For the last few days, the American media and political classes have been debating the fallout from the Ames straw poll: the Iowa ritual that marks the first real hurdle in the Republican nomination race. There was much to say. Michele Bachmann won, cementing her as the Iowa frontrunner. Tim Pawlenty came third and instantly pulled out. Herman Cain’s fifth place burst his bubble. Rick Santorum’s fourth place gave him a lift. Even some who were not taking part – such as Sarah Palin – were endlessly analysed.
But what of Ron Paul, who came second? The Texan congressman, outspoken libertarian and Tea Party idol got a mere 152 votes fewer than Bachmann. Where was the analysis of his campaign chances or – better still – a debate over his policy positions.
As usual, Paul was mostly ignored. The Washington Times declared him a “loser” even as it said Santorum, with 3,014 fewer votes than Paul, was a “winner”. The blanking given to Paul was best summed up by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, who showed news anchors and analysts laughing at Paul and treating him like a geek in high school being teased by jocks.