New Hampshire did not produce a breakthrough for Republican presidential aspirant Ron Paul. The libertarian congressman from Texas got only 8 percent of the vote in the Granite State, despite its "live free or die" tradition. This was slightly worse than his showing in the Iowa caucuses. Still, the enthusiasm of Paul's supporters - one of the more remarkable phenomena of the campaign - seemed undiminished. There they were Tuesday night, cheering as he promised to continue his long-shot bid and his demand for immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Having raised $28 million, mostly on the Internet, Paul can afford to soldier on - possibly on a third-party ticket in November.
Paul's campaign illustrates the political power of new technology, and some are inclined to stand back and admire it. Jay Leno, for example, hosted Paul on his show, using the time to commiserate about his exclusion from a recent Republican debate on the Fox News network. But when journalists take Paul seriously enough to actually probe his ideas, what they find is pretty strange. On Dec. 23, Tim Russert of "Meet the Press" elicited Paul's view that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an affront to private property rights, and that Abraham Lincoln started the Civil War to "get rid of the original intent of the republic." The New Republic recently reviewed back issues of newsletters published under Paul's name during the 1980s and '90s; it discovered crude attacks on gays, blacks and Jews, including the observation that the 1992 Los Angeles riot ended because "it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks." Paul has said that the newsletters do not represent his beliefs, because they were ghost-written products he "did not edit."
During the Cold War, the late Jeane Kirkpatrick chided Democrats for "blaming America first" in foreign policy. That may or may not have been apt. But in 2008, there is one candidate to whom her words definitely apply: Republican Ron Paul.
- Washington Post
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