On balance, I view Ron Paul as a good thing.
I view myself as a libertarian and, in many ways, my criticisms of Ron Paul are that he is a more consistent libertarian than me. I want to see government provide health and welfare services, and run natural monopolies.
But much more importantly, Ron Paul is infinitely more consistent than the vast majority of those who label themselves “libertarian” in the UK and US, but are in fact just extreme right wingers with no concern at all for civil liberties, and who support the idea of a massive military force controlled by the government to annex foreign resources. Their “libertarianism” amounts to no more than a desire to be allowed to make money unscrupulously, without interference or tax. Paul Staines is the prime example of a false libertarian.
Ron Paul is not a false libertarian. His 21% showing in Iowa is going, for a while at least, to make it impossible to maintain the usual near total exclusion of anti-war and pro-civil liberties voices from the mainstream media. That is a great achievement. Having been given vastly less mainstream air time than Bachmann or Perry, that will now change for Paul – and even as they strive to limit that change, the establishment will hate that.
So, on balance a very good thing indeed. There are whispers about past racial attitudes. I have met Ron Paul, and am obliged to say I did not like him very much. But for a spell Americans are going to be able to hear someone question the trillions spent on foreign wars while US families suffer – and even a raising of the billions given to Israel. That outweighs a great deal of baggage.