"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Regular Reader Responds on.... Ron Paul's "Weirdness"

One of my most loyal friends and readers -- OK, undoubtedly the most loyal Regular Guy reader who doesn't have the same last name as I do -- wrote in a comment about my offhand statement that Ron Paul isn't a serious GOP Presidential candidate because "weirdness is a disqualifier," asking how exactly is Ron Paul weird?   That's fair comment.   Many of us fall back on standard-issue attitudes as a substitute for reasons for our opinions.   My statement would have been accurate if I had said something like -- "I don't think Ron Paul is a viable candidate, even though I haven't studied his positions on any issues, because the general and probably also unstudied attitude toward him is that he's weird, and it's my sense that Republicans won't nominate someone once he's been labeled (however unfairly) as weird."   That would have shed my unearned mantle of pretending to know what I was talking about, and also would have been a more Christian attitude toward Paul himself.   After all, if you forget about the fact that he's running for President, why would I ever want to call anyone whom I don't know "weird"?   Not very nice, as my wife would be quick to tell me.

So, let's give Ron Paul an actual look.   First, let's think about character:  it's hard to quibble with Paul's character.  (Unlike, say, Gingrich (two divorces), or Cain (enough said, he's done)).   Paul, before his political career, was a doctor, a graduate of Duke University Medical School, a flight surgeon in the Air Force and Air National Guard, and an obstetrician and gynecologist who delivered 4,000 babies.  As a physician, Paul routinely lowered fees or worked for free and refused to accept Medicaid or Medicare payments.   He's been married to his wife Carol for 54 years, and has five children.   So far so good.    He passes the character test with flying colors.   (So do Romney, Santorum, Perry and Bachmann, at least as far as I can tell; I don't know enough about Huntsman or Johnson.)

Now, let's look at his positions and see if I can tell what if anything I would disagree with.   (I think that was my friend's real point... that I would probably like what I see if I actually bothered to look.)   Looking at the Ron Paul 2012 web-site, the first in the list of issues is abortion, and Paul says what I would want any GOP Presidential candidate to say:

As a physician, Ron Paul consistently put his beliefs into practice and saved lives by helping women seek options other than abortion, including adoption.  And as President, Ron Paul will continue to fight for the same pro-life solutions he has upheld in Congress, including:
* Immediately saving lives by effectively repealing Roe v. Wade and preventing activist judges from interfering with state decisions on life by removing abortion from federal court jurisdiction through legislation modeled after his “We the People Act.”
* Defining life as beginning at conception by passing a “Sanctity of Life Act.”
Couldn't be any better if I wrote it myself.    Check.   The next issue is health care.   Here's what Paul has to say:

The answer to our nation’s health care crisis lies in freedom – not force.
As President, Ron Paul will fight to put you back in control of your health care decisions, save you money on medical expenses, and institute reforms that will once again make America’s health care system the standard for other nations to follow.
He will work with Congress to:
* Repeal ObamaCare and end its unconstitutional mandate that all Americans must carry only government-approved health insurance or answer to the IRS.
Stop.   That's good enough for me.   Paul has some other interesting ideas on health care too, like giving tax credits to patients who purchase "negative outcomes" insurance as a way of limiting the cost of medical malpractice litigation; and prohibiting the federal government from creating a national database of personal health information.   But repealing Obamacare is the sine qua non for a GOP candidate, and he's on board.  

Jumping to national defense, here's what Paul's website has to say:

As Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Paul will lead the fight to:
* Make securing our borders the top national security priority.
* Avoid long and expensive land wars that bankrupt our country by using constitutional means to capture or kill terrorist leaders who helped attack the U.S. and continue to plot further attacks.
* End the nation-building that is draining troop morale, increasing our debt, and sacrificing lives with no end in sight.
* Follow the Constitution by asking Congress to declare war before one is waged.
* Only send our military into conflict with a clear mission and all the tools they need to complete the job – and then bring them home.
* Stop taking money from the middle class and the poor to give to rich dictators through foreign aid.
Some of this sounds reasonable, but it also sounds a bit isolationist.   One of the problems with campaign website I've noted is that they often speak in generalities.   You have to go elsewhere to put meat on the bones.   Would Paul retreat from Iraq, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory like Obama?  If so, I'd have to disagree; we need bases and the ability to project force in Iraq to provide a counterweight to Iran.   From Afghanistan?  I could perhaps agree here; Afghanistan is a different animal, and I don't see a civil society growing there; I also think that our being there unnecessarily exacerbates tensions with Pakistan.  Would he continue to aid Israel, our best and only ally in the Middle East?   Doesn't sound like it.   Would he support an Israeli air strike against Iran to keep it from going nuclear?   No.   So I might have problems with the Ron Paul foreign policy.   But I don't think isolationism -- which has a long history in the Republican Party -- qualifies him as weird.   It's a serious position that I might disagree with, but it's not weird.  

I'll look at the Ron Paul economic program in a separate post.   But for now I'd say he's a Republican who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, repeal Obamacare, and make controlling our borders the top national security priority.   That's not bad, and it's certainly not "weird."  

I would have some knee-jerk issue with his age -- he's 76 and would be 77 when he takes office.  He'd need a young VP candidate.   Paul-Rubio, anyone?


  1. he has made some pretty off-the-wall comments which is why I think he's weird. He also stated that overturning abortion should be left up to the states (I believe). He recently said in an interview, that the way to deal with Iran is to offer them friendship and later stated that it was understandable that they might want a nuclear weapon, after all, many of the neighbors have them. He has stated that we were attacked on 9/11 because of our interventionist policies...in other words, it was our fault that crazy people wanted to kill 3,000 americans. I think I heard Reverend Wright saying pretty much the same thing during the last election. I could go on but I won't. I can only say that while I do agree with some of his positions, I disagree more than I agree...and I think he's weird.

    1. Anon, where in the Constitution do you find any authorization for the national government to make laws about murder? That has always been left to the states. Why would abortion require a different approach?

      Those nations with nuclear weapons, for example North Korea, are not invaded. Instead, we make deals with them, supplying them with foodstuffs and other things they want. Why, therefore, would it be weird to note this obvious fact and the implications of our policies?

      If you think Paul's views about blowback are weird, then you also think the CIA's views are weird. That agency says the same thing as Ron does. Why, then, would you support continued and increased funding of that "weird" organization?

      If China came here with troops and drones and insisted upon telling us how we must run our affairs, how amenable would you be to accepting such commands? You may not be one who would take up arms against them, but there are many who would. Why, then, you you imagine Iraqis, Afghans, and others would react differently?

      What's weird is your slipshod analysis.