Is Ron Paul A Protest Candidate?

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 23 2011 @ 2:55pm

Alex Massie thinks so:

Andrew wants us to ignore the awkward parts of Paul's history and concentrate on the better, bigger picture. Which is fine. But it also means that the reason the newsletters (or the goldbuggery, if you prefer to seize on that) aren't "disqualifying" is because you know that Ron Paul won't qualify for the Republican nomination. If he were a more serious contender – in terms of votes, not principles – then the newsletters would be a bigger, quite possibly fatal, problem even for Paul's journalistic admirers. Since he isn't a real contender they may be ignored on the grounds that the other issues Paul raises are much more important.

This is fine and not a disreputable position but it reinforces the fact that, outside the wholly committed, Paul's support is in large part a well-deserved protest vote against the dreadfulness of the other Republican candidates. Again, there's nothing wrong with this. But one should admit it, not try and pretend that it's not really all that important or it's just old news. It's not old news for most of the people who didn't know much about Representative Paul until a few months ago and I reckon most people would think it pretty important if Mitt Romney had baggage like this cluttering up his past.

Jonathan Bernstein agrees. Allow me to point to Nick Gillespie's excellent piece as well. Alex, I think, gets it about right: my backing Ron Paul (again) is a form of protest against the denialism of the GOP with respect to foreign policy in the last decade – not a statement that his past newsletters and associations are irrelevant.

As I said in the endorsement, he's imperfect and I doubt he can win this thing. But I'd like to see him try.