New York Times resident compassionate conservative David Brooks can be quite clever in how he creates mental linkages for his audience.  His recent article on his travels observing the candidates in the South Carolina takes no prisoners when it comes to Ron Paul.  He reports speaking to “a pawnshop manager who supports Ron Paul and said he has clients who buy a new gun every time the government does something they don’t like.”  Two unrelated observations are linked to demonstrate that Ron Paul is supported by “gun nuts.”

He then goes on to assert that “Ron Paul’s supporters are so grateful. The world was once confusing, but then they read ‘End the Fed’ and the scales fell from their eyes. Paul himself is fascinating because as some smart person observed (I’ve forgotten who), he thinks serially, not causally. The income tax happened and the Patriot Act happened and the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, bailed out the banks and job growth stinks. Paul doesn’t bother with logical links. He just strings events together and assumes causation.”

The straw man “smart person” is no doubt Brooks himself and he makes a claim that is unsupportable.  I doubt if Brooks actually has stopped to listen to Paul very often.  Paul does frequently present facts serially when he speaks, but they are generally connected, as when he is discussing the economy or foreign policy.

The Brooks contrivance is to make Paul appear to be a candidate supported by kooks and the unenlightened whose own thoughts are disordered and illogical.  Paul is in fact supported by many who are tired of the Washington status quo, of which Brooks is a component.   Many Paulistas are both articulate and well informed on the issues, certainly more so than most of the followers of the other candidates.  Paul himself presents a consistent and coherent philosophy of government and foreign policy that is anathema to Brooks, so it is not surprising that he tries to marginalize him.