Newsflash: Ron Paul Loves Liberty
When Dr. Paul delivered a one-hour speech Wednesday night in a small auditorium at this editor’s alma mater – Loyola University in Maryland – we knew what to expect. His message is a familiar one, and perhaps one of Dr. Paul’s more endearing qualities is that his message rarely changes. If you’ve ever seen him on TV or heard him speak, you might as well have been there with us. There was no big news, or announcements, or changes in policies. The man wants liberty, and that’s that.
But that’s not to say we found nothing of note. Au contraire… Ron Paul himself is just as interesting as his message.
Ron Paul is funny – “I really didn’t expect anyone to show up,” were the first words of his speech. Wednesday night also happened to be President Obama’s first State of the Union address, an address that every member of Paul’s 300-or-so audience was surely going to miss. He said that with a smile, but a hint of honesty too (Dr. Paul was not packing college auditoriums in 2005). “There is this other speech happening tonight, but I don’t think you’ll be missing a lot… We scheduled ours before the other guy,” he quipped.
Later, as his very grave call for the return of personal liberty reached its crescendo, he offered the ultimate attribute of a truly free society: “You can even drink unpasteurized milk!”
Ron Paul is old – He’s obviously no spring chicken, but Dr. Paul has been around even longer than you might think. This weekend he’ll be celebrating his 53rd wedding anniversary. He has great grand kids – three of ’em. When he speaks off the cuff – which was the majority of his presentation – he rambles, lacking that slick verbosity that characterizes his profession. His hands shake just a tiny bit. When your editor spoke with him (quite briefly) after his speech, he turned his ear and leaned in.
Ron Paul is young – “I’m really pleased with the reception at colleges,” he noted quite frankly. Of course, more than one college student in the crowd was not there by choice (to the guy with the headphones on…c’mon). But the “Ron Paul brand” is surprisingly youthful. Your editor was flanked on all sides by the “Young Americans for Liberty,” an outspoken club of undergrads in awkward suits, grinning ear to ear at the sight of their idol, Dr. Ron Paul. There was a loyal legion of the “tea party” 50+, but almost half the crowd was under 25. We even saw one high school-aged girl shed a tear and shudder after shaking his hand…not exactly Beetle-mania, but surprising for a 74 year old obstetrician turned Republican Congressman.
That’s no surprise to him: “We’re trying to promote something very young,” he responded to those who say he’ll send us back to the dark ages. “Liberty has not been around very long. These are not ancient ideas.” He reminded the audience that tyranny, monarchy and oligarchy are old ideas, and he’s not surprised that a college crowd – having just escaped the monarchy of Mom and Dad – thirsts for libertarianism.
Ron Paul’s a Southerner – He’s spent enough time in Washington to develop a relatively neutral diction, but our Yankee ears have never heard the phrase, “What in thunder?!?” Every once in a while, when he lets his guard down, a “yall” slips out.
Ron Paul’s a politician – Most, but not all of Dr. Paul’s “aw shucks” persona is legit. No doubt, much of his popularity stems from a constant appeal to fairness and often blatant honesty (for crying out loud, his middle name is Ernest). He oozes these attributes in person… but he can play politics, too.
“You’re married, so what?” is Dr. Paul’s unofficial policy on gay marriage. Halfway into his speech – which was billed as “The Case Against the Fed” – he wandered into this controversial hole. He dug his way out with careful words. Though he was clearly unopposed to gay marriage, he never overtly supported it – surely aware of the very conservative audience he was addressing. Even though he spoke about it for a good five minutes, we don’t recall Paul even saying the word “gay.”
In his 35 years in and out of politics (what would the founding fathers think of that?) he’s picked up some tools of the trade. He didn’t show the slightest bit of hesitation towards any of his policy proposals… the kind of “I have a monopoly on all the right ideas” attitude that plagues his Democrat and Republican brethren just the same. Though the topic of his speech was curing us of the Fed’s disease, he spent not one second addressing any potentially harsh side effects of such monetary medication. Even BigPharma gives the fine print (only because the FDA insists).
He did spend time hitting the libertarian easy targets… AIG…the second amendment…federal deficits…government regulators, etc. And when Dr. Paul hit ’em hard, there was always a pointed finger, a rising intonation and a well-timed pause for applause. Consider the rabble thoroughly roused.
Can we blame him? Only a little. Who would have ever thought that Dr. Paul – a quirky libertarian from Texas – could garner such eminence? It’s obvious now, but 5, 10 years ago…no way. The time has clearly come for his message to reach so many, and we welcome it in our strange state of political discourse – especially in places like a university. Paul’s not perfect, but neither is unpasteurized milk. We’ll take our chances with both, if only in small doses.
for The Daily Reckoning
P.S. So what did Dr. Paul and I talk about after his speech? This is a little embarrassing…
He didn’t take any questions after his presentation, but Paul did sign a few copies of End the Fed. With my fancy press pass and press seating, I was able to get one of the first cracks at him, before the “commoners.” As such, your editor foolishly expected he might gain Dr. Paul’s audience for a few seconds – maybe even a question or two – instead of the customary handshake and autograph. Given my publisher’s history with Dr. Paul, I thought I had a good shot. Heh, wrong:
“Nice to meet you doctor. I’m Ian Mathias. I write for The Daily Reckoning.”
(Brief pause. He shows no sign of recognition or regard. Better cut to the chase.)
“We have a library dedicated in our office to Kurt Richebächer, who is…”
“OK… Who is this to?” he interrupts, having already written “To”.
“Oh, sorry… Ummm, if you could please make it for the Richebächer Memorial Library.”
“Can you make it just one name?”
“Yeah, sorry… Kurt.”
“With a K?”
I took our copy, noted the terse “To Kurt, Ron Paul” inscription, and nodded in passive appreciation. Paul turned to his handler, “Tell them no more dedications.”
P.P.S. We owe some gratitude to Loyola’s Courtney Jolley for getting us a press pass at the last minute and for the best seat in the house. Also thanks to Thomas DiLorenzo for arranging the event.