Manufactured Drama

In one of what will be many efforts to manufacture some drama for the heavily-scripted limited-coverage TV show avec fundraiser called the Republican National Convention, check out this BuzzFlash headline: “Romney Campaign Radically Changes GOP Nominating Process After Ron Paul Takeovers.” The subtitle’s even better: “Paul Allies Freak Out.”

The actual story by Zeke Miller explains the “radical changes” as follows:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, led by top Romney lawyer Ben Ginsberg, forced through a major change the GOP nominating process on Friday in response to Ron Paul supporters’ efforts to win delegates to the Republican National Committee [sic].

The Republican National Convention Committee voted 56-40 to make it impossible for supporters of one presidential candidate to override the will of voters at a state convention, as Ron Paul supporters did in Iowa and Nevada.

The purpose of the change, Ginsberg said, was “to correct what we saw as a damaging flaw in the presidential election process in 2012.”

The rule forces statewide presidential primaries or caucuses to determine the ultimate allocation of delegates, preventing takeovers like Paul executed in Iowa by eliminating unbound delegates in statewide contests. States would be allowed to decide whether to give all their delegates to the winner of the primary or caucus, or distribute them proportionally according to the results.

“Iowa will have to change the way they do it,” said a GOP official.

Wow. That’s pretty radical all right. Just imagine: delegates have to vote according to the will of caucus and primary-goers, and have to vote for the candidate they are pledged to support. I believe the Democrats placed similar rules into effect a couple of decades ago, if not earlier, and the basic idea of binding delegates is about as new and revolutionary as Disco.

Miller quotes a couple of Paulites as grumbling about the changes, and even suggesting they might vote Libertarian in November to protest the implied “attack on their behavior” earlier this year. I really don’t know why they care, since Ron Paul is by all accounts hanging it up after this convention, and Rand, if he runs for president, will presumably run a more conventional campaign. Maybe some of these delegates just want to make a career out of Leninist-style takeovers of underattended meetings. But I’d be amazed if the Romney folk hadn’t made this change. Why tromp around Iowa for a year selling your soul to conservative activists only to watch your hard-earned delegate spots get swiped by pirates months later? And at this point, after giving the Paulites some of their pet policy planks, a nice video tribute to The Leader, and a speaking spot for The Heir, who cares if they “freak out?”

Actually, if I were a Paulite, I might have insisted a little less on retroactive validation of my room-packing skills and a little more on some modification of what will probably be foreign policy planks and speeches frothing for war with Iran and shrieking about Shariah Law. But then I hardly understand what makes these folks tick to begin with, other than too much time buying gold coins and reading Ayn Rand.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.