Why Ron Paul Never Fit in on Capitol Hill
Reality Check (Jan. 3, 2013)
This evening, Ron Paul will no longer be a member of Congress.
It has happened before. At the end of this day in January 1977 he was no longer a member of Congress. He had lost by 268 votes out of over 180,000. At the end of this day in 1985, he was no longer a member of Congress. He had resigned to run for the Senate. He did not get the nomination.
Twice he came back. There will not be a third time. He has other fish to catch.
I was on his staff in 1976. I saw Congress close-up. Once was enough. I explained why in 1977: "Confessions of a Washington Reject."
Ron Paul never fit in on Capitol Hill. There are reasons for this. Four reasons.
THE BIG FOUR
The ruling triumvirate on Capitol Hill are the same as in every other political capital in history: money, sex, and power. But there is one more: booze.
The problem is, these four are almost universal in their appeal. In what way is Congress different?
Because power is the biggie. If you get power, you can get the others.
The phrase "money, sex, and power" reflects a commercial sequence, not political. It is more Wall Street than Capitol Hill.
I searched Google for "money, sex, and power" as a unit. How many hits do you think I got? Guess. Go on: guess. To find out, click here.
Amazing, no? The phrase is universal, because the lusts are universal. They are a package deal on Capitol Hill more than anywhere on earth.
I searched for "power, sex, and money." That's Capitol Hill. The hits were 88% smaller.
But here's the deal: booze is #4 on both Wall Street and Capitol Hill.
In 1989, former Senator John Tower was nominated by President Bush as Secretary of Defense. Paul Weyrich of the conservative Free Congress Foundation vocally opposed this. Why? Because Tower was a heavy drinker and a serial adulterer. Everyone in town knew it. No one was supposed to say it in public. Weyrich became hated for this stand. But the Senate eventually refused to confirm his nomination, 53 to 47, on close to a straight party vote. It was the first time in U.S. history that an incoming new President had seen his initial nomination rejected. In his autobiography published a year later, Tower quoted Senator Barry Goldwater: "If they had chased every man or woman out of this town who had shacked up with somebody else or gotten drunk, there'd be no government." He was telling the truth.
Then why booze? If you have money, sex, and power, why do you want booze? If you have scored big on the Big Three, why do you crave the fourth?
Here we get to the heart of the political matter. Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. A lot of women are attracted to it.
I grew up among the most beautiful women on earth: the Southern California beach scene. I lived two blocks from the sand. The best-looking women in the region got on bathing suits and headed for the beaches on the weekends. Unattractive women tended not to do this. The curves on the beach are not bell-shaped. It was not until I worked on Capitol Hill that I saw that many good looking women in one place. They weren't there for the sunshine.
Congressmen have made it to the top in the realm of power. It does not satisfy. They can hire good looking women. They can meet good looking women. They cannot help but meet good looking women. The Seduction of Joe Tynan is a movie on this. Maybe they are not rich, but they can get rich at any time by quitting and becoming lobbyists. They live as though they are rich. They have entourages of young people following them.
And they drink.
Something is missing in their lives that money, sex, and power cannot fill. Yet if the Big Three don't work, they wind up singing along with Peggy Lee to "Is That All There Is?" Musically, it's not much of a song. The message is unforgettable.
Those of us who are content to live outside the Washington Beltway find it difficult to connect with those on Capitol Hill. The longer they stay there, the more difficult it is. And I think it works both ways. They do not want to leave.
RON PAUL, OUTSIDER
Ron Paul never had any power. His ideology guaranteed that he would not get any. He never did.
He had left a career that pays well: obstetrics. He did not go there for money. He did not even sign up for a Congressional pension.
He was happily married.
I never saw him take a drink.
He could not be seduced by Washington.
When I was there, I was in the back office with Dr. John Robbins and a middle-aged secretary. I did not go to the front office often. I only recall one pretty girl on the staff. Maybe there were others. I don't recall. I think her name was Teresa. She was memorable. She did not like ice cream. I have never met anyone else who did not like ice cream. I have never even heard of anyone who did not like ice cream.
His staff was not a hotbed of scandal.
He did not even have an Administrative Assistant in his first six-month term. He appointed his own staff. That made his staff unique on Capitol Hill.
It is tough to buy someone if he doesn't want anything you have for sale.
How would you blackmail a person whose main deviation was in hiring a good looking girl who does not like ice cream? Or hiring a pair of Calvinist academics who were at loggerheads over VanTilian vs. Clarkian apologetics?
Word spread. He voted "no" all the time. He soon became known as "Dr. No." If the media had known that I was on his staff, I might have become known as "Dr. No's Dr. No." But such was not to be, by 135 votes.
WHAT WAS IN IT FOR HIM?
He stayed to take a stand. He wanted to get his message to a larger audience: the message of limited civil government, which included sound money and a peaceful foreign policy.
He represented the folks back home, in two separate districts: first one, then the other. He became their spokesman. There always has to be a spokesman.
As time went on, he became a spokesman for voters outside his district. By the end, he was a spokesman for voters outside the country.
I cannot think of any Congressman in history who achieved anything like this.
A lot of people come to Washington to take a stand, battle for a cause, and make a difference. But the Big Four sidetrack a lot of people. Those who are not tempted by these face that other sidetrack: frustration.
He came into Washington knowing that he would not persuade Congress. So, frustration was not a problem.
He saw a bully pulpit, and he used it.
He never preached to the choir in Congress. But he preached to the choir outside the Beltway. It just kept getting bigger. Huge.
The "money bomb" of December 2007 revealed just how many people were in his choir. He had not even organized it. Washington finally took notice. He had proven to be a master of one of the Big Four: money. Money talks in Washington. The loudest-talking money is campaign fund money.
Washington asked: "How did this happen?" They never figured it out. They never read Albert J. Nock's 1936 essay, "Isaiah's Job." Even if they had, they would not have understood.
What is the lesson of his career? This: "Stick to your knitting."
Anything else? This. "Never give an inch."
Is that all there is? Not at all. There is also this: "Walk the talk."
Are these bipartisan principles? No. Nonpartisan. No political party has ever adopted them.