Last week, “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart called 2012 presidential candidate and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) the “13th floor in a hotel,” regarding how the politician has been ignored in the media.
Across the Internet, small news-sites, blogs and unofficial support sites have accused CNN of obscuring and altering the results of online viewer polls about who won the Ames, Iowa debate. CNN instead used information from the National Journal, which initially showed Paul with 0 percent. Interestingly, Ron Paul’s official webpage makes no note of the controversy.
Subsequent polls have consistently put Paul in the top candidates for the Republican primary. A new Gallup poll released Wednesday shows Paul in third place, behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Nonetheless, they do not explain the previous reticence of the media to notice Paul’s existence.
Paul is a medical doctor turned congressman from Texas who is well known for his anti-war and anti-big government political stances, according to his website. He was first elected in 1976, and represents many core Tea Party values since before the Tea Party existed. Paul may be a conservative, but he still maintains his own character and has run on the Libertarian ticket in the past.
He seems an ideal focus for media coverage – he is experienced, witty and controversial in his political views, as well as possessing a loyal voter base. What differences about Paul warrant the media ignoring him?
How is Paul different from other Republican candidates? He has a strong anti-war policy, which he expounded on during the Fox News-moderated debate. During passionate speeches, such as his against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the audience cheered wildly, while debate moderator Brett Baier laughed his answers off and even suggested Perry “outsmarted” him.
The derision did not stop there. Mike Wallace said to Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), “Ron Paul says terrorism suspects have committed a crime and should be given due process in civilian courts. Please tell Congressman Paul why he is wrong.”
Paul is also passionate about ending the War on Drugs by legalizing soft and hard drugs – from cannabis to cocaine to heroin. None of the other candidates share this view in their political platform.
Paul was the only candidate at the debate who supported eliminating the Federal Reserve at the debate, but since then, both Perry and Bachmann have adopted this stance, according to Reuters. He has been advocating “sound money” policies since the ’70s, such as proposing a bill to remove the sales tax on gold and silver to let market forces decide what is the best money, instead of relying entirely on Federal Reserve notes for currency.
So why has Paul been ignored? The answer is not clear, but the best guess is that, until recently, America has not taken Paul seriously. He has been continually portrayed as an eccentric, but now that his views have been co-opted by the Tea Party, people are beginning to realize that Ron Paul may not be the “13th floor in a hotel,” but rather the “elephant in the room.”
Nicholas Milstrey is a graduate student majoring in economics.