It’s a game of mistakes

More than anything else, politics is a game of mistakes.  Every candidate makes them, but the one with the least mistakes at the end is often the one that emerges victorious.  Some mistakes are small.  Some mistakes are big.  And being too cautious will get you nowhere, making the chance of a mistake that much greater.  

So far, the early stages of the Republican nomination race has been littered with mistakes.  Most of them big.  Most of them stupid.  Most of them very avoidable.  And it’s created an interesting, dynamic relationship between the candidates that people just can turn away from.  Unfortunately, it’s not that they’re turning away because they intrigued by the calibre of the candidates.  They’re watching debates and interviews and candidate events like motorists watch the accident that’s been keeping them in gridlock for hours.

Every time a new front runner emerges, the large pack of pursuing politicos does everything in their power to destroy that leader.  In the earliest days of the campaign it was Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry emerged, and with an “oops” he fell by the wayside.  Next came a close battle between Gingrich and Romney.  Gingrich was felled by his continuing need to say stupid things, like if you’re gay you should just vote for Obama.  Romney, tried to prove poor people are well off by making a blatantly insensitive $10,000 bet.  And out of the dust emerged Ron Paul.

Paul’s been here before.  He’s a veteran of political campaigns.  For the most part, he has been very cognizant of where the land mines are planted, and he has avoided them.  He has taken advantage of disdain and disgust for the “mainstream media,” and he has kept his mouth shut when it didn’t serve him to talk – always a tough accomplishment for a politician.

And that’s why the mistake of walking out on the CNN interview is so ridiculously stupid.  Now, of all the candidates that could walk out on a CNN interview, Paul is among the most insulated, so it won’t do him the damage that it would do Romney or Gingrich.  At the same time, it loses him a part of the voting public that he needs: rational people.

Ron Paul has already locked up the irrational among the electorate.   That’s not a problem for him.  And he’s a smart enough guy that he could and should be in a position to be taken seriously as a candidate, but he’s not.  Walking out on the CNN interview only makes that worse.

Romney and Gingrich are both taken seriously because as a whole the American electorate loves a used car salesman.  They are the two on the stage that have the confidence, and the audacity to think that they can actually bullshit a bullshitter.  They spew forth empty answers better than any other politician in that field.  And that’s saying something when you consider their company.

Paul is never going to break into that upper echelon on politicians until he learns to bullshit, and use it to roll with the punches.  It’s tough.  Paul is a clearly very passionate politician.  He genuinely believes in what he’s saying, whether it’s behind a lectern at a nationally televised debate, or it’s in a stump speech on the back of a flatbed in Iowa City.  That’s a huge strength.  It also won’t get him elected.

Romney and Gingrich are power politicians because they say everything like they believe it – even when it is complete and utter malarky.  The sky is purple and brown stripes and is made of peanut butter and grape jelly?  Gingrich could say that with a straight face and pass a lie detector.  Why?  Because he doesn’t believe in the power of truth, he believes in the power of the message – no matter how stupid it is.

If Ron Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to get some of that in him.  He’s going to have another chance at it, regardless of walking out on CNN, because this group of candidates just can’t stop making stupid mistakes.