No, Ron Paul 2012 Is Not Like Barack Obama 2008

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Andrew Sullivan responds to my post this morning about Ron Paul here, but he still doesn’t explain why there’s anything wrong with a journalist explaining—accurately, I think—how the Republican establishment would view a Ron Paul victory in Iowa. Answer: They’d consider it a freak accident and blow it off. That’s what Chris Wallace said, and it’s the kind of analysis that political reporters engage in all the time. It seems entirely nonremarkable to me.

But forget that. What I’m really curious about is this throwaway sentence:

I might add that up to this point in the last cycle, exactly the same things were said about Barack Obama.

At least, I’d normally think of it as a throwaway sentence except that he said the exact same thing yesterday:

I feel the same way about [Ron Paul] on the right in 2012 as I did about Obama in 2008. Both were regarded as having zero chance of being elected.

Who’s crazy here, Sullivan or me? I know I have an unusually sucky memory, but “this point in the last cycle” would be December 15, 2007. And no question about it: Hillary Clinton was considered the front-runner and enjoyed a sizable poll lead. But was Obama really not taken seriously? Considered a fringe candidate? Given zero chance of winning? Hated by the Democratic establishment? That’s sure not what I remember. I remember an extremely robust primary contest practically from Day 1, with plenty of support for both candidates from both the grassroots and the establishment. Nobody wrote Obama off, nobody claimed an Iowa victory would be meaningless, and nobody treated him as a vanity candidate. Nobody.

Am I missing something here?

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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