As Ron Paul has risen in the polls, so has the frequency of attacks against him. “Any stick will do to beat a dog” goes the old saying, and the whacks against Paul range from reasonable to ridiculous. Expect the attacks to continue. Expect them to get more ridiculous.
And expect the worst attacks to come from Republicans.
Let’s cut the crap. The GOP establishment’s main beef with Ron Paul is his foreign policy. This ideological chasm is the subtext to most attacks on Paul from the right. To their credit, some of Paul’s critics are man (or woman) enough to confront the congressman on this subject directly. Paul welcomes these challenges and wants his fellow Republicans to debate what a true conservative foreign policy should look like. But the members of the Republican establishment do not want any such discussion. In fact, they fear it.
Most of the 2012 Republican presidential contenders subscribe primarily to a neoconservative foreign policy — the reflexively pro-war, world-police dogma that has been the dominant view in the Republican Party for at least a decade. When Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was asked by David Gregory on “Meet the Press” in October, “Would you describe yourself as a neoconservative then?” Cain replied: “I’m not sure what you mean by neoconservative … I’m not familiar with the neoconservative movement.” Cain was being honest — he simply knew how most Republicans viewed foreign policy and generally agreed with them. What was this “neoconservatism” Gregory spoke of? Said Cain: “I’m a conservative, yes. Neoconservative — labels sometimes put you in a box.”
“Neoconservative” certainly is a label that puts you in a box. The prefix alone invites curiosity (which is why neoconservatives don’t like it) and the term itself suggests that it represents something different from plain old conservatism (which is why neoconservatives really don’t like it). Neoconservative Max Boot outlined the ideology in 2002: “Neoconservatives believe in using American might to promote American ideals abroad … [The] agenda is known as ‘neoconservatism,’ though a more accurate term might be ‘hard Wilsonianism’ …” Of President Bush’s “hard Wilsonianism,” columnist George Will and National Review founder William F. Buckley said the following during an exchange in 2005:
WILL: Today, we have a very different kind of foreign policy. It’s called Wilsonian. And the premise of the Bush doctrine is that America must spread democracy, because our national security depends upon it. And America can spread democracy. It knows how. It can engage in national building. This is conservative or not?
BUCKLEY: It’s not at all conservative. It’s anything but conservative …
National Rifle Association President David Keene made a distinction between what he saw as Ronald Reagan’s more traditionally conservative foreign policy and the neoconservatives’ comparative extremism:
Reagan resorted to military force far less often than many of those who came before him or who have since occupied the Oval Office. … After the  assault on the Marine barracks in Lebanon, it was questioning the wisdom of U.S. involvement that led Reagan to withdraw our troops rather than dig in. He found no good strategic reason to give our regional enemies inviting U.S. targets.
Keene then asked: “Can one imagine one of today’s neoconservative absolutists backing away from any fight anywhere?”