Thank heavens for Ron Paul. Of all the candidates running for US president in the spring of 2007, Ron Paul has clearly done more than the rest of them put together to inject serious talk about real issues. Whether you agree with his outlook on any given issue, he's got a serious and well considered viewpoint that bears consideration.
For example, I was very glad to see him in the first debate hosted by Chris Matthews on MSNBC. At one point, he asked about national ID cards. Oh yeah, good idea, fine, prudent thinking. Then the question got to Ron Paul, who had a big ol' "hell no" answer, invoking the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Suddenly all these other Republican candidates are backpedaling as hard as they can. That was a valuable service to the public debate from Congressman Paul. I'm real glad he was there thumping that pesky Constitution.
I was also tickled with the early part of his performance in the second debate with Brit Hume on Fox. Hume came asking the candidates simply to name three programs they would eliminate to cut the budget. Tommy Thompson bragged on his 1900 gubernatorial vetoes, but couldn't come up with even one little specific tiny federal program that he'd publicly commit to eliminating. That was pretty much the deal with all the other candidates - except of course for Ron Paul. He had three whole cabinet departments that he'd be happy to shut down - education, energy and homeland security. Now THAT'S answering the question. And if you'd ask him, I bet he'd come up with at least a couple more whole cabinet departments we could eliminate.
Most of all though, he's a uniquely valuable presence in the Republican debates as the only anti-war candidate in the mix. He voted against the war in 2002, and he wants to shut it down NOW. It's highly valuable to the public debate to have a candidate on that stage willing to make a principled constitutional argument against not just the details of how the Iraq war has been conducted, but against the whole thrust of our aggressive military involvement all around the world. Ron Paul demands a basic re-examination of our whole approach to foreign policy.