The Washington Post

Ron Paul, New Hampshire, feelin’ solstitial

Astronomically the solstice is at 12:30 Thursday morning, Washington time, but this morning when I watched the sun attempt to rise I could tell it was already feeling solstitial. Maybe the solstice came early. Am going to phone this in to the Naval Observatory.

It looks like I’ll be going to New Hampshire in a couple of weeks to do the usual thing (chase candidates, interview ordinary citizens, freeze, go to Dunkin’ Donuts, get hopelessly lost on remote country roads that all seem to be named Route 3A).

There is talk that Ron Paul is surging and might win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Andrew Sullivan loves him. The Republican establishment would not be happy [see this smart piece for more], in part because Paul is weak in the electability department. But the establishment mandarins will also reject him because, in their eyes, he’s not really a Republican.

Sure, he’s won 12 times as the Republican nominee in his Texas district. He’s clearly a registered Republican. But philosophically he’s a libertarian (small letter “l”). He once ran for president against the Republican nominee as the Libertarian Pary nominee. His anti-government rhetoric overlaps with that of many in the GOP, particularly in the Tea Party, but his foreign policy overlaps with that of Dennis Kucinich and Noam Chomsky.

Even Republicans who might wince at the influence of neo-cons and the endless foreign wars would likely reject Paul’s belief that we should bring home troops from 130 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Germany, etc. He’s been consistent on this since the days of the Cold War. It’s not a quirky plank in his platform — not some rounding error — but a core belief: We shouldn’t intervene around the world. Wilson made a terrible mistake in WWI when he entered the war in Europe (so he told me when I interviewed him for my recent profile). Ask Paul about key moments in history and you get a revisionist account. Lincoln shouldn’t have prosecuted the Civil War (hey, we seceded from Britain, didn’t we?).

The libertarian philosophy is a huge departure for a party that, in my lifetime, prided itself on hardline anti-Communism in contrast to the pinko Democrats.

My guess is that if Paul falters, it won’t be because Republican power-brokers stopped him. It’ll be because ordinary Republicans listened to him and decided that he’s not one of them.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."

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