Monday, May 28, 2007

Ron Paul's relevance

Here's an interesting piece from the New Republic's Michael Crowley titled "The Surprising Relevance of Ron Paul." Crowley had already scheduled a meeting with Ron for the day after the South Carolina presidential debates, which made Ron something of a celebrity as well as a hate-figure among some Republicans:

"When Paul ambled through the door of a cheap Mexican joint on Capitol Hill last Wednesday, he hardly looked like a freshly minted celebrity. His slight frame, elfin face, and reserved persona suggest the doctor he used to be, not a politician. But Paul turned heads all the same. As he approached his table, a man seated nearby extended his hand with a broad smile and a hearty 'congratulations.' Paul explained that he had received a similar reception among his colleagues in the House. 'I've probably had ten people come up to me and compliment me -- including people I thought were war hawks," he said. 'It was a tremendous boost to the campaign.'"

Ten of 435 might not be much. But Crowley mentions that Paul won several instant polls, including one at the conservative NewsMax. Perhaps most important, however, was that "within a day of the debate, Paul's campaign had raised $100,000 -- about one-sixth of his entire haul for the first three months of 2007."

Now $100,000 in a day may not look like much compared to the millions Hillary, Rudy and Barack can raise. But if it is sustained, it should be enough to keep him in the race until close to the end, persistently raising questions about war and peace, about the consequences of an interventionist foreign policy. Based on my brief conversation with him at the Reagan Library "debate," that is the main reason he has put himself into the race. His presence just might turn a campaign that could have been about which candidate exuded the best version of empty macho posturing into one that is at least partially about ideas of policy and governance.

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