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 President Paul? 

January 25, 2007 
Ron PaulDozens of people have announced their candidacies for the White House in 2008, and if I had to bet at this point, I would put my money on the old woman. Hillary may be awful, but at least she is predictable. Today's column is "President Paul?" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.I suppose I can learn to resign myself to her.

Ron PaulWhat difference does it really make? Our next president will have his or her hands full cleaning up after George W. Bush. In a negative sense, he has already set the agenda for his unfortunate successor. Just getting this country back to normal would be a labor of Hercules. And Hercules isn’t in the race.

Ron PaulPolitics doesn’t often produce good news, but I am slightly heartened to learn that Congressman Ron Paul is contemplating a run for the presidency. The Texas Republican has now taken the standard preliminary step of forming an exploratory committee.

Ron PaulPaul, a pro-life medical doctor, is a genuine political maverick. When the House votes for something 434 to 1, you can safely bet that Paul is the 1. He really fights for the principles other Republicans only pretend to stand for, and does so with carefully reasoned explanations of his positions.

Ron PaulIn essence, Paul appeals to that subversive document, the U.S. Constitution, long since abandoned by both major parties, not to mention the U.S. Supreme Court. He tests every proposed law by asking whether it exercises a power authorized by the Constitution. The answer is seldom yes.

Ron PaulMany years ago Paul told me, with his affably ironic smile, that he felt more pressure from his fellow Republicans than from Democrats, because the Democrats weren’t embarrassed when a Republican voted like a real conservative, but the Republicans were. Showing up his own party has been the story of Ron Paul’s career. No other Republican has voted against President Bush as consistently as he has.

Ron PaulPaul isn’t flamboyant or defiant about it; his style is quiet and reasonable, not combative. Being a maverick isn’t a pose for him. It’s a matter of conscience and logic.

Ron PaulAs a result, the GOP doesn’t care much for him and, if he runs, will try to stifle him. The allegedly right-wing Newt Gingrich, when he was riding high, once supported Paul’s opponent in the primary race; Gingrich knew what he was doing. A genuine conservative’s worst enemy is a fake one. And vice versa.

[Breaker quote for President Paul?: Let me dream.]Ron PaulPaul ran for president once before, in 1988, when he bolted the GOP to run on the Libertarian Party ticket. Much as I admired him, I voted for George H.W. Bush, afraid of ”wasting” my vote on Paul, who had no real chance of winning. Silly me. I soon realized I had really wasted my vote on Bush. It made no difference to Bush, after all, since he was going to win no matter what I did; but it made a difference to me. I still regret it. (And to this day, Bush has never thanked me.)

Ron PaulPaul has no chance of winning this time either, but he may make a real difference just by being himself. He is what liberals used to call a conscience-raiser. He makes people reflect. After six years of supporting George W. Bush, conservatives should be in a reflective mood. American democracy has come down to an unappetizing choice between the War Party and the Abortion Party. Paul could offer an alternative to this bitter dilemma.

Ron PaulThe Constitution must never be mistaken for Holy Writ, but at least it is based on the idea that there should be what William F. Buckley has called ”rational limits to government.” At this point, even that may well be a utopian hope.

Ron PaulBut we have subscribed to the principle that the Federal Government must confine itself to powers actually enumerated therein. And after all, our rulers are still sworn to uphold it, just as Bill Clinton is still legally bound by his wedding vows.

Ron PaulTaken literally, this would reduce the government to about 5 percent of its current size. That would be a huge improvement. If nothing else, the Constitution stands as a reminder of what normality used to be.

Ron PaulWell, I can dream, can’t I? And today I’m dreaming of President Ron Paul, with a Congress he deserves.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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