Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Mysterious Appeal of Ron Paul

Looks like after his appearance on the Tonight Show he actually managed to get a little overdue MSM coverage from Time magazine.

The leader of the disaffected in next year's presidential election — the Howard Dean, the Ross Perot, the Pat Buchanan — is a kindly great-grandfather and obstetrician whose passion is monetary policy. Paul, a 72-year-old hard-core libertarian Republican Congressman who is against foreign intervention, subsidies and the federal income tax, is not only drawing impressive crowds (more than 2,000 at a post-debate rally at the University of Michigan last month) but also raising tons of cash. In the third quarter of 2007, Paul took in $5.3 million (just slightly less than G.O.P. rival John McCain), mostly in small, individual donations. On Oct. 22, he aired his first TV ads, $1.1 million worth in New Hampshire.

The numbers are even more impressive considering that as of early October, 72% of G.O.P. voters told Gallup pollsters they didn't know enough about Paul to form an opinion. He has been able to attract followers in the debates, where he's presented a clear, simple philosophy of personal freedom and responsibility. He bluntly refers to the U.S. as an empire. And the nerdiness lends Paul's simple message an aura of credibility, especially on a stage with more polished politicians and their nuanced positions. "He's about something that American nerd culture can get on board with: really knowing one subject and going all out on it," says Ben Darrington, a Ron Paul supporter at Yale.
Not bad but I think they missed the point that part of Paul's appeal comes from the fact that he's calling for constitutional purity during a time when the rights that it guarantees appear to be threatened. They have an interesting close though:
Paul doesn't expect that he will win the nomination, and he has no interest in running as an independent again. But he also doesn't see himself endorsing one of the other Republicans in the general election. "Those people who support me wouldn't believe it," he says. "If I said, 'Giuliani's a great guy, and he'll reduce subsidies and bring the troops home'? I couldn't do that." Even nerd revolutions don't surrender.
You'll note the usage of the word "independent" rather than the term "third party" which is the exact same thing he said in his appearance on the Tonight Show.