Opinion and Editorial

An Admired American Politician

Eric S. Margolis
Filed on July 6, 2009

Republican Congressman Ron Paul became a hero to many Americans last year when he ran for president against the political establishment. The 11-term Texas congressman is the most respected and admired American politician around the world after Barack Obama. Rep. Paul is a vocal critic of America’s foreign wars; he sits on the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. Dr Paul invited me to Washington to address his weekly luncheon in his office on Capital Hill on the intensifying wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A group of independent-minded Republican congressmen attended.

During last year’s presidential race, I called Paul, ‘the only candidate who is telling Americans the truth about foreign affairs.’I came to respect and admirePaul’s courage, honesty, and refusal to accept special interest money.

Speaking of today’s US Congress, Dr Paul observes: ‘Special interests have replaced the concern the Founders had for the general welfare.’

In fact, Rep. Paul has been a model of the legislators envisaged by America’s founding fathers: men of high moral standards and intellect dedicated to the nation’s wellbeing. He reminds me in many ways of the fiercely upright senators of the early Roman Republic.The Roman Senate served as the model for the United States Senate.

Paul, a physician, used to deliver babies on Mondays and Saturdays while serving in office.

The 74-year old doctor from Texas electrified young Americans with his grassroots campaign, providing voters a real alternative to the Republicans and Democratic establishment, which often appears to be one party with two factions.Paul’s clear, cool voice challenged all the government and media propaganda about Afghanistan and Iraq. Dr. Paul is also waging adetermined battle against the runaway spending and soaring national debt being promoted by the Obama White House and Congressional Democrats.

Paul and his fellow libertarian Republicans advocate individual rights, strict adherence to the US Constitution,limited government, and free enterprise. They oppose American global domination, ‘nation-building,’ and all foreign wars not waged in the direct defense of American territory.

Paul opposes US involvement in other nation’s internal affairs.As anti-Iranian hysteria gripped the nation last month, Paul was the only House member who voted against a bill condemning Iran for its recent election.That’s real courage.Only Congress, he insists, has the right to declare war, not the president.Congress cravenly abandoned this right during thebuildup to the Iraq War that was fuelled by the Bush administration’s shameless lies andwar-mongering by the US media.

Dr Paul’s amiable manner and lack of the bloated self -importance that so typifies Washington bigwigs conceals a very keen intellect and depth of knowledge.He also has one of the capital’s sharpest foreign affairs staff chiefs, Daniel McAdams.It is a relief to find key decision-makers in Washington who actually understand the outside world. As I talked with Dr Paul, it occurred to me that he and his fellow libertarians arethe potent remedy that the dreadfully sick Republican Party so desperately needs. Paul’s Liberty Caucus will hopefully form the core around which a vigorous, new party grows that address America’s real needs.

President George Bush and the neo-cons almost destroyed the Republican Party, as this columnist predicted before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.What’s left of the Republicans has become a rump dominated by Christian religious fundamentalists, Southerners, and war-loving neoconservatives.No longer a place for a moderate, New York Republican like myself.

Dr. Paul and his fellow libertarians offer Republicans and Americans a real alternative to the dumbed-down Republicans and to the wildly spending Democrats whose expanded Afghanistan war and reckless economic policies are leading the nation into growing danger.

Eric S Margolis is a veteran US journalist who has reported from the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan for several years

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