I don’t check in on the editorial page of the New York Times very often, because why? It’s easier to follow the ravings of the far left on Twitter, if I am so inclined. But I did look at yesterday’s editorials, which included this one: “Can Rand Paul Win With His Principles?” The editorial commented on Senator Paul’s speech announcing his presidential candidacy. This is how the Times begins:
At some point in every election cycle since 1992, when the Republican “culture war” helped lead to President George H. W. Bush’s defeat by Bill Clinton, the Republican Party has made a display of talking about expanding its appeal beyond a base of voters that has steadily grown whiter, richer, more intolerant and more right wing.
The Times editorialists really haven’t been paying attention. It is the appeal of the Democratic Party–their party–that keeps getting narrower. Apparently the Times hasn’t noticed, but the GOP is riding a wave of electoral success. Thirty-one of 50 governors are now Republican; the GOP now controls 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers; and Republicans hold majorities in both the House and the Senate–in the House, by the biggest margin since 1928. Does this really look like a party whose appeal has narrowed as it has become more “right wing”?
It is the Democrats who are fighting in their last redoubts, mostly urban districts, plus a few outliers like Minnesota. This map shows the partisan breakdown by Congressional districts. It really doesn’t appear that Republicans are on the verge of extinction; on the other hand, if sea level rises, the Democrats could be just about out of business:
The Times editorialists live in their own, special world, where such realities don’t seem to intrude. They continue:
In his announcement speech, Mr. Paul sounded like a nonconformist Republican. He denounced “both parties” for creating “the Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives.” …
If the past is any indicator, to win early nominating contests like the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Paul will have to embrace some of the extreme Republican social positions — for example, on the issues of abortion and marriage.
More delusion. Most Republicans are against legal abortion, most of the time, while most Democrats favor legal abortion, any time. Is the Republican position “extreme”? Of course not. Gallup has been polling on this issue for years. The most straightforward question asked of respondents is whether they are pro-choice or pro-life. Currently, Gallup finds that 47% of Americans describe themselves as pro-choice, while 46% say they are pro-life. That is a tie. Moreover, the trend is flowing in an anti-abortion direction. In 1995, 56% were pro-choice, while 33% were pro-life. On what basis does the Times think the Republican position is “extreme,” but the Democrats’ position isn’t? Other than the fact that they don’t agree with it.
Then there is gay marriage. Here, the trend is flowing in the opposite direction. Gallup’s most recent survey finds 55% saying that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid, while 42% say they should not be. So are the 42% “extreme”? They hold the position that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton articulated until just recently. How extreme can that be?
What is going on here is that the Times editorialists live in such a bubble that they think anyone who disagrees with them can simply be scorned as a social inferior, rather than being argued with. Such an attitude is rarely successful in democratic politics.
Will a libertarian like Mr. Paul offer the mandatory endorsement of a tax subsidy for ethanol produced by corn in the Iowa caucuses?
Well, it’s hardly mandatory. The Times evidently is unaware that Republican presidential contenders including Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry have opposed ethanol subsidies and mandates. And–by the way–where do the Democratic candidates stand on ethanol? Hmmm?
Mr. Paul pulled off a huge upset in his 2010 campaign for Senate — but in the confines of Kentucky. To do so on a national stage would require a character transplant either for himself, or for the Republican Party’s primary-season voters.
If this means that Paul may be out of step with most Republican voters on some issues, most notably national defense, the Times could be right. But the issue is not one of “character,” but of disagreement about what role America should play in the world and what policies will best keep us safe. If the editorialists really want to talk about character, they should address Hillary Clinton’s slush fund, ripe with money from dictatorships around the world. Or her lies about Benghazi, or her private email system that she conveniently deleted. Or her $300,000 a pop speaking fees, which are mostly a way of laundering campaign contributions. Or Bill Clinton’s frequent flyer status on the “Lolita Express.” But of course they won’t do that. They are hopelessly out of touch.