It is considered dangerous in the mainstream media ever to reference Congressman Ron Paul of Texas as anything but a political anomaly. Well, here I go about Paul, just as I did in my new book, "Paranoid Nation," in which I discussed the impact he had on the 2008 GOP presidential contest. (And no, I'm not calling Rep. Paul paranoid).
In November 2007, I was in the pressroom after the CNN/YouTube Republican debate in St. Petersburg, Fla. That was the night Mike Huckabee stole the show with his comment that Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office. One has to take into account the fact that the debate was taking place in a metropolitan area that had already seen housing prices plummet and home sales dry up. Yet not one candidate raised the issue of housing or the impending financial crisis.
Actually, there was one candidate that night who focused on where the nation was really headed. Attacked and derided by the more "acceptable" GOP candidates, it was Ron Paul who warned that America was "going bankrupt" and that our infrastructure was decaying. He also harped the loudest on the need to cut spending.
Throughout the 2008 campaign, Paul kept telling anyone who would listen that the nation was literally printing money to pile up massive debts, and that there would be a major price to pay for Congress and the president being asleep at the wheel.
Now look where we are. We are spending money faster than we can print it, our nation really is going bankrupt, and Congress is being forced to deal with real issues such as infrastructure even as it pours massive amounts of pork into a stimulus bill that in reality has turned into the largest appropriations bill ever passed. It's a bill that was cobbled together in haste by a Congress that didn't even realize we were in trouble as late as November 2007.
Not all of Ron Paul's ideas were on point. But his general theme proved to be right on. And the Republicans ran the exact sort of milquetoast general election campaign that I expected. No theme and no passion.
Now Paul is taking another position that puts him at odds with his party's traditional stand on a controversial issue -- Cuba. Paul has co-authored legislation with several Democrats to allow travel by American citizens to and from Cuba.
That will anger many in the Cuban-American community who believe that punishing the Castro brothers is still critical. Maybe. But let's look at the other side of this argument.
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