Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"I spent $25 million and all I got was this lousy primary."

Ron Paul was a promising candidate with good potential. Polls showed that a third of Republicans were against the war and that would have been enough to win primaries -- so where did all those people go when votes were counted?

It's not that Ron Paul was repellant to the Republican base. Compare his consistency on abortion, illegal immigration, and gun control with the rest of the flip-floppers in the presidential race. No, it wasn't issues that did Ron Paul in.

Nor was lack of money. That's for sure.

Someone will say, "The MSM was against him." But Fox News aside, the MSM was sympathetic. Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan, and George Will expressed support. Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, and Wolf Blitzer were warm and polite. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were enthusiastic hosts. And when you appear twice on Jay Leno, you can't say you're being overlooked. So let's not blame the MSM.

So who can we blame for his lackluster performance?

His own staff, that's who.

Take a look at this link: Graniteprof. It reports ad buys for the biggest TV station in New Hampshire, WMUR. John McCain's campaign spent $1.1 million in ad buys, while Ron Paul's spent only $270,000. McCain outspent Paul on advertising by a factor of four. Could that have anything to do with why McCain received four times as many votes?

True, ads have to be purchased months in advance, but even as early as the end of the third quarter last year, Paul had millions more in the bank than McCain. So 'long lead buy time' is not an excuse. Something is not right here.

You see that by looking at the jaw-dropping lack of professionalism in the ads themselves. Here's the infamous first one, and I'll let the Youtube comments speak for us all: "ROFL, this ad is hilarious!" "really fake sorry but it is" "Best Candidate. WORST AD EVER!"

Ron Paul graduated from medical school, served ten terms in Congress, and has written several books. Since he isn't an idiot, why is his campaign acting like one?

The campaign skimped on ad buys. The ads it bought were amateurish, a sure sign the money wasn't spent on production values. So what was the money spent on?

Maybe you think it went into organization, but nope. Here's a pro-Paul blogger who ominously entitles his entry, "Getting Ron Paul elected in spite of the campaign":
The push to collect enough signatures to get Paul on the ballot in Virginia was a success, but only because the grassroots local guys worked their asses off. The national office told them everything was taken care of, and it wasn’t until very late in the drive that people realized nothing was being done whatsoever. Ballot access is not some trivial detail - it is the number one priority of an electoral campaign to get the candidate on the ballot!
. . . Apparently there are many, many more examples of no brainer campaign tasks being dropped or bungled.

It sounds like the plot to The Producers: run a campaign, collect contributions, and deliberately fail -- and under current campaign spending laws you're allowed to keep the remaining funds for personal use. Paul himself was reluctant to run for President and long ago rejected his Congressional pension as 'immoral,' so he appears above reproach. But too often his staffers have put themselves first, campaign and candidate second. Sadly, there's a long history of Paul choosing staffers of such questionable loyalty.

You may have heard of Eric Dondero. He was a Paul Congressional staffer for years, who broke with Paul over post-9-11 foreign policy and has since become a real thorn in the side, even running for Paul's Congressional seat. The point: does it speak well of Paul's personnel judgment that he hired such a disloyalist for his staff?

When asked about Dondero's betrayal, Paul said, " . . . if Eric Dondero is the only thing I have to worry about, then I don't have a lot to worry about." That may be all too true. Dondero, after all, was never tainted financially.

With that in mind, this article of his says something we should heed:

Rep. Ron Paul’s 1988 Libertarian Presidential campaign started with great promise: A former four-term Republican US Congressman running on the ticket of America’s third largest party. But it ended in failure and even scandal. Many were predicting over 1 million votes—a Libertarian record. Paul ended up with 435,000. On the money front it was even more of a downer. By some estimates over $3.5 million was raised. Most of it was squandered on full-page NY Times ads, escapades to the Republican National Convention, and lavish luncheons for visiting Libertarian luminaries. On Election Day scores of Lawyers, and Accountants raided the Ron Paul for President Campaign Headquarters and closed down the campaign operation. Campaign Manager Nadia Hayes was arrested by the Nassau Bay, TX Police Department and later convicted for embezzlement of roughly $140,000.American Libertarian magazine November 1988 described the situation: “…a bizarre twist tough-talking campaign manager Nadia Hayes was sacked the day before the election. And the much awaited last minute campaign media blitz largely failed to materialize….

Déjà vu. What does this say of Paul's inability to discipline his staff?

We see the same underlying problem in the scandal about those 1990s newsletters that were published with Paul's name on the header and racist remarks within. Paul claims he never saw the remarks and blames a staffer. Coming from any other politician, I'd call this evasive, but knowing how Paul consistently lets his staffers walk all over him, it's not surprising it happened or that he refuses to this day to name the staffer -- on the advice, of course, of his staff. They do look out for their own, no matter the cost to the candidate, and the candidate invariably allows himself to be dragged under.

This is not a man in control of his destiny. That was manifest on day of the New Hampshire primary, when his sole public response to the erupting scandal was to repeatedly chant "It's old news" as he walked to his car. That he's talking about it at all tells us that deep down he knows that suppressing information is wrong. And yet he allows his staff to intimidate him into official silence.

How vulnerable is Paul to staff bullying? Tucker Carlson writes of a likeable, intelligent, and yet pathologically flawed personality:
He can't stand to tell other people what to do, even people who've shown up looking for instructions. On board the campaign's tiny chartered jet one night . . . Paul and his staff engaged in an unintentionally hilarious exchange about the cabin lights. The staff wanted to know whether Paul preferred the lights on or off. Not wanting to be bossy, Paul wouldn't say. Ultimately, the staff had to guess. It was a long three minutes.
When there's a scandal in the Rudy Giuliani campaign, Giuliani has his fingerprints all over it. But Ron Paul? A man who can't tell his staff to turn on a light probably is in the dark about his campaign finances, too.

The staffers aren't just out to loot the campaign and undermine the candidate, they're also out to get the volunteer movement too. A glaring example occurred in July 2007, when the New York Times Magazine published an article that quoted a letter sent from a Meetup group head to the national campaign headquarters, describing the typical Ron Paul Meetup as full of people who ". . . consider each other ‘wackos’ . . . ." At the time, the media flap was over whether the slur was valid, but let's not forget something far more sinister: somebody on the staff leaked a confidential letter, thereby feeding the reporter the 'wacko' angle. There can only be one motive for the leak. The official campaign staff wanted to discredit the independent volunteer campaign as much as possible.

We're the wackos? We're not the ones publishing racist newsletters or being convicted of embezzlement, are we?

Why would the official campaign staff want to discredit volunteers? Perhaps, because they fear that someday we might go over their heads and talk to the candidate about what they're doing, and that's the end of their power.

As long as power is in their hands, they'll only use it for the sake of power. We're the ones who raise the money and get things done. Look on Youtube -- we even produce better ads than they do, on zero budget! They may have twenty-five million dollars -- the money we raised -- but in terms of campaign visibility, it's like they're not even there. We volunteers are the ones who are making the Revolution happen.

That's something to think about, assuming we still want anything to do with the campaign. Or is it time to leave candidate and staffers to their decades of complementary dysfunctions, and transform the movement we've created into something larger than any one personality?


BJT said...

Compelling analysis. And strangely, this is the last place we might have thought to look for infiltrators.

The TV ads sucked, and the media buys for one-hour TV specials feel suspicious to me. Better to advertise during a show people are already watching.

frankdogg said...

Whether correct or not, this is a legitimate argument. Although I am not a seasoned campaign analyst, my profession is advertising, and the campaign's choices for ads have been interesting, to say the least. I offered up both of these ads I created for free to the campaign, said I would make any changes they wanted free of charge, as well as my services in addition to these, totally free, and I never got a call back or response.

Imagine America Ad

Ron Paul Is Ad

I'm not saying that these are the ads that they should go with, but in comparison to what they are airing, it may be a better approach to help validate Dr. Paul as a top notch candidate.

Regardless, grassroots (myself included) will continue to do everything in our power to get Ron Paul elected, I just wish I felt that the official campaign was doing the same, with the same amount of passion.

keystroke-ga said...

Nobody's perfect, and this seems to be Ron Paul's one flaw: loyalty to staff and ability to overlook their incompetence. He could bring so much good to the office of the President that I don't think it is anything to hold against him, any more than Giuliani has the same problem as well as some things I've heard of Huckabee.

Dondero seems to be a case of RP keeping an absolute idiot around because the guy was a libertarian and worked hard (by all accounts, the one thing Dondero can do very well is gather signatures for libertarian causes) and because Dr. Paul is obviously loyal. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Dondero who wrote those newsletters.

An accompanying problem to the staff incompetence is the media's ignoring Dr. Paul. This could have been helped by a good staff experienced with the media. With $20 million we could have gotten crack staffers the last two months.

Oh, well. Lesson learned. Even if you have a laissez faire managerial style, you need to look for actual results and have the compunction to fire people every once in a while.

David said...

Very interesting. Well written with a great deal of citation. However, your comments at the end bummed me out.

It can certainly be said that the campaigning has a lack of direction and its staffers generally inexperienced. That's one thing. It is another thing all together to claim that the staffers are seeking power to the detrement of the campaign. It makes me wonder if such a claim comes from a misapplication of the Libertarians' suspicions for those in charge.

I don't see anything sinster in the slip of the wacko comment. I simply see inexperience. While you do point out that petty greed has hurt the campaign before, I do not see any gain that would motivate the staffers to discredit the independent supporters. The campaign has recognized that such groups help them.

Clay Rhanul said...

After the money bombs started bringing in the millions, the staff evidently decided that maybe the volunteers were at least 'useful idiots,' and toned down the passive-aggressive undermining of the volunteers.

But they're still keeping the volunteers at arm's length. Even Trevor Lyman (the bomb and blimp guy) has had only a few minutes one-on-one with the candidate.

All candidates live in a bubble created by their sycophants, and few ever realize that their reality is being filtered. It is up to the volunteer movement to break through the bubble. But that is only the first step. The next, and much bigger step, is to get the candidate to accept the remedy, which will involve dismissing (i.e., 'sacking') people that he's known for decades and has considered friends. That could be traumatic, but unless the candidate is willing to take that step, he is unfit for an executive role.

All of this assumes that irreparable damage has not yet been done.

MPH said...

Even in an alternative universe where the Doctor had a chance at being elected -- he doesn't sound like a person capable of organizing an effective White House team.

Clay Rhanul said...

In the universe we live in, past Presidents have not been paragons. They've been afflicted by stroke, heart attack, senility, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Some have been what we call 'stupid.' (Not to name names.) A few of them have even been morally challenged.

Ron Paul is mentally and ethically sound. He needs to dismiss his campaign staff and get a better one. The volunteers can help him do that. If he will heed their advice, then he will have proven himself worthy of the job. Unless, of course, a paragon comes along.

Nikolovikis said...

Yeah, the ads "sucked" to us internet savvy supporters but did any of the other candidates have amazingly innovate works of political art for ads? Please don't mention Chuck Norris.

It doesn't seem like the people who go out to vote, the old tried and true voters that always participate care how flashy or innovative your ad is... the industry norm for these types of things are just what Paul did. Usually it's some voice over with a low register voice and some text for an issue and an American flag.

NONE of the candidates had groundbreaking cinematic 29 second spots here, come on....It would appeal to the people on youtube who already are going to vote for Paul and not regular voters who are use to regular campaign tactics.

As far as the embezzlement thing from his run before, I think I'm getting full of negative news, jesus.

That little snidey finale to the article about dropping and taking the movement away, yeah show me the next Ron Paul 2.0 that still has that powerful of a message and track record in congress minus some human error. That debate last night firmly convinced me I'm seeing this thing through all the way, I'm not disengaging from this once in a lifetime candidate.

Clay Rhanul said...

The ads suck not only because of their lack of flashiness but also because of their lack of genuineness. It is a remarkable achievement, for usually the one virtue of a low budget is to convey sincerity. And how do you manage to convey insincerity when your subject is Ron Paul? As far as I can see, you have to work at that.

I am glad you choose to support the candidate. Perhaps you could persuade his staff to do likewise.

Nikolovikis said...

Genuineness is subjective, and for old-school voters is unneccessary in terms of commercials. His message is genuine from what the other Neocons offer and he has never been better in a debate as in Jan 10, so we'll see what happens next. If you feel passionately about making avant-garde 29 second spot commercials by all means go apesh*t on youtube but it wouldn't phase more likely Republican voters who just care about the issues. Alienating his staff at this point is a non-issue, with Super Tuesday approaching it's inpractical for him to have a facelift of all his organization when he needs to campaign hard.

And he certainly isn't going to run after 4 years again because of his age, so either ride this out now for all it's worth or seriously, dismiss yourself quietly.


Clay Rhanul said...

Perhaps it would be excessive to fire his entire staff, but nonetheless there are plainly individuals with the campaign organization who are undermining him, and they must be dismissed before they cause greater damage.

To assert that betrayal never happens in politics or that it's an issue not worth pursuing, one must be unimaginably naive or have an agenda of one's own. I'll put you down as naive.

nikolovikis said...

I didn't assert betayal never happens in politics or it's not worth persuing and digging it out..., I said it's "inpractical" for this reorganization to be taken into as Super Tuesday is approaching.

You know, the day that will determine if this campaign is over or not, and where all his resources need to be focused on states he wants to win...

Anonymous said...

Original Bloggers intimations are borderline libelous. Poster attempts implicating Ron Paul's current campaign staff with charges of fraud because some prior campaign worker was accused of it.

Even responding to these allegations is a waste of time, except to make the point that this is the kind of infighting and calumny that withers a campaign and wastes our energy.

Go forth and promote Ron Paul and educate your fellow citizens about limited constitutional government.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes those of good nature find it hard to stand for their own rights but will fight like hell for yours. I sort of get this feeling about Dr Paul. He needs fighters on his side to help him fight his personal battles. Help him understand “his problems are ours also”. You are only as good as those that work for or with you. This is a nice guy and if were not careful they will tear him apart with this sort of game. This is probably how the letters were written, he trust some that may use him.