The American ConservativeRon Paul is easy to overlook.Thu Jun 28, 2007 13:02
June 18, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2007 The American Conservative
Maverick Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul finds that being right
is the one thing his party won't forgive.
by Michael Brendan Dougherty
At first glance, he looks like every other congressman in the Canon
Building. His suit is dark. His tie is striped. He is convivial with his
colleagues, who genuinely like him. But there is something different about
You can hear congressmen when they walk down the hall, strutting their own
importance. After all, there are regulations to be implemented, special
interests to serve, a teetering American Empire that would collapse without
their management. They wear black or cordovan leather shoes-captoes,
wingtips, and brogues-clacking down the hall, their bellies full of
medium-rare steak from Capital Grille. They are surrounded by ambitious
interns and legislative aides. They fiddle with their BlackBerries. You can't
miss them tromping out of the elevators.
Ron Paul is easy to overlook. He takes the stairs; he does not have an
entourage. You can't hear him coming because he's wearing plain black tennis
shoes. In a bag he carries a can of soup that he will heat for himself in
the microwave in his office. Beneath pictures of Austrian economists
Frederick Von Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, he will eat his lunch alone and in
What is the purpose of Ron Paul's candidacy for the presidency of the United
States? Some longshots run because their egos demand it. Others want to
raise their lecture fees. Some run because they have plenty of money and
nothing better to do. Following a flood of viewer requests, the Texas
congressman recently appeared on Fox News to explain himself. His answer was
buoyant though laconic: "I want to be president because I have this dream. I'd
like to reinstate the Constitution and restore the Republic." His answer was
Paul's doggedness in advancing the causes of individual responsibility and
limited government could intimidate almost anyone who clings to the label
"conservative" or "libertarian." Perhaps that is why he avoids those abused
designations and calls himself a "constitutionalist." His philosophy is
simple: "no government intervention, not in personal life, not in economic
life, not in affairs of other nations."
Naturally he opposes almost everything Congress does. The physician cum
congressman earned the nickname "Dr. No" early on. His opposition to what he
considers unconstitutional spending even earned the grudging respect of GOP
leaders. When Newt Gingrich cracked the whip on party members to support a
messy budget compromise, he excused Paul from the duty to support the
budget, and the "Ron Paul exemption" entered the congressional vocabulary.
What did it take for other members to earn this privilege to buck the party?
A voting record that opposed all unnecessary federal spending, even in their
home district. No one else has been granted the exemption.
When Paul does propose legislation, it is simple, direct, and radical. He's
compiled an impressive list of bills that remain ignored to this day.
H.R.1146 : To end membership of the United States in the United Nations.
H.R.776: To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from
conception. H.R.1658: To ensure that the courts interpret the Constitution
in the manner that the Framers intended.
His cheerful consistency doesn't end there. Paul not only votes against
nearly all government spending, he has refused to be the beneficiary of it
as well. As a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, he has
delivered over 4,000 babies. He accepted no money from Medicare or Medicaid,
often working for free for needy patients. With his support, his five
children finished school without subsidized federal student loans. He has
refused a congressional pension.
Monetary policy is the issue that brought Paul into politics in the '70s.
Having read deeply in the Austrian school of economics, he was incensed at
Nixon for going off the gold standard and ran in a special House election in
the 22nd district of Texas.
It still preoccupies him. Paul gave a thrill to surviving goldbugs in the
first GOP debate this year when he referred to "sound money." Since
bimetallism and William Jennings Bryan shuffled off the political stage,
widespread passion about monetary policy has been in short supply. But for
Paul, the issue is still one that pits the people against the Beltway: "I
think it's very convenient for them [politicians] not to worry about
it-whether they are spending money they don't have for a war, whether you
are liberal and like big welfare or a neoconservative and you like
entitlements. They know somehow or another if the taxes come up short, there
is a system, of course they know we borrow it and they complain about that,
but I complain about the printing to pick up the shortfall. It's such a
This is what he refers to as the "inflation tax." With a paper currency,
Paul says, "You get too many bubbles. And people suffer. Whether it's the
NASDAQ bubble or the housing bubble. It's also the reason people are poor. .
There is this transfer of wealth from the poor to the middle class to the
very wealthy. And it leads to conflict. There are lots of people in this
country who haven't had an increase in real wages in 30 years. The
Republicans deny it. And the Democrats say, 'Well we need more taxes on
those who have too much.' They tax productivity to give it to others. I
would not immediately close the doors on the Federal Reserve. But the doors
may get closed if there is a monetary crisis. There are no paper currencies
that last for a long period of time."
While he lost his first re-election to a Democrat, Paul came back to win in
a 1978 rematch, then won again in 1980 and '82. He later lost a 1984 Senate
GOP primary to Phil Gramm. Not wanting to be a lifelong politician, he
returned to the practice of medicine full time. Tom DeLay won his seat.
Paul ran as the Libertarian candidate for president in 1988, "just to talk
to about the issues" in his own recounting. He drew a meager 0.47 percent of
the vote but found an enthusiastic following.
In 1995, he decided to run for the 14th Congressional district, which had
been redrawn to include his home in Lake Jackson. His opponent, Greg
Laughlin, despite being a recent Republican convert, received the support of
the party establishment, including then Gov. George W. Bush. Paul's return
to congressional politics was based on the results of the '94 Republican
Revolution: "I thought, 'Maybe they are serious and they will shrink the
size of big government.'" Paul sighs recalling that burst of optimism, "but
there was no truth to that."
His second go-around in the capital focused on many of the same issues that
animated his first tour. His principles never changed, though some of his
libertarian supporters have been dismayed by his stands on trade deals and
While Paul considers himself a staunch free trader, he opposed CAFTA and
deplored its predecessor, NAFTA. Paul explains, "I was on the side of the
protectionists, and I'm not a protectionist. It's not true free trade. It's
special-interest trade. It's managed trade. . I didn't like the trade deal
because it was another level of government and a loss of sovereignty."
On immigration, Paul finds himself on the side of restrictionists. On
LewRockwell.com, Paul outlined a six-step approach: 1) Physically secure the
border. 2) Enforce current visa laws. 3) Reject amnesty. 4) End welfare
state incentives to immigrants. 5) End birthright citizenship. 6)
Standardize legal immigration rules and waiting periods. When questioned by
Reason about what he'd say to libertarians who disagree with him, Paul was
brusque: "If they don't agree, they'd have to be anarchists, and I'm not. -
I do believe in a responsibility to protect our borders, rather than
worrying about the border between North and South Korea or Iraq and Syria,
and I think that's a reasonable position."
Increasingly, foreign intervention has come to dominate the political
discourse. "I had concentrated on monetary policy," Paul said. "Over the
years I've learned to tie that in with the war policy. You can't fight wars
without inflation. You never have a war without inflation. . The '70s were
hectic times. We had 15 percent inflation, interest rates went to 21
percent, we had the highest unemployment since the Depression. It came as a
consequence of the philosophy of guns and butter. And of course the same
thing exists today, except one thing is a lot worse: there are many more
dollars circulating around the world, and we've lost our manufacturing
Paul believes the Republican Party lost its way by not remaining the peace
party. Recently, when speaking to a group of skeptical conservative
journalists, he pointed out in his grandfatherly tone, "In 1952, Eisenhower
ran as a peace candidate. In 1968, Nixon ran on obtaining peace with honor."
Paul also mentions that Bush won, in part, by touting a "humble foreign
policy." Even warmongers won elections that way: "Wilson ran on peace. FDR,
When he is inevitably asked if he is running in the right party, Paul states
plainly, "I don't think the Democrats have any intention to change our
policies in the Middle East. I want the antiwar position to be traditional,
conservative, and constitutional and not only for the far Left. I don't
object to the Left being opposed to the war. But that Michael Moore image is
not going to persuade housewives. I think a lot of Republicans have
forgotten their traditional position of being antiwar."
Making the antiwar message broadly appealing may be difficult for Paul
because of his temperament. The exchange between Paul and Rudy Giuliani in
the South Carolina debate raised Paul's profile nationally but was thought
to have been the moment when Giuliani won the debate. After Paul explained
that terrorists attack the U.S. not because they hate our freedoms but
because they hate our policies, Giuliani rephrased his answer to suggest
Paul thought America "invited" the attacks. He said he'd never heard such an
idea and declared it "absurd." Paul didn't back down, but he gave a
technical response about "blowback" that, while correct, didn't connect with
the audience emotionally. He was hit hard, and while he didn't drop to the
mat, he didn't hit back.
At a press conference later, Paul presented a list of books to inform
Giuliani that, indeed, policies do have consequences. On the list were the
9/11 Commission Report, Blowback by Chalmers Johnson, and Dying to Win by
Robert Pape. Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit and
author of Imperial Hubris appeared alongside Paul. The press conference
underscored both the strength and weakness of Paul's personality as a
candidate: his professorial approach makes it difficult to dismiss his views
as "loony," but the academic style doesn't motivate people to rally to him.
His manner is always refreshing but rarely stirring.
When asked how he would confront his opponents' charges, Paul's answers are
as straight and flat as a Texas highway. "The media would love it if you got
real, real personal. But I just have trouble drifting from the issue
itself. . I'm challenging them to think about policy. Nobody, liberals or
conservatives, Republicans or Democrats wants to challenge overall Middle
East policy. It is sacred. There's oil. There's the neocon idea of spreading
democracy. There's Israel. You just shouldn't dare challenge our eternal
presence in the Middle East. So they attack the messenger in a personal
When asked if any Republican constituents who had initially supported the
war have thanked him for his foresight, he shrugs and says, "Some, but not
too many. Someone told me once: 'They never forgive you for being right.
They'll always forgive you for being wrong if you apologize.'"
Paul understands that electing him president wouldn't by itself "reinstate
the Constitution and restore the Republic." He is a realist: "You just can't
turn one switch and solve every problem. You have to build coalitions. I'd
put a lot of pressure on Congress to live up to their responsibilities." He
does know what he can do on day one of the Paul presidency. His first act
would be to begin cleaning up the mess we've made in the Middle East: "What
you could do in ten minutes to send a signal to the world that things were
going to be different is tell the Navy to turn around and leave the shores
of Iraq. We have two aircraft carriers there, another arriving, and seven
ships that just moved into the Persian Gulf. I would just tell them to turn
around and leave. Tell the region that this isn't my approach, and I'm
willing to talk. I think that would immediately raise our standing in the
It's a vision that will inevitably be ridiculed as naïve by the imperial
intelligentsia who helped American into this mess. But it's also so noble in
its simplicity that it is already causing Americans who are tired of the
warfare state to look at this mild-mannered physician and see the politician
they've always wanted: a man of unbending conviction, of proven fidelity to
a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
After his latest debate appearance, Ron Paul's name leapt ahead of Paris
Hilton in Google searches. Bill Maher, who had given him a tough time weeks
earlier on his HBO show "Real Time," became desperate to invite him back for
this season's finale, declaring "he's my hero."
Grover Norquist has said of the good doctor that in Congress "one Ron Paul
is grand; and 218 Ron Pauls would be even grander; but 20 Ron Pauls could
cripple the party since the usual half-steps toward less government and less
taxation might not find support among the more ideologically rigorous."
Fanatics, dreamers, and constitutionalists long for the day when hundreds of
Ron Pauls disinterestedly discuss monetary policy and the philosophy of the
founders each morning between the trees that line New Jersey and
Independence Avenues. In the afternoon, they can go into the Capitol and
maintain the Republic by leaving most of us alone. On weekends, they can fly
home. We'll even let them wear comfortable shoes if they want.
But until the day when scores of Ron Pauls overrun the Capitol Building in
sneakers, we have one man who heats his own soup and fights for the
Republic, not the Empire. If America elects him president, he'll sit atop a
bucking federal beast that withstood the taming of convinced
small-government riders like Ronald Reagan and Calvin Coolidge. It would be
a wild ride for the thin, unassuming Texan. He might never forgive us for
putting him in the saddle.
June 18, 2007 Issue
SEE MANY RON PAUL VIDEO....
----- Original Message ----- From:
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2007 10:05 AM
Subject: Listen to Ron Paul on the Peter Boyles show
> On Wednesday, June 27, Dr. Ron Paul was interviewed by Denver talk show host
> Peter Boyles from 8:00 am to 8:30 am.
> You can listen to the Podcast of the interview on your computer.
> Peter Boyles Podcasts
> Look for June 27, 2007 8:00am
> Peter and Presidential hopeful Congressman Ron Paul talk about current issues
> from Iraq to immigration
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