Ron Paul taped his second Tonight Show with Jay Leno appearance this afternoon in Burbank, California. Herewith, a preview report from memory. It will be airing tonight, wherever the Tonight Show can be found, and will doubtless be on YouTube forthwith.
Leno asked the crowd beforehand to please not loudly applaud Paul after every line–both because it made it look like they packed the audience with partisans (it was self-packed with Paul partisans) and because it disrupted the flow of his conversation.
The reason for having Paul on again today, Leno told him, was because the Fox News people excluded him from the debate, and Leno thought that wasn't fair. He commended Paul for being so polite about something that would have, Leno said, really pissed him off, saying Paul was "screwed" as an obviously viable candidate excluded for no reason.
Paul said he was able to get no explanation from Fox for it, speculated they are a bit afraid of his ideas since they are so in bed with the GOP establishment which Paul is a standing reproach to since he still stands for the Constitution and they don't (he got annoyingly vague in this part in explaining precisely where and why he was true-blue and the rest of the Republican field is not). Paul joked (I think it was a joke) about suing Fox over their violation of their "fair and balanced" slogan but acknowledged their property right to exclude him if they wished.
The rest of it was a quick, sympathetic tour through Paulism. Paul brought up monetary policy, acknowledged he's seen as unbearably eccentric for believing sound money should be gold based but noted the Founding Fathers believed the same thing. The truly kooky thing, Paul said, was giving politicians the power to essentially make more money when they needed it. The recent decline in the dollar's value relative to other currencies is beginning to show people that we need to grapple with monetary policy. He declined to say he'd name any current GOP contender as his running mate until they proved to him they'd sincerely changed their views to match his. He noted he sent Rudy a package of books on the causes of terrorism and that Rudy has apparently not read them.
Leno asked if he blamed the U.S. for 9/11, and Paul noted that the blame lay with the "thugs" who did the deed, but that we needed to understand the role of U.S. foreign policy in motivating them–in the same manner that investigating motive was important in solving a murder. He ended his antiwar spiel noting that we can't afford more interventions (saying he fears that Pakistan and Iran might be next) and gave a slight pander in saying that we should spend the trillion we are spending on war on (I paraphrase) the needs of people here–not, in a more hardcore libertarian fashion, on allowing the money to stay in the hands of its earners.
Asked if any Dems appealed to him, he spoke of his congruence on foreign policy and civil liberties with his pal Dennis Kucinich, but did note they disagreed on economic policy.
It was a decent performance overall but I think he failed to sharply explain the full range of his differences from his opponents. You would know of him from this appearance only that he was against the war, against inflation and paper money, and for the Constitution. Maybe that's enough.
I failed, alas, to nab Paul in the scrum outside as he was getting in his car (surrounded by mostly young fans vying for photo ops) to fly back to New Hampshire. I was unable, then, to get any personal reactions to the Kirchick New Republic piece criticizing him (apparently–it's not publicly available yet, so I haven't read it) for anti-MLK and anti-gay slurs from years back. For more on which, see Matt Welch's post below (with loads of other reason Ron Paul links.)
As the squad of Writer's Guild picketers outside NBC's studio reminded me (with some signs playing on pro-Jay feeling by announcing that "Jay wants his writer's back" and others baldly calling Leno a scumbag for going back on the air without them), I'll now never be able to say that I never crossed a picket line. I don't recall if I lived in that state of grace before today.
YouTube of Paul's first Leno appearance back in October.