Bill Steigerwald

Good for Andrew Sullivan.

The conservative super-blogger who writes the Daily Dish ( has not joined the right-wing pundits who want to kick libertarian Rep. Ron Paul out of the GOP presidential debates -- or out of the Republican Party altogether.

In fact, Sullivan is openly praising the nine-term Texas congressman, medical doctor and Pittsburgh native and urging him to stay in the race.

Sullivan contends, rightly, that Paul has been the best thing about the GOP’s otherwise ideologically predictable TV debates so far -- mainly because Paul is the only one on stage who truly believes in individual liberty and actually believes everything he says.

It was Paul’s exchange with Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday in South Carolina over the causes of 9/11 that enraged conservative pundits. Paul, who voted against the war in Iraq and wants troops brought home ASAP, merely said what any CIA agent or regular Time magazine reader knows to be 96 percent true: The attacks of 9/11 were “blowback” from 50 years of America’s vile interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East.

Throwing a fit, Giuliani called Paul’s notion an “absurd explanation” and demanded that Paul withdraw the statement that America had “invited” 9/11. (For the record, and not that anyone noticed or cared at Fox News, Paul never used the word “invited.” Fox News questioner Wendell Goler did.)

Giuliani's explanation for 9/11 was the familiar Father Bush fairy tale: Fundamentalist Islamist terrorists attacked us because they hate our freedoms, our wealth, our immoral culture and our failure to publicly stone Paris Hilton to death.

In part because of his tough, albeit childish, response, Giuliani was declared Tuesday night’s big winner by many in the mainstream and conservative media. Paul was subsequently called a crackpot, a member of the left-wing “I hate America” crowd and a relic of 1930s isolationism.

Paul doesn't pretend to be a modern Republican but an old-fashioned libertarian one who puts the Constitution and freedom before politics and party. He and everyone else on Earth know he’s not going to be running against Hillary next fall. And because of the trouble he's causing his philosophically lost and troubled party, he'll be lucky if he's allowed to appear in future debates.

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..