the point, history does not seem indicate that a struggling economy — regardless of who is to blame — or who currently occupies the White House — will benefit the Republican candidate in a general election. (This, of course, is controversial. Jimmy Carter’s handling of the economy was surely one cause of his 1980 defeat, but would he have been defeated had it not been for the Iranian hostages?)

If the economy starts heating up — which the CBO, among many others, predicts won’t happen — the election will have to hinge on larger, basic issues of limited power and Obama’s overreach.  If we shy away from challenging Obama on those positions now, we probably won’t have a candidate willing to do it in November.

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Not my numbers… CBO’s numbers….

…That $1.9T was just for Iraq.

If that had never happened? We’d be $2T richer. The Baathists would still be in control in Iraq. OBL would still be dead. And the rest of the world, when we tell them we have to invade Iran to stop them from developing WMD’s, won’t be saying “Isn’t that what you told us before you went into Iraq? Where are the WMD’s from there, BTW?”

Are you going to say we still would have not ended up where we are today with a downgraded credit rated, etc?
We’d be $2T richer. And the GOP wouldn’t have been wiped out in Congress as bad as we were. Quite possibly we could have avoided Barrack Obama.

JohnGalt23 on February 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

The cost or the Iraq War is $806B, not 2 Trillion. The $2T figure is not from the CBO, but the result of anti-war activist leveraging an old $559B CBO estimate and adding future medical estimates and interest.

Saddam would probably still be developing its WMD, still pretending it had nukes. Iran would of course have obtained nuclear weapons long ago, secure from any plausible US threat but needing security from Saddam. This of course would send Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others into panicked WMD purchasing sprees. Libya would still probably have its WMD and 20 million Iraqis would still be living under Saddam.

elfman on February 20, 2012 at 6:56 PM

You won’t be able to convince him or his supporters of that.

At least he won’t be taking any retirement benefits packages from Congress as a part of eschewing wasteful
government spending, right?

BlaxPac on February 20, 2012 at 5:35 PM

If I had as much money as Paul did I wouldn’t take the bennies either.

b1jetmech on February 20, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Wasteful government spending is the cause of a lot of moral decay. Social issues are not a loser unless Christians use them as an excuse to evangelize. Explain why and how the unintended consequences of a federally mandated program exacerbate social rot. Becauce clearly it does. If one has the choice of kicking back in the pjs all day or going out and putting up with the BS of commuting to work, pjs win 3 out of 4 times. It’s that way across the spectrum of well intended but misguided programs. Until you start to realize they aren’t misguided. They are specifically guided to build up the dependency base and assure political dominance in a system based one on person one vote.

Once the monkeys learn they can vote themselves bananas, they’ll never climb another tree.

pc on February 20, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Could care less how many Iraqis freed. Care very much that oil is plentiful in supply regardless of where it goes. In economic terms oil supply is inelastic. But a bbl on the market and it is sold. Always a buyer. So, by creating the oil plutocracy in Iraq DEPENDENT on western military support, we guarantee a bunch of oil for the world to buy. That’s a good thing. the alternative was allowing the next strong man despot to use drama to wear us down and even further bankrupt the west. Once Iran is out of the way, we could be looking at 20 years of high stock market returns and prosperity. Iran is the final piece.

pc on February 20, 2012 at 7:44 PM

We should blast them to smithereens just for the prosperity it’ll bring.

pc on February 20, 2012 at 7:46 PM

The nation.

The election.


profitsbeard at 11:07 AM

cableguy615 on February 20, 2012 at 7:56 PM

JohnGalt23 on February 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

So, not only are you shooting for the status of the most dishonest HotAir commentator, you’re shooting for the most boring, as well.

I find it amazing that you can get anyone here to respond to you anymore.

JannyMae on February 20, 2012 at 8:38 PM

I haven’t read Jeffrey Bell’s book, but the excerpts I have read omit one essential point: The existence of Roe v. Wade as cover for Republican anti-abortion rhetoric. When Roe actually appeared to be threatened by a Presidential election — ie. 1992 — the Democrat won. Hello Justice Ginsburg, hello Justice Breyer!

Maybe it was just a coincidence that Justices Stephens and Souter were succeeded by Sotomayor and Kagan… or maybe the public still doesn’t want to revisit Roe.

wbcoleman on February 20, 2012 at 8:47 PM

I can go onto Google Earth, and literally see our footprint in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Kuwait, (formerly) in Saudi Arabia. Lots of big Russian and Chinese bases I can look at?

Yes, you do. Syria, for one example. Because who the heck do you is think is teaching the Syrians to use those shiny new advanced SAM system, artillery, Jet fighter etc?

No, it is not uniformed troops as I’ve conceded, but they are there. The Cold War never really ended, just the role of the players.

And most times, wars are, in fact, avoidable. We didn’t have to go to “war” with Russia during the “Cold War”, and yet managed a fairly complete victory.

We managed a reasonable victory considering that armies did not march across a field. But we did spend lives & treasure to do so.

Millions did not die as such “traditional” wars, but thousands DID die in conflicts of the Cold War. Is it any less a war?

And the bad guys are worried about each other far more than they are the US, save for the fact that the US has a history of interfering with their affairs. We bugger out, the Iranians, Saudis, Turks, Egyptians and Israelis will just have to sort things out. And their regional concerns will, eventually, allow our interference to be forgotten, if not forgiven.

Again, this might have been a reasonable policy back when it took months or even weeks to reach other countries. That isn’t possible anymore.

I repeat: Its not possible.

And yet again, you say the best stragedy is for the US to totally pull out of the area…or any area where conflict is possible. Then how do you suppose we have trade with these or any other country? If you’ve noticed, we still have trade, even with our enemies, because total isolation doesn’t work.

Not to mention, your willingness to abandon an ally of our country in ANY part of the world makes no sense.

We’ve already “gave away” any chance that Turkey will not go “full-blown radical” because of a hands off policy…did that work out in our favor?

That’s a fine thought, when we can afford to tilt the see-saw.

Take a look at our fiscal deficit, and tell me we can afford to do anything.

That’s kinda what I meant. We can’t afford to everything. But things that can be cut, should be cut. But cutting Defense as a cost saving move doesn’t really save anything at all and as was proven in the past, winds up costing us twice as much.

Not to mention, comparing the cost of cutting the budget to the Dept. of Education is as harmless as not keeping as many aircraft carries or Infantry Divisions is folly.

Or as my Grandaddy would say “The Marine Corp has done a hell of a lot more for Peace than the Peace Corp”.

Does this mean that DoD should get everything on it’s Christmas list? No, but the only way to ensure peace is to have enough tools for war.

Not my numbers… CBO’s numbers.

Again, I granted you that. I can’t do the research for it but as a thumbnail sketch in general I usually can look at the back of my Federal Income Tax book and Defense always seems to be a smaller slice of the pie than whats outlaid for Social programs overall.

If i go down the list of “acceptable” vs “unacceptable” programs the former will be smaller than the later and the Defense budget, but that still doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make cuts.

If i want a more detailed view, I will have to wade through my copy of:

“Historical Tables. Budget of the US Government” [] created my the Office of Management & Budget. The copy I have covers 1980 to 2010.

That $1.9T was just for Iraq.

What about Obamcare? That program ALONE is project to cost $1 Trillion. How did Rep Paul vote on that one, in fact?

If that had never happened? We’d be $2T richer.

No, we’d “investing” at least half of that in adding even more options to Obamcare. We both agree its not just the spending, but who’s got control of the charge card. I wasn’t happy with GWB spending, you surely cant be with Obama’s.

The Baathists would still be in control in Iraq. OBL would still be dead. And the rest of the world, when we tell them we have to invade Iran to stop them from developing WMD’s, won’t be saying “Isn’t that what you told us before you went into Iraq? Where are the WMD’s from there, BTW?”

The invasion and the fall for Saddam wasn’t a bad thing at all. The country has a chance to stand or fall on its on, but a chance nevertheless. OBL would still be dead, yes. But he would have been deader sooner, if we had taken the chance instead of waffling over how the world would view us.

Like I give a hang. This isn’t a talent contest, its about American interests, which usually has the side benefit of not letting things swirl down the drain for the rest of the world.

It was in our best interest if nothing else to remove him from the board. Even if you want to put it down as Imperialism, it was a pretty benign one, since we’re not going to be around there much longer…allegedly.

Plus, it’s not like the United States is the only one to say that Iran wants the Bomb. IRAN is saying Iran wants the bomb. Am I wrong?

We’d be $2T richer. And the GOP wouldn’t have been wiped out in Congress as bad as we were. Quite possibly we could have avoided Barrack Obama.

Again you’re assuming that $2trillion wouldn’t have been spent by Congress at all. IMHO, the reasons why they lost the majority was because they spent just as bad as the Dems. I wasn’t happy with the GWB giving in on the prescription drug plan, but those billions were paltry compared to what Obama gave us in just 1 term in office.

Avoid Obama? Doubtful. The GOP ran a weak candidate. Ron Paul wasn’t mesmerizing anyone anymore than he has in the last 4-5 times he’s ran for office. Obama was just different enough to distract the public, while the lack of real investigation into his past was not done by the press. That’s how we got the guy.

Alarm bells are going off, Willie!!

No smoke, no fire. When I said the $2Trillion is a paltry sum, I meant it in the context of “What price Security”…but I also meant that compared to what we’re spending NOW on things like the Obamacare program, that’s not chump change either, and by its very nature, will cost us more in the same amount of time as the wars in the ME.

Thanks in no small part to Senator Frothy and his unquestioning support of GWB’s orgy of domestic spending.

And the Frothmeister’s position on Fannie/Freddie, when he actually was in a position to do something about them?

Not sure who Senator Frothy is…but okay! I was against most of the spending during GWB, as I am the spending now. One was bad, but you have to admit, this is a heck of a lot worse right?

I don’t think they gave a damn about us. I don’t think most of them could find the US on a map. OBL cared about the US, not the Taliban. And had they demonstrated the wisdom to hand him and the rest of the Arab thugs in their country over to us after 9/11, we wouldn’t have given a damn about them.

I don’t totally disagree on the spirit as much the phrasing, I think. Yes, the Taliban didn’t really care about us other than us being non-believers. That being the case, if they cared about their alliance with OBL, do you really think they would just “hand him over” if we asked pretty please. He was a believer, and to a majority of them, he fought for the faith. Them turning him over wasn’t going to happen.

Did Americans care about Afghanistan the way we did during the Cold War? Nope, because during President Clinton terms in office, we ignored Afghanistan…which led to the rise of the Taliban, ironically. Which again proves that a “Hands off” approach does not work all the time in every case. If at all.

I suppose you would have said that to Kissinger about Paris, huh? Still prefer that we be in SE Asia?

No. But i prefer that you don’t throw away victory because it’s “inconvenient” or politically incorrect. We left SE Asia and well…again I ask; How did that turn out?

Dare us.

JohnGalt23 on February 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Cripes John, we’ve been daring you all since Lyndon Larouche & Ross Perot.

Even barring them, how many years has Ron Paul ran for President under the Libertarian Party banner. Why hasnt he won ANY election at ANY time and NEVER garnered more than 20% at any time of his campaigns?

More importantly: Why do you believe that NOW is his time?

He won’t be president, sorry. He has no chance, no matter which banner he runs under, you do see that right? Even if you agree with him, it doesn’t make him a viable candidate.

OTOH, i feel the same about Romney, but less so. I would vote for Romney if he is the nominee, but if RP was I would not. just my $0.02 worth

BlaxPac on February 20, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Sorry about the long winded post, folks!

Must have been built up from being denied being a commentator all these years… :o)

I will try to keep it more tolerable. LOL

BlaxPac on February 20, 2012 at 11:40 PM

I hate to say, but I think I’ve actually found something that Ron Paul says that I can agree with.

JFS61 on February 21, 2012 at 12:43 AM

Paul is a loser.

tom daschle concerned on February 21, 2012 at 1:28 AM

Ron Paul talks out both sides of his mouth almost as well as that asshat Obama. Paul has zero chance to win the nomination and even less chance at beating Obama, but his batshyt crazy legion of PaulBots will ensure the GOP nominee does not receive any PaulBot votes.

insidiator on February 21, 2012 at 7:45 AM