Weigel shrewdly observes:

Before the younger Paul became a Senate nominee, he was an emissary for a brand of Republican politics less threatening than the Dick Cheney kind -- anti-Fed, anti-war, pro-drug legalization. (Paul is not personally pro-drug legalization, but many of his supporters are.) After he won the nomination, it was open season on his more extreme politics.

We saw this happen in 2008 with Ron Paul. In December 2007, the New Republic ran a piece on Paul by Tucker Carlson, the most glowing of several fun pieces it ran about him. Weeks later, the magazine ran an exposé by Jamie Kirchick of racist passages in newsletters that went out under Paul's name. "If you are a critic of the Bush administration," Kirchick wrote at the top of his article, "chances are that, at some point over the past six months, Ron Paul has said something that appealed to you." Hint, hint -- it was fun to indulge the libertarians for a while, but the time had come for good liberals to take them seriously.

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