The Once and Future Ron Paul

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Ninety-two years ago, H.P. Lovecraft wrote a story called “The Terrible Old Man.” The title pretty much sums up mainstream Republicans’ attitude toward Ron Paul, the feistiest, longest-lasting challenger in Mitt Romney‘s quest for the GOP presidential nomination. Long after Romney’s other foes had surrendered, Paul was still in there fighting.

And making the GOP establishment squirm.

Paul, a congressman from Texas, drove social conservatives batty by railing against the war on drugs and deriding attempts at the federal level to outlaw gay marriage. He questioned why government even issues marriage licenses.

He angered hawks by slamming the Patriot Act, ridiculing neocons who urged war with Iran, and calling for deep cuts in military spending and the closing of overseas military bases.

The GOP base found him terrible, all right. And terrifying.

While Romney drew polite crowds, Paul drew cheering throngs filled with young people who discovered the 76-year-old had something new to say. Party faithful worried what would happen if he made a third-party run.

Conservative icon George Will was so worried he wrote a column last December warning that if Paul broke from the pack, he could tilt the election to Barack Obama. Will crunched the numbers state by state. “A Paul (third-party) candidacy,” he wrote, “would make 2012 much easier for Obama than 2008 was.”

Alas, that’s a candidacy we probably won’t see. Paul announced last week he will stop campaigning in upcoming primaries and caucuses. His campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, wrote: “Our delegate total will not be strong enough to win the nomination. However, our delegates can still make a major impact at the (Republican) National Convention and beyond.”

We’ll miss the congressman’s active participation in the presidential contest. Other candidates talk about government and how they would steer it and allocate resources. Paul talked about freedom.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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