Beneath a strangely reductionist headline focusing only on his intention to not take a huge salary as president, Allen G. Breed at Huffington Post delivers a meaty Paul profile with focus on Paul's younger days and family. Some highlights:
Paul's grandfather, Casper, fled the economic wreckage of post-World War I Germany and went to work in the Pittsburgh steel mills at age 14. Ron Paul grew up on stories about rampant inflation and the dangers of paper currency.
"I remember my grandmother wanting to hang onto some property my dad thought she should sell," he says. "And she said, `No. The money might go bad.'"
Casper eventually saved up enough to buy some land outside the city. He started a small vegetable and chicken farm, then opened a dairy, which his sons eventually took over and relocated to nearby Carnegie. Ron Paul's first job was making sure no dirty bottles made it to the filling crates. He was paid a penny per bottle; when they were old enough, the Paul boys – all five of whom shared one bedroom – took over the summer milk routes to give the drivers some time off.
His brother Jerry says Ronnie was no goodie two-shoes. In fact, he was kicked out of school – twice. The first time was for allegedly bribing a grade school chum "two bits" to throw a baseball through a window. The second was for bringing firecrackers to Dormont High – and that time he ratted on himself.
"He couldn't stand the principals who were dictatorial," Jerry says. "He would call them fascists."
Paul also served in the armed forces, unlike most of his opponents who want to use them profligately:
Paul went on to attend Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. During his second year of residency in Detroit, Paul got a letter from the Selective Service. He could be drafted into the Army as a "buck private," or join as a physician and receive an officer's commission.
"I volunteered immediately," he says, chuckling.
Paul served two years in the Air Force as a flight surgeon and three more in the Air National Guard. While he did not see any action, he says he's seen enough of war's aftermath to convince him "the way we go to war so often is the reason that we have difficulty getting out of war.
"My firm belief is that the founders were absolutely correct in going to war very, very cautiously, very, very rarely," he told [a] Greenville [North Carolina] crowd. "And NOT by one individual deciding."
A nice bit that sums up something very real about Paul's appeal–and, via the voice of one of Paul's own brothers, the reasons he lacks appeal to some:
By speech's end, Todd Bennett, 45, of nearby Farmville, is sweating and hoarse.
"He's not the most charismatic man, by any stretch," says Bennett, a hospital supply courier and father of 10-year-old twin boys. "He's not got the greatest delivery by any stretch. But the words he says lights a fire in my soul. I'm ready to run through a brick wall for him."
Paul inspires that kind of devotion. But there are many naysayers, even among those who know him best. Jerry Paul, a retired Presbyterian minister and registered Democrat, says his brother "does not appreciate the depth" of human sinfulness and selfishness. He goes as far as to call Ron Paul's philosophy "kind of naive." Life is complicated, he suggests.
"Freedom, to me, really comes with responsibility … to work together with others in the political realm, to work on behalf of the governed," he says. "That we're going to have a safety net … Who else is going to do that, other than our political structure?"
The candidate freely acknowledges that the free market "is not perfect." But he says it adjusts for its mistakes.
"I think the people who assume that a few people in Washington, the bureaucrats and the politicians, know what's best for us, and we can trust them, that's being REALLY naive," he says.
In other Paul campaign news today:
* Paul's campaign introduced today its second web video attacking Newt Gingrich explicitly. The look is all cybersleek and cyberominous, with all the somewhat antique-future feel that implies, as we see a viewer make those computer-age gestures to sweep images and clips in and out of view, images dedicated to convincing us Newt Gingrich is selling out principles for access and lucre.
As someone (and I'm not alone in this, I know) who loved Paul (among many other reasons) for his lack of the hoary old political opponent attack gene, I can't say I'm thrilled with this ad, or its predecessor, or its focus on the notion that Gingrich making lots of money makes him a corrupt insider. (Not that he isn't a corrupt insider.) Still, this is the sort of thing that marks a campaign as "serious," and I'm sure I'm in a minority. Here it is:
* Speaking of Gingrich and Paul, even Christian Zionist Glenn Beck is so down on the Newt he would be willing to vote for a third-party Paul over Gingrich (despite his disagreements with Paul on the U.S. role in defending and supporting Israel).
* U.S. News joins the self-regarding campaign of "the media is taking Ron Paul seriously because the media is taking Ron Paul seriously" stories, but its sure better than the self-perpetuating years of not taking Ron Paul seriously. Some highlights:
Paul's vision of libertarianism is probably the clearest of all the candidates' messages, an important asset at a time when many voters are upset with politicians who compromise their principles and break their promises. His backers are probably the most passionate of anyone's in the race, and people are volunteering for him in droves. And he is getting some of his most positive news coverage since he entered the campaign.
On NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, Paul said Republican front runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney "come from the same mold" because they have both changed their minds on fundamental issues so frequently. He said all his opponents for the GOP presidential nomination "fit into the status quo."
Paul is tied for second place with Romney, behind Gingrich, in Iowa, the first state to hold a nominating contest with caucuses on January 3. according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Beyond that, he is in third place in New Hampshire, which holds the first primary on January 10. A good showing in Iowa should lift Paul there and in other early-voting states.
While it isn't out for five months and the cover hasn't been designed yet, my forthcoming book about Ron Paul and the Ron Paul Revolution is now listed on Amazon.