Katha Pollitt of The Nation and Glenn Greenwald of Salon appeared on Bloggingheads TV to debate the merits of Ron Paul’s candidacy.
The premise of the segment was that Pollitt and Greenwald represent two warring camps of progressives. It rapidly became clear that they agree about nearly everything. They agree that Ron Paul is right about the drug war and U.S. imperialism, and shockingly bad on every other issue, from abortion rights to the welfare state to civil rights enforcement. Neither of them supports Ron Paul for president.
The real difference between Greenwald and Pollitt comes down to this: Is it good for the progressive movement to have someone–anyone–making the case against imperialist wars and the drug war on the national stage?
Greenwald’s very clear that he’s not trying to get Paul elected. He wants to preserve whatever stature Paul has left because he thinks that Paul’s presence in the debate is a good thing overall.
Paul is the closest thing to a standard bearer that anti-imperialists have on the national stage. That’s worth something, but only so long as people think that Paul is a serious person whose opinion matters. The more we learn about the racist, conspiracy-mongering newsletters that made him rich, coupled with his draconian policy stances on abortion and the welfare state, the harder it is to maintain that fiction.
Let’s say there’s a guy on a milk crate outside the subway station who opposes imperialist wars and the drug war, but he also gets worked up about the One World Government and rants about an alleged gay/federal AIDS conspiracy.
He’s right about a few things but that doesn’t qualify him to influence the national debate. I don’t walk by and think, “Way to go, man. At least somebody’s making the case against the DEA.” On the contrary, it’s kind of embarassing. I don’t want people to associate my cherished positions on civil liberties with this manic street preacher.
That’s basically how Pollitt, and I, feel about Ron Paul’s candidacy.