The words "authentic" and "honest" pop up repeatedly when his supporters talk about Mr. Paul, and many say that's why they're willing to overlook their disagreements — and for a candidate who embraces an end to the drug war, the Internal Revenue Service and abortion, just about everyone finds something to disagree with.
"He's kind of no style and all substance. He wouldn't be in the game if he didn't really believe in what he's saying," Jacob Lyles, a 24-year-old investment banker from Arlington said in a telephone interview. He said Mr. Paul's authenticity cuts through a lot of the political clutter to grab supporters. "I think that's kind of the exact opposite of what his Republican opponents are saying."
And the LA Times ran this commentary: Ron Paul isn't that scary.
As the hopeless but energetic presidential campaign of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) builds momentum in name recognition, fundraising and cross-ideology appeal, media conservatives are beginning to attack Paul in earnest. Republican consultant David Hill condemns the candidate's "increasingly leftish" positions. Syndicated columnist Mona Charen calls Paul "too cozy with kooks and conspiracy theorists." Film critic and talk radio host Michael Medved looks over Paul's supporters and finds "an imposing collection of neo-Nazis, white Supremacists, Holocaust deniers, 9/11 'truthers' and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists."
For the most part, these allegations strike me as overblown and unfair. But, for argument's sake, let's say they're not. Let's even say that Paul has the passionate support of the Legion of Doom, that his campaign lunchroom looks like the "Star Wars" cantina, and that many of his top advisors actually have hooves.
Well, I would still find him less scary than Mike Huckabee.
While many are marveling at Paul's striking success at breaking out of the tinfoil-hat ghetto, Huckabee's story is even more remarkable. The former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister is polling in second place in Iowa and could conceivably win there. He's still a long shot to take the nomination and a pipe dream to take the presidency, but Huckabee matters in a way that Paul still doesn't. One small indicator of Huckabee's relevance: His opponents in the presidential race are attacking him while the field is ignoring Paul like an eccentric who sits too close to you on the bus.
So what's so scary about Huckabee? Personally, nothing. By all accounts, he's a charming, decent, friendly, pious man.
What's troubling about The Man From Hope 2.0 is what he represents. Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids. A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution, Huckabee is a populist on economics, a fad-follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do "good works" extends to using government -- and your tax dollars -- to bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
For example, Huckabee has indicated he would support a nationwide federal ban on public smoking. Why? Because he's on a health kick, thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing.
And therein lies the chief difference between Paul and Huckabee. One is a culturally conservative libertarian. The other is a right-wing progressive.
Whatever the faults of the man and his friends may or may not be, Paul's dogma generally renders them irrelevant. He is a true ideologue in that his personal preferences are secondary to his philosophical principles. When asked what his position is, he generally responds that his position can be deduced from the text of the Constitution. Of course, that's not as dispositive as he thinks it is. But you get the point.
As for Huckabee -- as with most politicians, alas -- his personal preferences matter enormously because ultimately they're the only thing that can be relied on to constrain him.
This is an important point -- do we want a President who will be driven by his own personal opinions and preferences? or a President who will be driven by our Constitution?
And, in case you are wondering about where Ron Paul stands on matters of religion and faith, here are his words:
You can read Ron Paul's full Statement of Faith, if you like. Do keep in mind, though, that regardless of where he stands on particular issues (abortion, gay rights, etc.) he is not going to be advocating federal rulings on such, deferring these decisions to the States.
We live in times of great uncertainty when men of faith must stand up for our values and our traditions lest they be washed away in a sea of fear and relativism. As you likely know, I am running for President of the United States, and I am asking for your support.
I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.