Monday, December 17, 2007

The Ron Paul Tea Party and More

The push of the Ron Paul grassroots continued with yesterday's Boston Tea Party event. The over $6 million raised from almost 60,000 donors is truly impressive, setting a new US record for single-day primary fundraising. As much as I've ragged on certain elements of the grassroots, the 'roots ability to put together and coordinate events like this, as well as the Ron Paul Blimp are responsible for making Paul into a factor to be dealt with. Indeed, Paul's first noticeable rise in national support corresponded almost perfectly with the Guy Fawkes Day moneybomb.

Were it not for the counterproductive effects of the elements that I've previously discussed, I suspect that his support would be nearing or crossing the 10% threshold. Like it or not, Paul is out of the American political mainstream, and that makes him an extremist in the eyes of most people.

Which makes Paul's 30-minute infomercial slated for airtime in Iowa worth discussing. The infomercial is set to air next weekend throughout the state. I don't know much about the tine of day the infomercial will air, or about the amount of viewership he can expect from it. But for a voter who has bought into the picture of Paul as a conspiracy-obsessed extremist (myself included), the infomercial could be quite persuasive. Not that I found it persuasive on the issues; just that the infomercial does a terrific job of presenting Paul as something not too far afield from the type of old-time politician that people always reminisce about (even though they never really existed).

The infomercial does a terrific job of prominently featuring photos with Paul talking to the sainted Ronald Reagan. The beginning also has a terrific, down-home folksy appeal that somehow manages to come across as sincere. The next thing it accomplishes is giving Paul a platform to fully explain his positions, which for the most part he does in a way that manages to make himself seem perfectly within the mainstream of American politics. He even manages to talk about the NAU silliness in a coherent way that didn't make me cringe too much (I'm still not persuaded, but his discussion of it is surprisingly rational). The part where he loses me is the immigration issue, and there's a period of about 5-7 minutes in the middle in general where it goes off track a little bit and the tone gets a bit shrill.

But on the whole, the infomercial does a great job of presenting Paul's positions in a logical, coherent, and sincere manner. One of its strengths is that it puts the core Republican issues right up front, and he goes right after the terrorism issue. What is great about the terrorism issue is that he does a fairly good job of refuting the notion that his thoughts on terrorism are "unserious." In a way, he even implies that it is the "bomb them and let God sort 'em out" crowd that are unserious about fighting terrorism.

For a voter sitting on the fence about Paul or who may have been turned off by some of the whackier supporters, I can see the informercial being quite persuasive. Right now, he is between 5 and 8 percent in the polls in Iowa; a high turnout from his existing supporters could feasibly put him in third place in the caucuses. If he can use this infomercial to get some of those fence sitters or would-be supporters into the fold, it is quite easy to see him picking up a few delegates and getting some publicity as the big surprise of the day.

The infomercials are below, if you have a half-hour to waste: