No, Ron Paul 2012 Is Not Like Barack Obama 2008

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Andrew Sullivan responds to my post this morning about Ron Paul here, but he still doesn’t explain why there’s anything wrong with a journalist explaining—accurately, I think—how the Republican establishment would view a Ron Paul victory in Iowa. Answer: They’d consider it a freak accident and blow it off. That’s what Chris Wallace said, and it’s the kind of analysis that political reporters engage in all the time. It seems entirely nonremarkable to me.

But forget that. What I’m really curious about is this throwaway sentence:

I might add that up to this point in the last cycle, exactly the same things were said about Barack Obama.

At least, I’d normally think of it as a throwaway sentence except that he said the exact same thing yesterday:

I feel the same way about [Ron Paul] on the right in 2012 as I did about Obama in 2008. Both were regarded as having zero chance of being elected.

Who’s crazy here, Sullivan or me? I know I have an unusually sucky memory, but “this point in the last cycle” would be December 15, 2007. And no question about it: Hillary Clinton was considered the front-runner and enjoyed a sizable poll lead. But was Obama really not taken seriously? Considered a fringe candidate? Given zero chance of winning? Hated by the Democratic establishment? That’s sure not what I remember. I remember an extremely robust primary contest practically from Day 1, with plenty of support for both candidates from both the grassroots and the establishment. Nobody wrote Obama off, nobody claimed an Iowa victory would be meaningless, and nobody treated him as a vanity candidate. Nobody.

Am I missing something here?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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