By the time the Bush Administration is done, the Paul campaign may be swimming in military money.
by Tom EngleHart
While US commanders in Iraq are deep into planning post-surge surges well into next spring, a couple of straws in the military wind indicate that support for them, not just in civilian America but in military America, may be on the wane.
Recently, Military.com, a large insider website directed at the military and veteran communities, polled its readers on when US troops should withdraw from Iraq and the results proved a surprise: "Nearly 60 percent of readers who participated... said the United States should withdraw its troops from Iraq now or by the end of 2008. More than 40 percent of the respondents agreed the pullout should begin immediately because 'we're wasting lives and resources there.'" (A minority 41 percent voted to fight on "until the insurgency is totally defeated.") This was, of course, a self-selecting vote of 5,440 Military.com readers, but no less startling for that.
Add in another modest set of recent figures and perhaps you have a hint of a shift in the sentiments of a military that has, in the last decades, been increasingly supportive of the Republican Party and an imperial foreign policy. Recently, the Federal Election Commission released its July quarterly figures on contributions to presidential candidates--and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas modestly made the news because the libertarian candidate managed to pull in more money than that military icon (and war supporter) Senator John McCain for the quarter and so slipped into third place in the Republican presidential dollars sweepstakes. Since Paul garners but 2 to 3 percent of the vote in recent presidential opinion polls (up from 1 percent earlier in the year), this was certainly striking in itself--an effect perhaps of his exposure in the ongoing presidential TV debates where he manages, on Iraq among other subjects, to sound like neither a Republican Tweedledum, nor Tweedledee.
A New York Times analysis piece by Jeff Zeleny, for instance, commented:
The only Republican in the race who opposes the war, Representative Ron Paul of Texas, has drawn a relative bounty of donations in response and now has more money to spend than the onetime presumed front-runner for the nomination...,