Skull & Bones-affiliated establishment journalist Dana Milbank1 recently taunted Republican Congressman Ron Paul about the termination of his popular “End the Fed” campaign in a piece entitled, “Ron Paul Fed Up With Trying To End The Fed.”2
Well, I have plenty of problems with the Ron Paul movement these days, even though his supporters are more optimistic (for instance, see this3 ), but the Milbank piece does more than criticize Paul.
What it does is gloat.
Here are some lines from it, with my parsing underneath:
“He didn’t even make a dent in it.”
[LR: The Fed is unassailable]
“… Paul raised the white flag.”
[LR: The Fed has won…]
“For the fiery Paul, it was a subdued surrender.”
[LR: So now you know how powerful we really are, old man.]
“….treating him with the cautious affection one might use to address a crazy uncle.”
[LR: You didn’t reach the point where we’d have to assassinate you, so we’ll just let people know that you and your supporters can’t be taken seriously.]
“But Paul faded away with surprising deference.”
[LR: Yes. He’s under our thumb. We call the shots. He knows what’s good for him, so he’s fading away.]
“The one substantial challenge to Bernanke — Paul’s “audit the Fed” bill, which the House is expected to approve next week before it dies in the Senate — was easily dispatched by the Fed chairman,”
[LR: Audit the Fed is croaking.]
“The Paul to Bernanke word ratio this time was 12 to 1.”
[LR: He’s just a rambling old man. Real men don’t talk, they print.]
“There’s no constitutional reason why Congress couldn’t just take over monetary policy,” he said. “But I’m advising you that it wouldn’t be very good from an economic policy point of view.”
[LR: We’re the constitutionalists, not you. Audit the Fed is only about Congress taking over monetary policy, folks. Imagine! They can’t run a post office. How do you think they’re going to do with deep stuff like economics?]
“At this point, the committee chairman cut him off. Paul’s time had expired.”
[LR: We’ve put up with you long enough, grandpa. Your time’s up. The game is over.]
The framing of the whole piece is quite masterful.
Instead, we get information about rules and procedures — how bills go through the house and how speakers get to speak.
But not how — or why — bankers get to print at will.
The omission is intentional. A contrast is set up deliberately.
On one hand you have the grave, measured proceedings of the state and the constitution, which Milbank cites on behalf of Bernanke. On the other hand, you have the self-indulgent rambling of an aging politician.
The expected roles are reversed.
Paul becomes the political class. Bernanke becomes the embodiment of the constitution and of law.
From beginning to end we’re told how to think about the face-off between the two.
We’re supposed to think —
Bernanke is sage, powerful, august, and yet indulgent.
Paul is a crazy old man, who doesn’t know too much about civility… or the constitution.
He’s an anti-government politician, but he’s for the government control of the money supply.
He cuts into other people’s time. He rambles on. He talks too much.
Paul is just a “supplicant” before the great Fed chairman. The final word is with the Fed.
He gets his fifteen minutes, but he doesn’t understand the constitution or money.
Notice how the piece distorts Paul’s position to make it look like as if “Audit the Fed” (Paul’s fall-back position from “End the Fed”) is about putting arcane and complex professional matters into the hands of politicians.
Milbank turns Bernanke into the “private” expert and Paul into the bumbling government man.
That is sure to appeal to Americans of every political stripe. The average reader would instinctively tend to distrust anyone who plans to subject polices touching on the country’s money-supply to legislators driven by partisan bias.
What that media framing does is abundantly obvious
It turns the whole conservative limited government argument against limited government activists.
It also turns the pro-constitution argument against constitutionalists.
The Washington Post piece is propaganda of the highest order.
- “Yale Bones connect Bush, Kerry,” Lloyd Grove and Elisa Lipsky-Karasz, New York Daily News, March 2004. [↩]
- Washington Post, July 18, 2012). [↩]
- “The Untouchables,” Gary North, Lew Rockwell, July 21, 2012. [↩]
- End the Fed, Ron Paul, Grand Central Publishing, September 16, 2009. [↩]
- Downloaded on July 21, 2012. [↩]