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Weigel: If Ron Paul wins Iowa...

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From Dave Weigel in Slate:

If Paul wins Iowa, that stops. The conservative press, which has been bored but hostile to Paul all year (just see the National Review’s cover story), will remind its readers that Paul wants to legalize prostitution and narcotics, end aid to Israel (as part of a general no-aid-for-anyone policy), and end unconstitutional programs like Medicare and social security. The liberal press will discover that he’s a John Birch Society supporter who for years published lucrative newsletters studded with racist gunk. In 2008, when the media didn’t take him seriously, Paul was able to get past the newsletter story with a soft-gummed Wolf Blitzer interview. (“Certainly didn't sound like the Ron Paul that I've come to know and our viewers have come to know all this time,” said Blitzer.) This was when Paul was on track to lose every primary. It’ll be different if the man wins Iowa.

Maybe all of this would drag Paul down. But would it have to? In 2008, the candidate stuck it out through every primary. In 2012, he’ll have more cash than anyone except Romney or Perry—he just raised $4 million in a weekend moneybomb. His supporters will blow off the scrutiny as just so much crap from the corporate media. (Alex Jones will quibble with this characterization: It’s really the “illuminati” media.) No, Paul will stick in the race. Mitt Romney will get to contrast himself with the new-new-new-new insurgent. In that case, the GOP base and donor class will have the easiest pick-a-door choice it’s ever had. Do you go with the guy from Massachusetts who’s not all that convincing of a Reagan clone, or do you go with the guy who wants legal heroin and a pissed-off Benjamin Netanyahu?

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