So I sat through 40 minutes of Jay Leno’s the Tonight Show on NBC waiting for Ron Paul to come on. It wasn’t that bad. I actually like Leno the best of all the late night comedians. The show started at 10:41 PM Mountain Time. Thats an hour and seven minutes later than it originally aired. Ron Paul was mentioned three to five times before being introduced by Leno and walking on stage to the tune of a rendition of Amy Allen’s Ron Paul theme song, originally from the 2008 election cycle.
He came in waving at the studio audience (and the television one) and sat down between Kevin Hart (who had the first interview, and who moved over for Doctor Paul) and Jay Leno. There was applause. I don’t know if there were many Paul fans there (there was at least one who would break out with chants of “President Paul, President Paul” from time to time) or if the audience is just supposed to cheer, but it was a warm enough reception.
Down to business. All kidding aside, Leno asked Paul a good dozen or so serious questions, each of which Paul was ready to answer, albeit in his gentile, sometimes broken-sentenced, Texas Congressman/Doctor/Grandfather way.
We were all hoping for some big announcement, though some of us may not actually have been expecting one. So when it came time for Leno to ask him about if he gave any thought to running third party, it was disappointing, but in retrospect, not all that surprising as he had said the same all throughout the campaign, when he answered, “No, not much.” He did mention something about instead taking a rest before firing things back up again in 2016, adding that he was “just kidding.”
Upon prompting, he also stated that he planned on voting but was not going prepared to say for whom. Some are taking this to mean he will not endorse anyone. They may well be right. And that may well be what Ron Paul meant. But I have another take.
Here should be the takeaway; not of what all this does mean, but what it could mean:
By saying he was not going to run third party, that could just refer to running on the top of the presidential ticket. He did not say he wouldn’t run for another office, third party.
By mentioning 2016 it could mean, while he was kidding about running himself, he plans on working towards Rand being the 2016 GOP nominee. This may or may not be contingent on who wins this time: Obama, Romney, or least-likely-but-every-dog-has-his-day Johnson. If Obama wins this time, the GOP establishment will be discredited. If it is not enough to make the Republican Party implode, it might be enough to make it revamp itself by dumping some of RINOs, particularly those heavily invested in the losing ticket, RomneyRyan. If this wouldn’t be Rand’s chance to shine, nothing would.
If Romney does win, something I think will not happen for several reasons, Rand won’t be able to run against him within the GOP without first being branded a traitor and then being absolutely ignored, probably even worse than his father was at the convention. Ron Paul media coverage during the primaries and up until a month or two prior to the Convention will look like doting by comparison. Of course, if Romney’s vision for America turns out to be worse than Obama’s, or better but just not good enough to stem the tide of the inevitable fiscal nightmare scenario, the Democrats and the ignorant amongst the independents will demonize all Republicans and especially those of a more laissez faire persuasion worse than they ever did Bush or Cheney or McCain or Palin (most of whom deserved it). Rand won’t stand a chance. Even if the Perry-Gingrich-Santorum-Bachmann-Cain crowd gets behind him, the establishment will likely have its way and nominate the least laissez faire Republican they can find, potentially RomneyRyan redux. And even if Rand does end up the nominee, the demonization of all things even mildly libertarian will be ever his companion.
And if Johnson wins (I don’t think he can without almost all of Paul’s supporter’s backing, which he may not get without making some concessions), there is no real reason for Rand to run unless he really has turned to the dark side. Not to mention that given this whole analysis of Rand’s chances is rooted in Paul’s mention of mention, and that Johnson can’t win without Paul and his supporters, which if given couldn’t do much good for Rand, the Rand versus Johnson scenario is the least likely of all possible outcomes.
By not saying who he is voting for, he could be genuinely undecided, not even fully aware of all the possibilities, in which case there is still time to petition him and Johnson to collaborate in the form of an endorsement or modified LP ticket. Or he could be stringing people along to give him time to calculate a decision, consciously considering a bold move such as one of the ones promoted on this blog. Alternatively his mind may already be made up, be it to write in himself, vote for Johnson or Virgil Goode, to not vote, or to conspire with the Johnson campaign, but he wants to keep things quiet for now.
I am probably reading too much into all of this, but it is good to know all of the possible scenarios, not just the most immediate or the most obvious.