Ronpaulericthayergetty

You will notice the Bushies' defensiveness and smears. As the call to rescue the GOP from big government at home and militaristic belligerence abroad resonates, especially with the next generation, you will hear Paul described as "nutty" and anti-Semitic and fringe and marginal and on and on. A classic anti-Paul post can be found on Powerline, the pro-torture, more-war-please Cheney faction of the blogosphere. Money quote:

Republicans should respond to voters who find Ron Paul appealing with a cold shoulder.

They don't even want the voters and money that Paul is bringing into the GOP - because their power - and the big spending, war-mongering authoritarianism they favor - is threatened by this revival of grass roots conservatism. What I find energizing is how Paul has managed to talk many on the "left" into appreciating the benefits of smaller government and limiting executive power. What they now share with the paleocons and the crunchy cons and the conservatives of doubt is a resistance to and skepticism of the imperial impulse to control countries we do not understand and to indefinitely occupy whole regions of the world to defend ourselves against an enemy that knows no geographical boundaries. Here's Greenwald today, emblematic of the way in which Paul has brought traditional conservative ideas into constituencies once reflexively hostile:

Individuals who historically may not have been attracted to "limited-government" rhetoric and all of the specifics it traditionally entails may find that ideal necessary now after six years of endless expansions of intrusive federal government power.

Regardless of one's ideology, there is simply no denying certain attributes of Paul's campaign which are highly laudable. There have been few serious campaigns that are more substantive -- just purely focused on analyzing and solving the most vital political issues. There have been few candidates who more steadfastly avoid superficial gimmicks, cynical stunts, and manipulative tactics. There have been few candidates who espouse a more coherent, thoughtful, consistent ideology of politics, grounded in genuine convictions and crystal clear political values.

The fundamental realities of this election are two: we are in a war in Iraq that was clearly a mistake and that will be very hard to disentangle from; the American people overwhelmingly think we are on the wrong track both at home and abroad. There are only two candidates who effectively respond to this desire for change of direction abroad and repair at home. They are Barack Obama for the Democrats and Ron Paul for the Republicans. The voters most engaged with this campaign so far - as measured by fundraising and enthusiasm - are clearly favoring these two change agents. The question is simply whether a broader public will follow, or whether they will fall for the formica candidacies of Romney and Clinton or the neo-fascist option in Giuliani.

Know hope. America isn't finished yet.

(Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty.)

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